Dallas has a wild side, and an all-volunteer group of videographers wants you to know it.
Started by local resident Nick Mirro and joined by amateur videographers with diverse backgrounds, the Dallas Nature Channel offers a web-based glimpse of the Dallas-area flora and fauna in professional-quality ultra-high-definition video.
From birds, bees and butterflies to armadillos, vetch and lichens, the videos on the website offer beautiful and interesting imagery on a wide range of topics with information and commentary presented either by the videographers or a line-up of local nature experts and biologists.
“It’s all Dallas area. We’re real particular. And it’s just native wildlife. What we do is we present two things: one, presenters … people who are particularly good at a subject and we record footage of them and let them talk or sometimes we do a voiceover with it and then the other thing, of course, is just the content itself, which is really just native wildlife,” Mirro says.
“Like on a day like today you go out and you’re not going to see a lot of wildflowers; everything looks like it’s wilting — it’s miserable. But all year long in this area, there are always interesting things that are worth recording and telling stories about.”
Mirro says that what he especially wants to bring to the Dallas Nature Channel is a revelation of the vast diversity of living creatures who are carrying on their normal routines behind our neighborhoods, above our heads and sometimes under our feet, all while we’re unaware, like a female wolf spider carrying more than 100 spider babies on her back while sitting on a leaf while people drive home after work on a nearby highway, or a trio of armadillos rooting around in the soil for grub worms in the Great Trinity Forest under the incessant glow of light pollution from Downtown Dallas.
“My god you wouldn’t believe what’s out there. I mean, for example, we could just take a walk in a woodland area around here in autumn where there’s not much going on, you could pull up some leaves, pull up a few loose rocks on a hillside and come across like a six inch long centipede that’s like, brilliant orange with brown — looks like an animated thing — huge — that exudes poison from its skin,” Mirro says. “There’s so much stuff like that because we’re in Texas and the even though the environment isn’t the healthiest, the diversity is really high here — there’s so much stuff, you wouldn’t believe it.”
To date, the group has posted more than a dozen videos and has several in the works. In one, botanist Bob O’Kennon and lichenologist Manuela Dal Forno with the Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Fort Worth show viewers how to spot different types of lichens growing on rocks and trees.
In another video, wildlife biologist Sam Kieschnick shows how ants farm vetch at 12 Hills Nature Center in Oak Cliff. In another, amateur entomologist Laura Kimberly, reveals the insect pollinators, predators and herbivores of Furneaux Creek in Carrollton. Altogether, the growing lineup of nature videos produced for the project knit together a fuller picture of the plants and animals living in our midst.
The crew that shoots and edits the videos is a handful of Dallas area residents with diverse backgrounds, all brought together by an appreciation for wildlife and video production. Mirro himself is a chiropractor who participated in the Texas A&M Agrilife Master Naturalist program in Dallas County and later embarked on the video project as an extension of his volunteer work with the group.
“My undergraduate degree is in organismal biology, and I’ve just loved things like this ever since. And I’m also a gear nut,” he says. “[We’re] people who enjoy each other’s company, and … enjoy the challenge of videography.”