Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens – June 2019

The plants that are the main attractions during  the June and July at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens are the lotuses and the water lilies.

The lotuses were in full bloom in the later part of June when we visited but there weren’t many seed pods yet.

I also found a rolled-up lotus leaf that was interesting. The leaves are round, balancing on a central stem but they start out as a scroll like structure that unfolds. This one was still tightly coiled. I might use it as a prompt to create a Zentangle pattern.

 The water lilies did not seem as dense as they have in previous years and I wondered if the rains and cool temperatures earlier this summer impacted the water lily development.

The button bush was beginning to bloom; I didn’t notice any seed pods yet. There is a ways to go before all the flowers are pollinated…lots of bee activity.

Two trees stood out:

There was a group of developing pine codes high up in a pine near the entrance and

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Some shelf fungus growing around a knot (maybe where a branch had been). It looks a little like a bear face to me. I’d noticed it last year too. The shelf fungus look more cracked this year but they still have the orange underneath.

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I heard green frogs and searched the shallows from where the sound seemed to emanate….but never  saw the frog.

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A pearl crescent butterfly opened its wings as it sat in the grassy path and paused long enough for me to get a picture.

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We saw two different kinds of turtles (identified with the help of a reference from Maryland Department of Natural Resources): a small red-eared slider (not native to our area but invading) and

A large northern red-bellied cooter – which is native to our area. It was a large specimen. I wondered how long it had taken to get that big…about 12 inches.

Both ponds had a lot of algae and muck so the turtle shells looked grubby but the heads were vey distinctive…enough for the identification.

Overall – the field trip to Kenilworth was worthwhile and very enjoyable. We went in the morning before the day got too hot.

Dragonflies at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

The lotuses and water lilies are blooming at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens from late June into July. The wetlands are attractive to dragonflies too; I saw 5 different kinds when I went on a late June weekend. I found a good reference to help me identify them from Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources.

The first one we saw – and the most numerous – were the blue dashers. They like to perch on the vegetation in the lotus and water lily ponds.

Along the boardwalk out into the Anacostia River wetlands, there were quiet a few autumn meadowhawks. They weren’t as good about staying put for a picture as the blue dashers.

Also on the boardwalk, there was a common whitetail with black bands on its wings.

There was a green eastern pondhawk on a sunny spot of the boardwalk as we were walking back along the boardwalk.

It wasn’t until I got home as was looking at my pictures that I realized I had photographed another type of dragonfly among the lotuses: a common baskettail. It was a pleasant surprise!

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Tomorrow I’ll post the other images from our walk around Kenilworth Gardens.

US National Arboretum in Early Spring

Last weekend we went to the US National Arboretum to see cherry blossoms. We entered the New York Avenue Gate and parked in the big lot just inside….with cherry trees in sight. We walked over to the trees. I got side tracked by some golden moss with spore capsules…had to take pictures from overhead and then from ground level. It was growing under the cherry trees.

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The days before we went had been windy and I found some blooms on the ground – little jewels in the dried leaves and moss.

I zoomed to get some close-up pictures of flowers on the trees – all shades of pink to white.

As I took some pictures of the high branches of one tree, I noticed a lot of bees. I was photographing hand held so had to be content with just knowing the dots in the pictures were insects!

We got back in the car and continued further into the arboretum. There were a lot of cars parking along the side of the road and we could see trees that were blooming ahead. We thought maybe it was more cherry trees. But no – it was deciduous magnolias! They were probably at their peak and gorgeous. People where photographing young children under the trees and held up next to the flowers. There were several different kinds of deciduous magnolias in bloom. My favorites were the deepest pink ones that I saw at the very beginning.

I zoomed in on two buds. Note that the outer covering is very fuzzy. Then there is a covering that looks like brown paper….and then the petals.

Evergreen (southern) magnolias are in the grove as well. They will be beautiful this summer. Right now, the empty pods from last summer are dried (on the tree or the ground under it) – and a study of complexity. I didn’t see a single red seed that had survived the winter in a pod!

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Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in August 2018 – Part III

Continuing the posts about last week’s visit to  Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, this post features the birds we saw. The first was a Great Blue Heron in one of the lotus ponds. It was moving around. Maybe it was looking for breakfast, but it didn’t find it while we watched.

We saw a Great Egret just off the boardwalk out over the marsh toward the Anacostia River. It was looking for breakfast…and found a fish!

A fish crow surveyed the marsh overhead….making noise to let the rest of the marsh know we were there.

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Further out toward the river were some more Great Egrets on a snag among the drying lily pads. One flew off its perch after a fish and then continued hunting among the lily pads.

As we walked back through the gardens toward the parking lot, my husband spotted a Great Blue Heron on a bridge over a pond. Do you see it?

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We slowly walked toward it. It noticed us and turned around….then flew off.

We noticed as we crossed the bridge that it must use the bridge railing as a perch frequently – based on the white bird droppings there.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in August 2018 – Part II

Last week we made our last trip to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens for this year. Today’s post features the insects and a turtle that we saw. There were a few monarch butterflies; there are so few these days that I always celebrate even if I just see one!

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The insects my husband wanted to photograph were dragonflies. There were several species flying in the garden but the only ones that sat long enough to photograph were the blue dashers. They like to perch while they survey their surroundings. I photographed individuals on a dried flower (note how battered the wings look),

On signs,

A lotus pod (did something take a bite of the pod?),

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And on other vegetation.

My favorite critter of the visit, was a Eastern Painted Turtle. It was getting some sun at the edge of a pond and looking very Zen. It was not still. When I first saw it, the front legs were tucked in. Then it stretched them out and turned itself toward me. I was on the other side of the pond an appreciating the zoom on my camera to capture the turtle without disturbing its morning.

Kenilworth Gardens – Other Stuff

Of course – lotuses, water lilies, buttonbushes and dragonflies were not the only things to see at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens last weekend. Even in the island of garden in the parking lot there were things to see. The most interesting (to me), were some tiny acorns on a lower branch of an oak

And a blue jay that seemed very acclimated to people.

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I didn’t spend much time on the boardwalk out to the river but was there long enough to capture a sleepy duck.

There were some colorful canna leaves in the morning sun and

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A gall on one of the trees with shelf fungus make it look something like a face (with a few too many eyes and eye brows!).

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The showy flowers of the rose mallow seemed to be everywhere. I love the flowers with their deep red centers but maybe the tightly wrapped petal in bud form are ever more interesting. Enjoy the mallow slide show below!

Kenilworth Gardens – Buttonbushes and Dragonflies

There are other things to see beside lotuses and waterlilies at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. One of my favorite plants to photograph is the buttonbush in bloom. They were in all stages of bloom development last weekend.

The plants are very attractive to insects. Bees are frequently visitors

As are the small skipper butterflies.

There was one large tiger swallowtail that seems to be methodically getting nectar and staying on once of the balls for a long time…great for picture taking.

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We always look for dragonflies when we visit Kenilworth and last weekend was no exception. There did not seem to be as many of them. The first one I managed to photograph sat on some lotus petals in the deep shade…and was a very small dragonfly.

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The next one was on top of a canna stalk and was the larger variety. It did not stay very long but I did manage to zoom in for close up.

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On my way back toward the visitor center I was photographing water lilies and noticed that one had a dragonfly on it! The zoom helped again since it was another small one.

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Kenilworth Gardens - Lotuses and Water Lilies

We try to make a trek to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens when the lotuses are blooming….and last weekend was a good time. The day was partly sunny, and we managed to get to the park before the parking lot filled up. There was plenty to see. I’ll be posting about it over the next few days; today I’ve collected the best images of lotuses and water lilies.

There were lotuses in all stages of development. Everything about these plants are beautiful: the shape and texture of the leaves, the buds and flowers standing above the leaves gracefully opening and following the sun, the pods beginning to form. My favorites are the flowers that have a lot of white in their petals with ping around the outer edges.

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I saw a petal in some water near the path and photographed it as the water turned it.

The petals wilt quickly once they fall from the flower so catching them in the cradle of a leaf always seems special to me.

There was an unusual white plant at the edge of the ponds just as we came into the gardens. Was it a kind of lily? I don’t know. It looked exotic to me and I took a picture.

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The water lilies were still blooming in the ponds. Sometimes they are beginning to ebb by the time the lotuses are blooming but this year they seem to be still blooming profusely.

Two flowers that I noticed in my pictures after I got home that looked like they had punches out of their leaves – a lotus and a water lily. I wondered what insect made the holes!

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens – Part 2

We saw quite a few animals among the plants at Kenilworth last Saturday. The dragonflies were not quite as numerous as they will be later when the lotuses are blooming. There wasn’t as much vegetation for them to set on either. The best shot I got of one was on the path.

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There was a scruffy looking Great Blue Heron on a path as well. It was preening and then spread its wings – stretching. I was surprised it did not fly away --- but maybe it did not notice we were around. There were not many people in the garden when we first got there.

A little further along a snapping turtle crossed the path to get to another pool. We let it continue along its way. It was bigger than a dinner plate!

As we were walking back toward the entrance after our trek on the boardwalk over the flood plain of the Anacostia River, we saw a muskrat in on of the water lily ponds. It looked like it was eating a tuber. Hopefully the animals do not take a big toll on the water lilies and lotuses of the garden.

Close to the visitor center there was a group of Canadian geese – adults and large goslings. We gave them plenty of room since the parents can be very aggressive if they have their young. We managed to not be attacked!

Washington DC in Traffic

We have been in and out of Washington DC 3 times over the past couple of weeks for sightseeing and getting a guest delivered to/from her hotel. We don’t make the trek very often, so we notice the uptick in traffic every time we go; it’s stressful.  I was glad my husband was driving rather than me both because of the heavy traffic – even during non-rush hours – and because I could take pictures of what we were passing by. With all the stops, there were plenty of opportunities! If the car is moving – I always take pictures through the windshield but can use the side windows if the car is stopped. Enjoy the slideshow below that I captured as we made our way through Washington DC.

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 7, 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.

How Do We Carry Our Shopping Home Now? | CleanTechnica – I’ve been using my collection of reusable bags for years. Some of them are over 10 years old and still in great shape. Occasionally, I still get a Lightweight Plastic Bag (or a newspaper in plastic, or other plastic bag packaging) which I take back to the bag recycling bin at my grocery store. I’m always sad when I set a grocery cart full of stuff in the plastic bags…hope none of them escape into the environment.

A Harlequin Duck’s Long Cross-Country Migration – Cool Green Science – A bird banded in Glacier National Park migrated to Long Island! Zoom lenses on cameras and binoculars make it possible to record banding info from a distance.

BBC - Future - The small Scottish isle leading the world in electricity – Eigg has an off-grid electric system powered by wind, water, and solar…they average 90-95% renewable energy. The time of year they tend to need back up generators is in the spring.

Implications of access to high-quality fruits and vegetables: Quality has potential to impact consumer selection and consumption in rural areas -- ScienceDaily – There has been a lot of discussion about food deserts in big cities – places that lack affordable, high-quality food. It appears that food deserts occur in rural areas as well.

Top 25 Endemic Wild Birds – National Geographic – The weekly bird photography fix! The chickadee we see frequently in our areas of the Mid-Atlantic of the US is endemic to our part of the world (and is one of the 25 pictured).

New Beginnings: Cherry Blossoms and Helen Taft's Landscape Diplomacy – Some years we manage to see the peak of the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin in Washington DC….but every year we enjoy the cherry tree in our front year. It is always at least a week later than the ones in DC.

US electricity use drops, renewables push fossil fuels out of the mix | Ars Technica – Total electrical generation was down 1.5 percent in 2017. Coal and natural gas declines were more than that with renewable energy projects coming online. Energy efficiency has made a difference! Another article reported that some utilities are planning for the uptick in electric vehicles to cause the trend in electricity generation to turn upward again. Right now – it seems like people that buy electric cars are often the same people that install solar panels; that could result in no uptick to the draw from the electric utility.

The Life Issue | WIRED – A collection of thought provoking articles about ‘what it means to live in an age of improvisation.’ I started with the articles about the 55-infinity age group.

Microscopic Images of Seeds • Insteading – hmm…maybe I’ll take a magnified look at seeds before I plant them in my flower beds.

Meditate regularly for an improved attention span in old age – Nice to know that something enjoyable immediately is also good for the long term too!

Arlington National Cemetery

Earlier this week we walked around Arlington National Cemetery. It’s a place we take out-of-town guests occasionally…more when we first moved to the area than recently when the traffic between where we live in Maryland and Washington, DC/Arlington, VA has increased so much. It was easy enough getting there the morning we went – easy to park in the garage near the visitor center. It was a little colder than we anticipated and there were busloads of students and tourists both arriving and leaving as we walked toward the visitor center. There was a short line to go through security and then a lot of people inside the building.

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I was glad to walk through the doors to the cemetery side of the building! The first sight I photographed was the sculpture that was there….something to look at and appreciate.

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The long rows of white marble tombstones flow in every direction broken my trees and walkways. The deciduous magnolia were the main trees in bloom. Arlington House is closed for rehabilitation and we didn’t walk up to it; the flag was at half mast in front of the house so there must have been a funeral near the time we were in the cemetery.

Just below Arlington house is the John F. Kennedy grave site. Every time I have visited Arlington Cemetery this has been a place to see. This time I also turned around and photographed the Washington and Lincoln Memorial and one of the famous Kennedy quotes.

The guard was changing at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We arrived a little after it started so I was not able to get a good picture. As it finished, and we turned to leave I enjoyed the frilly daffodils and understory of violets in front of the balustrade.

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We walked back through the cemetery and I managed to take pictures of Lincoln Memorial as we drove over Memorial Bridge. There appears to be some renovation work going on with this monument too.