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.

Our Front Yard

The milkweed is up in the front flowerbed. Hopefully some monarch butterflies will show up soon to lay eggs on it and my monarch nursery will be in business for this year.

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The day lilies are still just green – no bud stalks yet. I’ll try to cut the buds before the deer eat them (enjoy them in vases indoors) and just leave the greenery behind. There are some black eyed susans that should offer some yellow to the beds once the temperature is warm enough.

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The smell of mint rises as I pull weeds – I try to leave the mint behind.

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There are plenty of weeds and grass to pull in the front flower beds. It helps to have the day lilies shading out some of them.

The ninebark bush has some blooms this year and seems to be healthier. Maybe the deer did not eat it as much this past winter.

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I have one iris that is about ready to bloom. I cut it to take inside a few days after this picture was taken. The other irises have leaves but no stalks yet. They do seem to be recovering from whatever ate most of the rhizomes year before last.

Virginia creeper is growing on the oak. I’m leaving it for now because I like the contrast it makes with the day lily leaves around the base of the tree.

Over all – I’m slowly making progress to get the front flower beds looking lush with greenery and weed-free. The Next chore will be trimming the bushes. There is one I will wait on; it has a catbird nesting in it.

Mockingbird at Belmont

We don’t have a resident mockingbird near our house (the trees are too thick now that the neighborhood is 25+ years old), but I see them every time I got to Belmont. Northern Mockingbirds are year-round residents in Maryland. They pick up ‘songs’ from their environment – most of the time other birdsongs but it can be any noise.

I got to Belmont early on a couple of field trip days to take pictures of a bird in the nature place space. It could have been the same bird both days…or not. The space is surrounded by a meadow so plenty of opportunity for the mockingbird to spot insects for a tasty snack or meal. There are plenty of trees and vines with small fruits that develop over the summer surrounding the meadow to feed the mockingbirds into fall and winter. This is prime habitat for the birds.

See the the mockingbird slide show below – the bird enjoying the morning…before the buses arrived.

Egrets at Chincoteague

This is the last of the posts about our trip to Blackwater and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. It was a very windy morning that my husband and I photographed two kinds of Egrets along the main drive of the refuge. We used the car as a blind – rolling down the windows on the driver’s side (I was in the back seat) and stopping whenever we spotted something we wanted to photograph. The sequence below is of a Snowy Egret…fishing with the wind ruffling its feathers.

A little further along another Snowy Egret sat still for a portrait (face and yellow feet)!

A Great Egret caught a fish!

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After than action – it continued to search for food. I missed the beginning of the action and the bird must have been frustrated because it didn’t come up with a fish!

This was a very different experience from the Egret Rookery in Dallas (see post here) where the birds were nesting rather than searching for food.

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 11, 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.

Epic Proportions - Archaeology Magazine – Standard measures of Stonehenge and other Neolithic monuments?

Potassium: Soaps and radioactive bananas | Compound Interest – Potassium regulates blood pressure and transmission of nerve impulses in our bodies!

Colorful Birds  and Terrestrial birds – From the National Geographic Society. Still catching up on the backlog. I enjoy birding – and seeing birds in action…and photographs of birds taken by others. That’s why these photographic collections show up on my gleanings list.

BBC - Future - The princess who transformed war medicine – A little medical history not widely known from the early 1900s.

Ancient secrets of medicinal mint -- ScienceDaily – There are so many members of the mint family. This article is about the DNA sequencing from a plant…learning how to more rapidly tap the therapeutic benefits of that plant and the mint family at large.

Four Out of 10 Americans Breathe Unhealthy Air - Yale E360 – That’s 141 million people…up 7 million since last year….partly due to impacts of climate change on air quality. So – we need to find ways to clean up air better than we do now either by reducing emissions or cleaning them out once they are produced.

Aging gracefully: Study identifies factors for healthy memory at any age -- ScienceDaily – The good news is that some of the factors are things we can control - engaging in more social activities, more novel cognitive activities, losing excess weight, and living with others.

What is a Naturalized Outdoor Learning Environment? -The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) program….daily access to the outdoors for young children. When I was growing up, we were outdoors most days but that is not happening consistently these days. I applaud the initiatives that are honing ways to get children outdoors more.

Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered - The New York Times – A hefty article on the topic…with pull down details.

Medical guidelines may be biased, overly aggressive in US -- ScienceDaily – Thought provoking. How is a patient to know when a doctor recommends a test or procedure that it is truly in the best interest of the patient when the doctor has a financial interest in the recommendation, or the doctor is so specialized that they always think their specialty is the best solution?

Red-Headed Woodpecker at Blackwater

Another bird we saw at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was a Red-headed Woodpecker. There is a lot of standing dead wood in the refuge because of the water level changes in recent years. Trees less tolerant to wet roots or brackish (becoming saltier) water are dying. One area along the wildlife loom was almost all dead and the woodpeckers were having a heyday based on the numbers of holes we saw…and then we saw the red-headed woodpecker. It wasn’t at work…just looking around in the forest and didn’t notice when we got out of the car (quietly….didn’t turn the engine off or close the doors).

It posed very nicely on the snag – one that the tree top had already fallen from.

So many woodpeckers have some red on their head…but this is the one that gets the name. It is in this area for both breeding and wintering. This part of Blackwater is prime habitat for it…at least for now.

Lunch in Sherman TX

While I was Texas, we made a trip to Sherman to visit my sister and lunched in downtown Sherman. We parked on Courthouse Square and then walked about a block to the restaurant – past some wall art on one of the old buildings. I liked the colors and curves.

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The building the restaurant was in (Fulbelli’s) was in from the 1870s and has been restored for use by small shops and eateries. The light wells bring light from above down through the building – as intended when the building was initially built before electric lighting. The restaurant is on the second floor and we were taken up (and back down) on the antique elevator by an attendant – an adventure in elevator history!

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After lunch we browsed through the hallways (Sherman history pictures on the walls) and small shops.

I found some interesting earrings made by a local artist from leather and metallic paint. I’m going to try wearing them to my next Wings of Fancy shift…see if the blue morphos are attracted to them. The blue looks the same in certain light, but it tends to shift toward green in certain light and the blue morphos shift toward pink; they are both a structural color probably but not the same.

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Tricolored Heron at Chincoteague

We didn’t see as many herons at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (see previous post here) as we have in years past. Maybe they were hunkered down in the rain or way from the wind. It was not ideal weather while we were there. The one we did see was not as common as some of the others: a tricolored heron.

It is distinguished from the Little Blue Heron by its white underparts and white on its neck. And it’s smaller than the Great Blue Heron.

This bird was feeding in a waterway with high banks…somewhat protected from the wind. I was pleased with the way the feathers were ruffled and smoothed as I watched the bird move about – oblivious to us in our car (used as a blind).

Blackwater Osprey Drama

We saw more Osprey at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge than we did bald eagles (see previous post for the bald eagle pictures).

There was an occupied nesting platform near the beginning of the wildlife loop (to the left – labeled Little Blackwater River on the map). There was a bird on the nest on both days we drove the loop. Since we knew the nest was there and we were using the car as our blind, my husband and I had already positioned ourselves on the left side of the car with camera supports on the doors on the second day; his was a metal frame that the camera mounted on and mine was a neck pillow turned downward over the door frame…enough for my smaller camera (it was an experiment and worked…good to know for when I travel…yet another reason to take a neck pillow along).There were osprey vocalizations almost immediately and then the male swopped in and there was mating action on the nest.  It was a good thing we were already prepares for photography! The whole sequence below took place in about a minute.

The male flew off to a snag further along the wild life loop afterwards.

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Further along the loop there was an osprey on a post closer to the wildlife loop – an opportunity to get some bird portrait shots.

We took the turn off onto the part of the loop that goes by Pools 5a-c…and there was another osprey nesting pair! These two seemed to be doing a bit of nest rearranging and watching the skies for danger. It was a very windy day – ruffled feathers.

This part of the drive exits near the Tubman Visitor Center.

Overall – osprey were the dramatic stars for the Blackwater Wildlife Loop!

Brookside Wildflowers

I enjoy the boardwalk between Brookside Gardens and Brookside Nature Center in the spring. Earlier this week the boardwalk was my short walk before by shift in the Wings of Fancy exhibit. There are many native plants in this area that are looking good this spring. The plants are growing luxuriantly at this point – many in bloom.

Clumps of columbine

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Jack-in-the-pulpit (but they are green…sometimes hard to see)

Mayapples (the flower is sometimes hidden under the umbrella of leaves)

Skunk cabbage (with cypress knees poking up among the leaves)

Several kinds of ferns

Forest azaleas

And others.

Of course there are birds too….red-winged blackbirds are calling everywhere and robins are searching leaf mulch for a tasty worm!

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It was a productive 10-minute photo shoot!

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 4, 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.

Exploring the Parks: White Sands National Monument – Another place I want to return to and spend a bit more time. I’ve been once when we were on the way from Dallas to Tucson. I posted about it back in 2013. We stayed long enough to have a picnic, walk along the boardwalk trail, and photograph cliff swallows at the visitor center.

New Analysis of Depression-Era Fossil Hunt Shows Texas Coast Was Once a 'Serengeti' | Smart News | Smithsonian – Research on collections made by the Works Progress Administration and mostly just stored since the 1940s….Other states than Texas probably have research projects on these collections as well.

IYPT 2019 Elements 020: Calcium: Teeth, bones and cheese | Compound Interest – Another article in the International Year of the Periodic Table series. Did you know that the human body contains about 1 kilogram of calcium?

Image of the Day: High Contrast | The Scientist Magazine® - The milkweed bug! The milkweed is just beginning to come up so I haven’t seen any of these bugs yet this year…but they’ll come out soon enough. I’ll try to remember some of this article next time I see the bug with a group of field trip hikers!

12 Famous Flower Paintings, from Monet to Mondrian – A little eye candy. Notice that there are insects with the flowers in the Ambrosius Bosschaert painting.

An invasive, thorny tree is taking over Africa – can it be stopped? – It’s not just the US that has problems with invasive plants and animals brought from elsewhere in the world. The Mesquite tree that is problematic in Africa came from South America.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the week: April and Waterbirds – Catching up a little on the series…two this week and there are still some left for the next gleanings collection.

‘Exquisitely Preserved’ Skin Impressions Found in Dinosaur Footprints | Smart News | Smithsonian – The prints are from a small theropod. Not only do they show the impression left by skin…they also indicate the dinosaur was in Korea earlier than previously thought (10-20 million years earlier).

Electric Cars Could Be as Affordable as Conventional Vehicles in Just Three Years - Yale E360 – EV technologies are developing rapidly. In 2015, batteries made up 57% of the EV total cost; today it’s down to 33% and by 2025 the projection is 2025. I know that I have enjoyed my plug-in-hybrid and that my next car will probably be an EV.

Clean Tech Jobs Lead Employment Statistics in Many US States | CleanTechnica – The map is worth the look. Solar panel installer or wind turbine service technician is the fastest growing type of job in 11 states!

Rookery at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School

The rookery in the middle of Dallas – on the campus of UT Southwestern Medical School – is busy this time of year. I was there a little over a week ago and the egrets (mostly Great Egrets but some Snowy Egrets as well) were numerous and somewhat acclimated to people watching them. When we first arrived, there was a Great Egret on the ground retrieving a stick to enlarge the nest. And then we looked up in the trees and saw a lot of birds. I noticed the trees from the window of one of the nearby medical buildings where I’d taken my mother for a doctor’s appoint on a rainy day earlier in the week…and the birds were big enough to be noticeable from across the street. I’d worked in the area early in my career (about 45 years ago now!) and there had been lots of talk of cutting down the trees to expand the medical school; the protests back then saved the birds’ nesting area. The rookery has probably been there since the levies were built along the Trinity River and the trees cut down between the levies. The location of the rookery is not far outside the levies and has been active since the 1940s at least.

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There is a lot of bird interaction. I took this series that shows how spiky the feathers on the head can look. Were these Great Egrets having an argument over nest configuration?

Preening is also important for all the gorgeous breeding plumage.

There are Snowy Egrets around too – yellow around the eyes and yellow ‘socks’ on their feet. They are smaller than the Great Egrets but the distinctive features are easy to spot as well. They seemed relatively calmer than the bigger birds on the day I was there.

The Great Egrets provided the best portrait opportunities – with the tree and then zoomed in to almost fill the frame.

Sometimes they sit at the very top of the tree. Are they in sentinel mode when they do? Or maybe they are getting ready to fly out above the traffic and medical buildings and levy…to the river in search of fish for lunch. Soon the eggs will hatch, and the adults will be busy finding enough to feed the chicks.

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There is a small parking area on Campus (off UT Southwestern Drive) and a paved walkway back to a memorial area with a bench – perfect for people that want to enjoy the birds but not walk very far. There is also a loop mulch path that I’ll try next time I am in Dallas in the springtime. There are a lot of birds there from March through May…and some year-round residents. But the egrets – Great and Snow are the most numerous of the birds this time of year.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

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We visited a second National Wildlife Refuge last weekend: Blackwater. We usually visit Blackwater on the same trips at Chincoteague because it is ‘on the way.’ Of the two – Blackwater is my favorite. It is the first place I saw a bald eagle in the wild. It was back in 1990 when by daughter was a baby - a pleasant spring day and we were sitting out side on a blanket letting her finish off a bottle….and a bald eagle soared overhead. It was idyllic when it happened and in my memory. We saw eagles during this visit too. On the first day it was raining and the eagle was looking very wet. Note in the last picture of this series, the membrane eyelid on the right eye is closed (must have gotten a rain drop in the eye!).

The next morning when we drove around the wildlife loop again, it was sunny and there was an eagle on the same platform – maybe the same one – looking much happier. It took off before we could get pictures and continued to soar in the area until it vanished into the trees. There was another eagle on a snag near a blind – almost out of range for my camera.

The visitor center has a little garden at the back with small trees (like dogwoods) and a butterfly sculpture. There are bird feeders that attracted a few small birds. The red-winged blackbirds were very vocal. I saw a hummingbird sampling the clumps of columbine in the gardon on the sunny morning.

My husband saw a lump in the road and stopped quickly for us to get out and take a look: a baby snapping turtle. It didn’t move while we watched it, but it was in a patch of sun and would warm up enough to finish crossing the road soon after we left. It was already close to the edge of the road.

I’ll post later about the other birds we saw at Blackwater. I see something new just about every time we go to Blackwater…and this trip was no exception.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

We visited Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge last weekend…an afternoon and the next morning. The afternoon was very wet so the picture of the visitor center sigh with plants growing through it was taken the next morning in the sunshine.

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The growth around the visitor center was very green…dogwoods were in bloom and pine pollen was everywhere.

The growth around the visitor center was very green…dogwoods were in bloom and pine pollen was everywhere.

On the first day we drove down the main road toward the beach. It was raining and we didn’t try to take any pictures. The wildlife loop is only open to cars after 3 PM and there was a lull in the rain about that time. We started around. I noticed thistles in bloom (attractive to bees),

Heard lots of red-winged blackbirds and managed to photograph one eventually,

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And photographed a glossy ibis almost out of camera range.

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Near the end of the wildlife loop there were a few of the Chincoteague ponies munching on the wet grass….about that time is started raining again and we headed to our hotel for the night.

The next morning was very breezy and almost cold. Our trip to one of the islands in the Chesapeake Bay was cancelled – winds made it unsafe for small boats. So – we bundled up and headed to the beach at Chincoteague. It is a narrower stretch of sand than when we first saw it more than 35 years ago and when we flew kites here with our daughter about 20 years ago. The gulls were not flying. Only the laughing gulls were at the beach and they were on the ground near the parking lot rather than at the water’s edge.

It was a little disappointing to see only people and roiling water at the beach.

As we started back, we saw a few herring gulls in shallow water protected by the dunes.

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The group of birds a little ways from the herring gull was the high point of the morning at Chincoteague: royal terns and black skimmers (and laughing gulls)!

I’ll post later about the egrets and a heron we saw at Chincoteague. Even with the rain and doing most of our photography using the car as a blind, my husband and I both enjoyed the spring birding opportunities at Chincoteague.

Gleanings of the Gleanings of the Week Ending April 27, 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.

Berkeley Soda Tax, 3 Years In: What New Research Shows About Its Effectiveness | Berkeley Wellness - Consumption of sugary drinks has fallen by half in low-income areas of Berkeley, California.

The Real Reason You See Earthworms After Rain – Cool Green Science – There could be multiple reasons. Maybe they are moving to new territory while the surface is wet, and they won’t become dehydrated. Or maybe they want the extra oxygen that is at the surface.

Exploring The Parks: Great Sand Dunes National Park And Preserve – It’s been a long time since I have been to this park…and we didn’t explore it thoroughly when we were there. Maybe time to plan another trip.

Image of the Day: Pretty Jellies | The Scientist Magazine® - Genetic comparisons of jellyfish types

These Cities Are the Most Dangerous for Migrating Birds | Smart News | Smithsonian – Chicago, Dallas, and Houston….an area that Texas would probably prefer to not be at the top. Maybe the “Lights Out” trend with help.

Washington Monument Opening Pushed Back To August Due To Contaminated Soil – I was surprised when I saw this headline because I didn’t even know is was closed! The soil is below the surface and probably from the 1880s.

Allergy Season Is Getting Longer and Nastier Each Year | Smart News | Smithsonian – It’s happened gradually but the length of allergy season and the amount of pollen has been increasing over the past 20 years. There are new treatments for those suffering enough to go to allergists - many allergists are prescribing immunotherapy tablets for people suffering from grass pollen, dust mite or ragweed allergies.

Scientists Say They Have Found a Viable Replacement for Petroleum-Based Plastic - Yale E360 – Plant based material that has the strength and aesthetics…suitable for food packaging. The research described in the article is from Ohio State but there are probably others working on the problem too. If a replacement for petroleum-based plastic can be found it would make it much easier to ‘go green.’

BBC - Future - How air pollution is doing more than killing us and Air Pollution Increases ER Visits — Largest US Study On The Topic Confirms It | CleanTechnica – Lots of public health issues being studied in light of air pollution….and the findings are concerning. The linkage to things like asthma has long been discussed but now there are more details and more negative impacts of air pollution on health being identified.  Emerging studies show that air pollution is linked to impaired judgement, mental health problems, poorer performance in school and most worryingly perhaps, higher levels of crime.

#IYPT2019 – What elements do you need to live? – in C&EN | Compound Interest – An infographic to answer the question.

3 Free eBooks – April 2019

All three picks for this month are groups of items rather than just one – two magazines and the last one a series of volumes from the late 1700s of plants and animals. So many freely available books…so little time!

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Shadowland (magazine). New York City: M. P. Publishing Company from 1919 – 1923. Most issues available from Internet Archive here. Shadowland was an American monthly magazine about art, dance, and film. I particularly enjoyed the covers by A. M. Hopfmuller. The sample image I choose to include with this post was one that reminded me of a Zentangle pattern….a very stylized ‘tree.’

Sunset (magazine). San Francisco: Southern Pacific Company. Issues from May 1898 – 1923 from Hathi Trust here. The magazine has morphed many times and continued to be published after these fully available online issues (expired copyright); check the Wikipedia info here for the history. I have perused the issues to 1904 so far. I was intrigued by the picture of oil production in Los Angeles from the year one of my grandfathers was born.

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Shaw, George. The naturalists' miscellany : or Coloured figures of natural objects. London: Nodder & Co. 1789. 24 volumes available from Internet Archive here. The sample image I am including for these books is a cecropia moth; I’ll be starting my volunteering at the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens soon and hope we have cecropia caterpillars again this year!

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Ten Little Celebrations – April 2019

April has been a busy month – only at home for a week out of the month and not all at the same time. There was plenty to celebrate with spring in full swing and the travel to see it in different places.

Certified Zentangle® Trainer (CZT) class. There were so many perspectives of the CZT class to celebrate: the beauty of the creations everyone was making, the conversations, the food…the challenge of being a student…the Zen.

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Train ride home. I don’t go many places where taking the train is feasible…but the CZT class was one of them. I celebrated the low stress hours going home…a fitting finale to the class.

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4th and 5th grade field trips. The early April field trips happened with great weather and the students enjoying being outdoors to learn about the Patapsco heritage (land, water, and rocks) and BioBlitz. It’s always inspiring to see their curiosity and enthusiasm --- celebrating a spring field trip.


Getting to Dallas. I had to travel to Dallas quickly and it was easier than a thought it would be. And I celebrated that I was less stressed by the rapid change in plans (maybe the Zentangle class providing an added benefit.

Spring days. Noticing the rapidly developing blossoms of spring is fodder for many celebrations – oxalis is probably one of my favorites right now. It blooms when the sun is shining!

Rainy day (spent indoors). After busy days – having a rainy day spent indoors is something to celebrate…with homemade soup for lunch!

Josey Ranch Pocket Prairie. A little bit of prairie – carefully tended by volunteers – in a Dallas suburb! Right now it is a celebration of spring wildflowers.

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Cedar waxwings. Birds are migrating and there are serendipity sightings of birds that don’t stay around the area long. I celebrated seeing a small flock of cedar waxwings last week.

Botanical reminders of my grandmother. Many flowers in my parents’ Carrollton yard were planted by my grandmother…good memories to celebrate.

Home again. Providence, Rhode Island to home to Carrollton, Texas to home to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Smith Island to home. I like to travel…but coming home is celebratory too.

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The Zentangle® Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. It was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. "Zentangle" is a registered trademark of Zentangle, Inc. Learn more at zentangle.com.

Zooming – April 2019

The accelerating change of the seasons in Maryland and Texas…so much to see and do. I’ve picked a few of my favorite images captured with the zoom on my camera. There are insects in at least two of the flower images (maybe a third)….the little critters enjoying the spring bounty. Enjoy the April slideshow!

Josey Ranch Lake

After visiting the Pocket Prairie, I headed over toward the lake. The highlight of this part of the walk was a flock of cedar waxwings feeding around the blooms of a tree. I think they may have been eating tiny insects that were attracted by the blooms. They were very active – chowing down before continuing their migration. I didn’t get any great pictures of them, but I saw enough to identify them while I watched them feed! For some reason – a tend to think of them as slightly larger than they are (maybe because they have a crest like a cardinal, and I lapse into thinking they are the same size).

Otherwise the lake was a disappointment. There was a lone Canada goose and a few mallards. The birds that winter there have already moved northward. There were still a few coots around; they were all on the shore. Perhaps they stay for the summer too. The lake was almost empty.

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The resident boat-tailed grackles are noisy and have a lot of attitude. I took two sequences. On that was walking on the sidewalk as I headed back toward the car…

And another in the front of the drive near the library….I think he might have been warning me to come no closer!