Gleanings of the Week Ending September 28, 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.

Marriott Aims For 33% Reduction in Plastic Waste | CleanTechnica – Marriott will do this by 2020. They will do away with the tiny tubes of shampoo, conditioned and other toiletries, replacing then with larger bottles affixed to the walls. It’s a step in the right direction and we all need to be looking for these steps that are ‘easy.’ We also need vendors to do their part and transition away from plastic packaging. Remember that plastic is relatively recent; there are still people alive that remember a time without it! But we need new solutions rather than just going back to pre-plastic days….it will take focus and creativity…and a demand from all of us – to rid ourselves of the negative aspects of plastic.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Endemic Birds – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Beautiful birds.

Dam Removal Complete on Maryland's Patapasco River - News | Planetizen – Some close-to-home news. I had been tracking these dam removals over the past few years and hearing reports about preparation and results at the annual Maryland Water Monitoring Council conference.

Harmful Algal Blooms (Red Tide) – Information and maps about algal blooms. I looked at the Chesapeake Bay part of the site.

Ghost Crabs Use Teeth in Their Stomachs to Ward Off Predators | Smart News | Smithsonian – This article reminded me of the ghost crab we saw on Two Mile Beach near Cape May, New Jersey last May. We must have been far enough away to not be too threatening; the crab did not make any noise at all.

Drinking tea improves brain health, study suggests -- ScienceDaily – I like to drink tea…and it gets even better with studies like this. The opposite it true for soft drinks…even the diet ones. Those I need to reduce or stop drinking completely.

Can We Turn Down the Temperature on Urban Heat Islands? - Yale E360 – Work to gather more detailed information about the heat islands within cities. The extra details help clarify strategies of how to reduce them. Some of the ideas I had heard before…others – like varying building heights – I had not.

Topography could save sensitive saguaros as climate changes -- ScienceDaily – We haven’t been back to Tucson since my daughter finished her graduate work at University of Arizona; but I always browse articles about the place. This research was done at U of A…and I was glad that the iconic saguaros might adapt to climate change – at least on Tumamoc Hill.

A Field Guide to The Feral Parrots of the US – Cool Green Science – Wow – there are a lot more of them than I realized.

Neurotoxin lead sometimes added to turmeric for brighter color -- ScienceDaily – Very scary. Are we sure they don’t export the tainted turmeric?



Last week, I volunteered when the Phillips Wharf Environmental Center’s Fishmobile visited an elementary school in Carroll County, Maryland.

The Fishmobile is a bus fitted with aquarium tanks for live exhibits of animals from the Chesapeake Bay and bookcases/walls of related materials. It’s a field trip that comes to the school! Groups of 10-12 students take about 15 minutes in the bus to see everything…spending another 15 minutes outside getting more details about horseshoe crabs. There were 4 classes of 4th graders that came through in 2 hours!

I managed to take pictures of some of the animals in the Fishmobile before the students arrived. There were small horseshoe crabs – the smallest being a little larger than a quarter. They were active all over the bottom of their tank.


The oyster toadfish was not happy after the first few groups and retreated to the back of the tank. I was glad I got a picture of him.


The lined seahorse was one that was harder to photograph. It was a good discussion starter since the seahorse depends on the grasses in the bay and is becoming more numerous now that they are recovering. I was impressed that the 4th graders were aware of the grasses even if they didn’t know about the seahorses.

The only animal in the Fishmobile that the students could touch was the diamondback terrapin. They were told to use 2 fingers gently on his back…because he can bite! He evidently is very accustomed to handling…and he has a name: Larry. There was a baby diamondback terrapin (hatched last fall) in a neighboring tank that didn’t move around very much.

There was also a small box turtle and a mystery box with a box turtle shell. We prompted the students that tried the mystery box to feel whether the shell was flat or domed…and then to look at all the turtles on display to identify what kind of shell was in the mystery box.


The fish that had a name linked to history was the hogchoker. It is a flounder like fish that lives in the grassy areas of the bay. When the colonists collected the grasses to fee to their pigs, sometimes this fish was harvested with the grasses….and choked the pig that tired to eat it. That’s how it got its name.


The bookcases had jaws from a modern shark…and a fossil tooth, a dolphin skull, and the molt of a horseshoe crab. There was a wall of various kinds of trash with estimates of how long it took to degrade. Plastic water bottles and fishing line take 100s of years!

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 24, 2018

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.

Top 25 Migratory Wild Birds – National Geographic Blog – Lots of birds on the move this time of year.

Photobook Captures Diverse Beauty of 100 Different Types of Chickens – Who knew there were so many kinds of chickens!

Some states now advocate coexistence with–rather than killing of–coyotes – National Geographic – We have an overpopulation of deer in our area…and we hear coyotes more frequently. The only time I’ve seen them is a blurring running away from me. I’m cheering them on this spring; maybe they will help limit the size of the deer population.

BBC - Future - Why being a loner may be good for your health – Being alone is not the same as being lonely!

Strange and Unbelievable Facts About Shrews – Cool Green Science – I’ve never seen a shrew – or maybe I just didn’t realize what I was seeing. Watch the 2 videos!

Migrations and Other Colorful Natural Phenomena – Appreciating the natural world…

State-by-state causes of infant mortality in the US: State-by-state analysis links sudden unexpected deaths of infants (SUDI) to high proportion of full-term infant mortality in the U.S. -- ScienceDaily – I was surprised at the variability within the US.

Are Bird Feeders Helping Cardinals Expand Their Range? – Cool Green Science – A positive for bird feeders? I know we have cardinals that visit our feeder area almost every day…all year long.

Historical Sign of Chesapeake Winter, the Canvasback, Still Brightens the Bay – National Geographic – There numbers are greatly reduced…but they still are quite a site. I am already planning a field trip for next winter!

Zion National Park – I came close to visiting this park but the Federal Government shut down that October….it’s a place I’ll eventually visit. It’s also a great place for this article to use for a photography tutorial.

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 27, 2018

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.

Transmission Upgrades & Expansion Are Necessary to Meet Increasing Demand for Wind & Solar | CleanTechnica – The key barrier is planning that requires coordination across regions. The Central US contains the most technical potential for wind and solar development but the largest growth in energy consumption is along the coasts…hence the need for transmission upgrades.

How Birds Survive the Cold: Feathers + Food = Warmth | All About Birds – A timely article about bird survival strategies. I was pleased that I see quite a few of the birds featured in the article in my backyard: juncos, finches, blue jays, chickadees, downy woodpecker, and blue birds.

A Wild Year for the Whooping Crane: The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Still on the edge of extinction…but the numbers in the wild flock that migrate from Canada down to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is slowly increasing.

Forensic Facial Reconstruction Reveals 9,000-Year-Old Face – It seems like a lot of facial reconstruction has happened recently. This one is for an 18-year-old woman from Greece (9,000 years ago).

People with tetraplegia gain rapid use of brain-computer interface -- ScienceDaily – What a hopeful result – both for people with disabilities and more broadly.

On the Chesapeake, A Precarious Future of Rising Seas and High Tides - Yale E360 – We live very close to the Chesapeake Bay…so I always take note when it appears in my news feeds. The 15-minute video about Dorchester County is well done. I am familiar with Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge; it was the first place I saw a bald eagle in the wild….28 years ago. It has a lot more open water now and by the end of the century will be completely under water.

The Intelligent Plant | The New Yorker – An older article but new to me. It was referenced in a lecture I went to recently. Very readable…a new way of understanding plants.

Understanding the Nomadic Habits of Snowy Owls – Cool Green Science – We only see snowy owls in Maryland in winter…and then rarely. There’s always a possibility.

Canyonlands National Park – I’ve only been in that part of Utah once – and it was in October 2013 when the government was shut down….so I didn’t get to visit the park. This article has given me the idea that it would be a good place to camp – take the telescope for the night skies and hike in the mornings.

Air quality is leading environmental threat to public health: Switzerland tops the report while India falls to the bottom tier -- ScienceDaily – The US places 27th of 108 countries (strong scores on sanitation and air quality…but weak performance on deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. We’re near the back of the industrialized nations.