Mt Pleasant Field Trips

Schools didn’t end until June 21st in our area so the Howard County Conservancy spring field trips were still happening into mid-June! As usual, I volunteered for field trips at both Mt Pleasant and Belmont. Today I’ll share some pictures I gleaned from before the school buses arrive at Mt. Pleasant….tomorrow I’ll do the same for Belmont.

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In late May – I noticed how lush everything was looking: the sweetbay magnolias, the blue flags, peonies, the new plantings around the flower pot people, and the trees along the gravel road toward Montjoy Barn.

By early June the flowers in the Honors Garden, like the columbines, were blooming.

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But the big draw of the Honors Garden – for me and for the children on field trips – were the green frogs in the pool. I would talk to the students before we came near the garden about walking very quietly…not talking…as we approached the pool so that we would see frogs. And I challenged them to find more than 4 frogs (or however many had been seen with my previous group). One group claimed to see 7…but I only saw 6. The pictures in the slide slow below were taken over several mornings before the buses arrived. Green frogs sound a little like a rubber band being strummed. It was fun to share the sights and sounds of the frogs with my hiking groups!

Roses at Brookside Gardens

May and June are the best time for roses at Brookside Gardens. It’s a feast of sights and smells…and a great place to photograph all stages of rose development and different lighting. I prefer to use my zoom rather than getting close…not tempted to step into a rose bed that way.

There are all kinds of roses – different colors, different petal density, climbers and bushes. The day I took most of these pictures, I overheard a gardener talking about the daily care that it requires to keep the garden looking so beautiful. Kudos to the staff and volunteers of Brookside!

Road Trip Scenes

Continuing our trek east from Springfield, Missouri, I got some pictures of St. Louis and the Mississippi River since my daughter was driving. The arch is easy to spot…not so easy to photograph driving east…probably would be easier on the highway driving west on the bridge with the Mississippi River in the foreground. The Mississippi was obviously high with no tree trunks showing along the water’s edge. A train was crossing the river on a bridge parallel to our route.

We stopped for the night in Springfield, Ohio. As we walked across the parking lot of the hotel to a restaurant, I spotted catalpas in bloom. The trees brought back memories of summer visits to my grandparents although I was always too late to see the trees in bloom. They already had their long seed pods by the time I visited. I read a book that described the blooms and then noticed them in a garden many years later. I was thrilled to see one in Ohio. It was growing near a water retention pond (so red-winged black birds and frogs provided ‘music’).

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In the same area – on a very manicured area between parking lots were sweetbay magnolias…and they were in bloom too. These smaller magnolias are great for places that would be overwhelmed by the larger magnolias like the southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora).

Our timing in Ohio was near perfect for seeing both catalpas and sweetbays in bloom! It was a good finale for a long day of driving.

English Botany in 12 Volumes – Sowerby Illustrations

 Now I am looking for other ‘Sowerby’ works….probably will discover some more botanical print books that I haven’t seen previously.

Anne Kingsbury Wollstonecraft and Cuba Botanicals

I found out about this author from a National Geographic Article: 'Lost' book of exquisite scientific drawings rediscovered after 190 years --- and the 3 volumes are available on Hathi Trust here. The author died young (46 years old) in 1828 and her work was not finished so it is in manuscript rather than published form. It had still been referenced a few times in the 1800s and those references are what started the search for it. Eventually, it was determined that the manuscript had been given to Cornell University in 1923 by a faculty member that was a descendant of the author. It had been in Cornell’s Rare and Manuscript Collection since! These volumes are well worth browsing. I’ve included sample images below…..but there are many more in the volumes to look at online.

eBotanical Prints - May 2019

27 new books were added to the collection this month bringing the total of botanical print books I’ve found to over 1,600 - available free of charge on the Internet. The whole list can be accessed here. The list for May 2019 is below the sample images. I’ll be posting about several of the books in more detail in subsequent blog posts.

The flora sylvatica for southern India: containing quarto plates of all the principal timber trees in southern India and Ceylon V2 * Beddome, Richard Henry; Bentham, George * sample image * 1869

Specimens of the plants and fruits of the island of Cuba V1 * Wollstonecraft, Anne Kingsbury * sample image * 1826

Specimens of the plants and fruits of the island of Cuba V2 * Wollstonecraft, Anne Kingsbury * sample image * 1826

Specimens of the plants and fruits of the island of Cuba V3 * Wollstonecraft, Anne Kingsbury * sample image * 1826

Icones florae Germanicae et Helveticae V 17 * Reichenbach, H.G. Ludwig * sample image * 1855

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V1 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1863

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V2 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1864

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V3 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1864

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V4 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1865

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V5 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1866

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V6 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1866

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V7 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1867

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V8 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1868

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V9 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1869

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V10 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1873

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V11 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1872

English Botany or Coloured figures of British plants V12 * Syme, John T. Boswell (editor); Lankester, Phebe; Sowerby, James de Carle and Salter, John Willam and Sowerby, John Edward (illustrators) * sample image * 1886

Orchidophile V1-2 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1882

Orchidophile V3 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1883

Orchidophile V4 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1884

Orchidophile V5 * Gedefroy-Lebeuf, A.  * sample image * 1884

Lindenia - iconography of orchids vol 1 * Linden, Jean Jules * sample image * 1885

Lindenia - iconography of orchids vol 17 * Linden, Jean Jules; Linden, Lucien * sample image * 1901

The genera of the Eupatorieae (Asteraceae) * King, Merril; Robinson, Harold * sample image * 1987

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V1 no 2 2007 * Botanical Research Insitute of Texas * sample image * 2007

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V2 no 1 2008 * Botanical Research Insitute of Texas * sample image * 2008

Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas V1 no 1  2007 * Botanical Research Insitute of Texas * sample image * 2007

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 14, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Antibiotics found in some of the world's rivers exceed 'safe' levels, global study finds -- ScienceDaily and Hundreds of world's rivers contain dangerous levels of antibiotics – Same story from different news feeds. Antibiotics we take are not broken down in our bodies and are excreted. Wastewater treatment does not take them out of the water so the rivers are – over time – building up more antibiotics.

Ancient Fingerprints Show Men and Women Both Made Pottery in the American Southwest | Smart News | Smithsonian – The breadth of men’s finger print ridges are 9% wider than those of women…so pots that are made via pinching layers of coiled clay together using the thumb and forefinger (leaving fingerprints) can be analyzed to determine the gender of the person that made them. It turns out at Chaco Canyon that men and women made pottery…unlike the more modern tradition of the skill passing from grandmothers to mothers to younger women.

Route 66 Considered for National Historic Trail in The Park System – On a recent road trip, the Pacific, MO hotel we stayed in (west of St. Louis) was near Route 66. They had a map to continue the journey through Missouri on stretches of the old road. We needed to reach our destination quickly so stayed on I-44…but maybe sometime when we can take our time…we’ll take Route 66 where we can.

CITY SPROUTS: The Budding Movement to Integrate Garden-Based Learning in Public School Education | Children & Nature Network – A laudable goal…but it takes work. With teachers that already have a lot to do….organizing garden-based learning might be a tough addition to their job jar.

Most of the World’s Macadamias May Have Originated from a Single Australian Tree | Smart News | Smithsonian – The majority of macadamias are grown in Hawaii…so the lack of diversity within the trees in Hawaii leaves the crop open to species-level risk. This article talks about the research and search for wild plants in Australia to increase the diversity within the macadamia gene pool.

Seven US Species Invading Other Countries – Cool Green Science – We talk a lot about non-native species invading the US. Here are some that have gone the other way.

A Sea of Sagebrush Disappears, Making Way for Fire-Prone Cheatgrass: NPR – Nearly 75% of the acres burned by wildfires in the west are range lands rather the forest. And what burns is sage and cheatgrass. The problem is that cheatgrass, an invasive grass, grows faster than sage and is taking over land where sage once dominated…and cheatgrass is more flammable. Put that together with climate change and the look of the west is changing.

Megacities Like Paris and London Can Produce Their Own Clouds | Smart News | Smithsonian – The urban heat island phenomenon has been known for a long time. Now studies are looking at cloud cover over cities and it appears they are 10% cloudier than rural areas.

Still snarling after 40,000 years, a giant Pleistocene wolf discovered in Yakutia – Found in Siberia. The discovery was announced as the opening of a Woolly Mammoth exhibition in Tokyo organized by Yakutian and Japanese scientists. The same team also presented a well-preserved cave lion cub.

Six fingers per hand – People with 6 fingers on a hand (a form of polydactyly) can perform movements with one hand where people with 5 fingers would require 2 hands. The brain of polydactyly subjects controls the additional degrees of freedom the additional finger provides without sacrificing any other brain functions.

June Yard Work – Round 1

I was out in my yard by 7:30 AM one morning this week. My husband had requested that I pull all the milkweed in the front flower beds. I agreed even though it probably means that there won’t be a Monarch (caterpillar) nursery at my house when the butterflies arrive in our area. There were day lilies and black-eyed susans growing around most of the plants so pulling them would not leave the ground bare. I took before and after pictures of three areas. Having the milkweed gone makes quite a difference!

I pulled the plants trying to get at least some of the root. There will probably be other milkweed plants that will come up since most of the plants came out with only a bit of the root right under the stem. Milkweed can grow new plants along their horizontal roots (i.e. a ‘stand’ of milkweed might all be the same plant). I also learned last year that cutting milkweed just causes it to grow branches. Hopefully I can continue to pull the tiny milkweed plants that emerge, and the front flower beds will look more traditional this summer.

After I was done pulling milkweed and grass from the flower beds – I carried the pile back to the forest. Before I went indoors, I took some pictures:

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An insect on a leaf.

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A tiny mushroom in the grass.

Flower parts and drowned insects in the bird bath. I cleaned the birdbath and refilled it before I went inside. It’s more visible now that the milkweed is gone.

Community Supported Agriculture – Hurray!

The Gorman Farms CSA summer season started last week. As usual – I am enjoying the bounty and not buying any produce at the grocery store. I’ve had stir fry and salads…seasoned mostly with garlic scapes and spring onions that were part of the share. Will I be able to use all the first share before I pick up the next one? Probably not. I can always use the bunch of kale to make chips; they always getting eaten fast. I’ve discovered that I like to process the salad greens in the Ninja or food processor to make very green slaw rather than tradition bigger chunks of green.

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When I got the veggies home – I just put them in the crisper as they came from the farm. It means there is a little more prep to use them than there would be if I did the first round of prep before I put them in the refrigerator. It also means that they won’t last quite as long as they would in a bag or more airtight container. Maybe I’ll do the work when I pick up the share this week.

Brookside – May 2019

I’m just now getting around to posting some pictures I took at Brookside Gardens in May: the butterfly exhibit, the conservatory – and everything blooming outdoors. So many subject to photograph – flowers, immature seed pods, seeds, leaves, garden furniture and fountains….peonies, poppies, magnolias, alliums, maples, dogwood…what’s not to like. Enjoy the big slideshow!

The side of the conservatory not used for the butterfly exhibit always has interesting plants in bloom – or photo worthy in other ways (like giant water droplets on green leaves).

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The door that volunteers and staff use is surrounded by greenery. Somehow it seems bigger this year.

I arrive 15 minutes before my shift in the butterfly exhibit. Sometimes I have a few minutes between the orientation and the arrival of the first visitors arriving to photograph butterflies.

May is a big month in the gardens. I have a series of Brookside Gardens rose pictures that I’m saving for another post.

Cape May Birding Festival Finale

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On the last morning of the Cape May Spring (birding) Festival, we took a trolley tour that included the second stop at Cook’s Beach for more shore birds…but the rest stop at the New Jersey Audubon – Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research and Education offered some different types of photography.

I indulged in some macro photography with my cell phone…targeting some of the native plants in the garden beside the building.

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There was a bee stealing nectar from the base of a flower.

I managed to capture pollen threads on native honeysuckle using the phone camera at close range (no macro lens).

Using my camera…and zooming – the cliff swallow nesting in the eaves of the building was visible. The bird kept an eye on the people below but did not move from the nest. Nearby many carpenter bees were making holes in the siding of the building. They were moving around too fast to photograph.

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As our group was getting ready to leave – someone noticed a box turtle in the front vegetation. What a beautiful specimen!

Cook’s Beach Birds

The highest density of birds we saw at one place during the  Cape May Spring (birding) Festival was at Cook’s Beach. They are drawn to the beach by the horseshoe crab eggs – rich food to fatten them up before they continue north on their migration.  I took lots of pictures and was challenged to select the ones I would include in this post. I took a sequence when something startled the birds and they took off – swirled around and landed again. The beach seemed very full even when there were a lot of birds in the air.

In some places the gulls seemed to dominate and there were a lot of horseshoe crabs still around. The Laughing Gulls (black head) and larger Herring Gulls are easy to distinguish.

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Sometimes it was a large group of just Laughing Gulls.

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I got my best picture of a cormorant of the festival at the beach. The birds were on the pilings – not the beach – and seemed to be observing the ruckus on the beach. The out-of- focus birds in the foreground are Ruddy Turnstones. The gull is probably a second year Herring Gull.

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This picture includes Forster’s Terns (the black and white birds) and Ruddy Turnstones on the pilings – preening. The Ruddy Turnstones look rounded…probably are already fattening up.

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There is a back of Ruddy Turnstone on the beach in this picture….and the bird facing the camera is a Red Knot. Both birds are a little larger than the other shorebirds.

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The crowd of birds in the picture below are all Red Knots.  The birds with reddish color are in breeding plumage. The others are non-breeding. Note that two seem to be making eye contact.

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I liked this lineup of Herring Gulls, with the mature bird in front and sitting…the immatures standing behind.

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How many birds can you recognize in the picture below:

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The easy ones are laughing gull, red knot, and ruddy turnstone. There are some smaller shorebirds in the mix as well.

I couldn’t resist one botanical picture as we headed back to the car – a rose growing where vegetation meets the beach.

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Gleanings of the Week Ending June 8, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

5 Unusual Species Found in and Around the Everglades - The National Wildlife Federation Blog – I’ve seen two of the 4: the snail kite and wood stork!

Want to reduce single-use plastic in your life? Try these tips from National Geographic Explorer and #ExpeditionPlastic team member Lillygol Sedaghat. – National Geographic Society Newsroom – It’s hard to avoid single use plastics completely….but easy to cut back.

How big data can be used for personal health -- ScienceDaily – Yes – doing a lot of tracking of personal health information and having a baseline might be useful – but it’s not clear (from this article) that it didn’t result in overtreatment. It will be a challenge to match treatments in asymptomatic situations…that may never develop into a health problem. How well do we really understand risks?

BBC - Future - How weeds help fight climate change – And experiment in Australia showing how weeds might help in the process toward sustainable agriculture

Fracking: Earthquakes are triggered well beyond fluid injection zones: Computer model and field experiment data suggest a new link between subsurface injections and earthquake swarms -- ScienceDaily – Oklahoma….in the hot center of man-made earthquakes.

Do additives help the soil? Scientist suggests nature knows what's best -- ScienceDaily – Wow – a whole industry (bio-fertilizers) that is not having the positive effect on crops anticipated….and could have long-term effects on soil that are not positive. Why is the industry surviving?

Blood-squirting insects and more tiny creatures flourish in African park – Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique.

Exploring the origins of the apple -- ScienceDaily – Large fruits developed to attract large animals like wild horses and large deer…..and probably other animals that are now extinct. The modern apple is a hybrid of at least 4 wild apple populations….along the Silk Road.

A Better Route Planner & Other Open Source Projects Need Our Help | CleanTechnica – Technology that needs to mature before Electronic Vehicles become more numerous.

Excessive rainfall as damaging to corn yield as extreme heat, drought -- ScienceDaily – This year there has been too much rain in the corn belt. This story is over a month old but there are still areas of high water. What percentage of the corn fields haven’t been planted yet because they are still flooded?

Rea Farm, “The Beanery”

Our second day at the Cape May Spring (birding) Festival, started at 7 rather than 5:30 AM like the first one and was closer to our hotel at Rea Farm – a former lima bean farm (thus “The Beanery” name) owned by the Rea Family with birding rights leased to New Jersey Audubon. We had a large enough group that the guides split us into two and we made different circuits through the property. The land has some cultivated areas, but most has returned to heavily vegetated thickets and wet forest. Some of the farm buildings and abandoned machinery are being taken over by vegetation.

There has been some effort to remove invasive plants and give natives a chance to grow. We heard a lot of birds and I saw many with my binoculars. It was a very cloudy day – not great for catching fast moving birds. The only reasonably good picture I got of a bird was of a Great Crested Flycatcher.

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There were a few spittle bugs – not that you can see the nymph of the froghopper (Cercopoidea) through the foam.

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I reverted to plants as subjects for my camera on the hike. There was a lot of variety. The zoom on the camera makes these photographs quick and I didn’t step off the mowed grass path. I had tucked my jean leggings into by socks and sprayed my boots and leggings with insect repellent…but the area is known for its ticks….not a place to go off trail.

Overall – the walk through the variety of habitats at The Beanery was a great way to start our second day at the festival.

Zooming – May 2019

It’s the end of the month – and time to select some images that I utilized the zoom on my camera to capture. I took over 2,000 images in May and at least half of them used that feature – so I had a lot to choose from.

There are quite a few birds in the slideshow this month. Can you find: red-winged blackbird displaying its colors, oystercatcher on the beach, laughing gull, least tern on a barrel, osprey on their nest, peregrine falcon with chicks, and several crowds of shorebirds. The bird feet are those of a mockingbird.

There is a painted turtle, ghost crab and horseshoe crab in the mix as well.

Enjoy the May slideshow!

Ten Little Celebrations – May 2019

May has been a busy month with travel and prep for more travel…lots of volunteer gigs and home maintenance too. As usual – it was easy to identify something to celebrate each and every day. Here are 10 that I’m highlighting for the month.

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Plantain chips. I made my own plantain chips using a plantain from the conservatory at Brookside Gardens. It was a spring celebration of Thanksgiving – good food from a local harvest.

Caterpillar on the hickory. I was hiking with second graders looking at habitats…and what lives in them (paricularly insects). When we came to a young hickory tree that had been planted on earth day, it had some holes in the leaves. It was a small enough tree that we could carefully look under the leaves…and we found a caterpillar! It was one of those serendipity momets…the children were pleased with their find and I celebrated sharing their experience.

Clean car mats. My husband and I both took the mats out of our cars and hosed them off – no more salt and mud that had accumulated over the winter! We picked a sunny day so they could mostly dry out in the driveway after we hosed them off. I am celebrating a cleaner car interior.

Good weather for 4th grade field trip. Earlier in May we were having a lot of rain…and I wondered how the back to back field trips were going to dodge the deluge. At this point I am celebrating not having a single rainy day field trip (even thouh I am prepared with a super rain poncho). The 4th grade field trip was a close call….it didn’t rain and we managed to step around the mud puddles.

A whole day at home. Between volunteer gigs and travel, there were very few days that I could just be at home. When it happened – I celebrated the day to recouperate.

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Horseshoe Crabs. I had never seen horse shoe crabs in action like I saw in Cape May. They are recovering after overharvesting….an ancient creature filling its niche in the web of life. Something to celebrate.

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Light on flowers. I missed most of the azaleas blooming this spring…but managed to get some spotlighted in the dappled light along the path near the stream at Brookside Gardens. I celebrated the photographic experience.

Pre-schoolers are Belmont. I’ve only managed to do one field trip with pre-schools so far this season. What fun they are! I talked to them about trees. We pretended to start out as seeds and grow into a forest…then have the breeze ruffle out leaves (fingers)…and then we talked about trees and wind. Some groups fell down in a heap when the really strong winds came! It’s easy to celebrate the outdoors with pre-schoolers.

Rainy day with butterflies – Mother’s Day. It rained on Mother’s Day and the morning started slow in the Wings of Fancy conservatory – the butterflies weren’t very active and there were not early visitors. I celebrated by taking some butterfly pictures with my phone. And then the ramp up of activity began. It became a busy morning.

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White morpho butterflies. The brilliant irridescent blue morphs are probably the most popluarl butterflies in the Wings of Fancy exhibit. I celebrated the butterflies that are new or not quite as common. The white morphos are one of the special ones I’m celebrating this year.

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 25, 2019

Eye's vulnerability to macular degeneration revealed -- ScienceDaily – All cells of the macula are not the same. The ones in the central part (Muller cells) are smaller and shaped differently than the cells around the edges…and they are the ones involved in macular degeneration. Knowing more about the central cells may lead to more focused treatment.

Dangerously High Air Pollution Levels Found in Most U.S. National Parks - Yale E360 – Our national parks are places to enjoy natural beauty…be outdoors. Its very sad to know that air pollution is a problem.

Banana disease boosted by climate change -- ScienceDaily – Black Sigatoka – a fungal disease impacting bananas – is not virtually worldwide. It’s surprising that bananas are still such a bargain in our grocery stores.

Ten Tips for Being a Good Partner - On the Job - AGU Blogosphere – Good tips…and I liked the illustrative examples from real projects.

Oldest known trees in eastern North America documented -- ScienceDaily – In North Carolina there is a Bald Cypress that it at least 2,624 years old!

Does insulin resistance cause fibromyalgia? A newly confirmed link with insulin resistance may radically change the way fibromyalgia and related forms of chronic pain are identified and managed -- ScienceDaily – Researchers dramatically reduced pain of fibromyalgia patients with medication that targeted Insulin resistance.

Dogs Sniff Out Invasive Mussels at Chickasaw National Recreation Area – In the early 1970s, my husband and I often visited this area of Oklahoma (also visiting what was then Platt National Park). Kudos to the people trying it keep Zebra Mussels out of the Lake of the Arbuckles!

Soaking up pharmaceuticals and personal care products from water -- ScienceDaily – A new acronym (PPCPs = Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products). These are being detected in water everywhere usually in low concentrations but increasing…so it’s good that research is underway to develop ways to remove them from water.

A New View of Bird Vision – Cool Green Science – The article describes ways bird vision is being studied and provides examples of specific UV sensitivities in turkeys and red-winged black birds.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: May – National Geographic Society – Last but not least for this week --- enjoy some bird pictures.

Belleplain State Forest

We got up at 3:30 AM to get to our first organized field trip of the Cape May Spring (birding) Festival by 5:30 AM – a very early start to the day at Belleplain State Forest.  As the sun came up, the forest was full of bird song. We heard a lot of birds…saw fleeting glimpses of a few. I am in awe of people that can identify birds by simply hearing them! I enjoyed the morning light for photography of the forest itself while I listened to the birds and tried to spot them with my binoculars.

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The mountain laurels were in all stages of their bloom. They like the shade under oaks but sometimes the sunlight streamed through the canopy to spotlight the clusters of blooms. The buds look very pink…the petals make a ‘balloon’ before they open into the full flower that looks white with red specks.

On one of the early stops – before it was fully light – I noticed a tree full of burls. These are swellings in the trunks or big limbs of trees that are covered by bark. They are part of the tree’s response to stress like injury or disease. Because of the number of them in this case, it’s more likely to be a disease of some kind.

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The only easy birds to photograph during the trip were some Canada Geese (with goslings) on a small lake.

The lighting makes quite a difference. I liked the green background but the painterly look (nearer the limit of the digital zoom) of the bright picture is also appealing.

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There was moss growing over the roots of a tree near a lake – a carpet melded to every nook and cranny of the surface with the roots on the surface showing through.

Some Virginia Creeper was growing on a stop sign.

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There were wet woods along the road. Some frogs croaked. There were water bugs on the surface – interference patterns and the tree reflections.

One of my favorite pictures of the morning was the tip of a pine branch – dying or dead – spotlighted – surrounded by green.

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 Overall – it was a great morning to be out in the forest – getting a fill of the forest before be headed to the shore.

Mt. Pleasant – May 2019

I arrived at Howard County Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant before one of the elementary school field trips – early enough to take a short hike and photograph some of the May sights along the trail. One of the first birds I saw was a small flock of gold finches near the Community Garden – eating ravenously.

Earlier in the week, when I was hiking with 2nd graders, we had spotted some caterpillars on a newly planted hickory tree. I never try to photograph things while I have a field trip group with me, so I was going back to try to photograph the caterpillars. The morning was cool…and I couldn’t find the caterpillars on the tree! The walk through the quiet area of new trees – invasive removed – was worth it anyway - a contrast to the noisy enthusiasm that would arrive on the school buses.

On the walk back, I was quite enough approaching a nest box to see the tree swallow at the hole. It looks almost like a plug – a perfect fit!

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There was a feather in the grass beside the mowed path. From a hawk? The feather was large…must have come from a large bird.

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The dew was still on the funnel spider webs. It’s hard to find them after the grass is dry.

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Dandelions had already had a first round of flowers…and gone to seed.

The tulip poplar (also called yellow poplar) had lots of buds…ramping up to blooms. The flowers do look a lot like tulips!

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Gleanings of the Week Ending May 18, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

Beautiful Photos by Manuelo Bececco Captures the Essence of the Forest – Awesome views of the forest…mostly looking upward.

IYPT 2019 Elements 023: Vanadium: Hardened steel and yellow blood | Compound Interest – Vanabins are vanadium-binding proteins that make sea cucumber blood yellow!

Titanium: Sunscreens and space stations | Compound Interest – Lots of makeup and other cosmetics have titanium (for its sunscreen properties) and fighter jets do too!

Marine Viruses Detailed from Pole to Pole | Technology Networks – There are a lot more viruses than previous cataloged in the ocean. The are in roughly 5 groups based on location and depth. The Arctic Ocean has high viral diversity…higher than at the equator.

NASA's Cassini reveals surprises with Titan's lakes -- ScienceDaily – The data from Cassini’s final flyby of Titan in 2017 has revealed that the lakes in its northern hemisphere are more then 300 feet deep and are methane. Lots more science still to come as more analysis of the Cassini data is done.

Could high-flying drones power your home one day? - BBC News – How could this not cause problems with aircraft if it was widespread? Both the drone and the tether could cause problems.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Passerines – Always room on the gleanings list for bird photographs!

Four ways to attract birds and butterflies – Native plants, bird bath, brush pile in my yard….3 of 4 is not bad!

Black, Hot Ice May Be Nature’s Most Common Form of Water – Superionic ice – a new kind of ice crystal with the oxygen atoms forming a cubic lattice and the hydrogen atoms flowing like liquid through the rigid cage of oxygens.

We’ll soon know the exact air pollution from every power plant in the world. That’s huge. –It won’t just be regulators and politicians that can see the data…it will be accessible by the public too. It will become a lot clearer to everyone which power plants are negatively impacting air quality.