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.

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?

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!

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.

2019 04 IMG_7015.jpg

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,

2019 04 IMG_6588.jpg

And photographed a glossy ibis almost out of camera range.

2019 04 IMG_6681.jpg

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.

2019 04 IMG_6846.jpg

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.

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.

2019 04 d IMG_5914.jpg

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!

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 20, 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.

People who feed birds impact conservation -- ScienceDaily – A study of the impact people have on birds….and the impact feeding birds has on the people!

Bird Species Impacted By Cutthroat Declines At Yellowstone – Colonial water birds have declined as the lake trout have increased (and cutthroat trout had decreased) in Yellowstone Lake. There could be other reasons for the decline of the pelicans, Caspian terns, and cormorants….more study needed.

Medicinal Uses of Mint: IBS, Itching, Nausea, and More | Berkeley Wellness - Human studies of peppermint in enteric-coated capsule form….confirming some of the benefits of peppermint oil. I like the peppermint flavor…so like fresh mint in salads and hot/cold water…the smell and the flavor are wonderful, so the other positive actions mint may have are just ‘icing’ on an already appreciated cake.

In ancient oceans that resembled our own, oxygen loss triggered mass extinction -- ScienceDaily – Oceans are big but they have reached tipping points in the past. This study looks closely at the Silurian Period…the conditions then and what happened with those conditions…making comparisons to the oceans of today.

What An Aging Population Means For The Future Of The Internet – The average age in many countries is trending older…how does that trend ripple into how the internet is used/misused?

Deciphering the walnut genome: Findings could lead to new walnut varieties -- ScienceDaily – Creating hybrids of English walnuts (the most widely sold form of walnuts sold in the US for human consumption) with native Texas Black Walnuts that have better resistance to soil borne pathogens currently impacting the crop.

Why Is Cancer More Common in Men Than in Women? | The Scientist Magazine® - Studying cancer-linked cellular differences between males and females.

Çatalhöyük, Turkey's Stone Age settlement that took the first steps toward city life – Only 4% of the site has been excavated….still a lot to learn.

To build the cities of the future, we must get out of our cars – Letting nature into the core of the city.

A Colonial-Era Cemetery Resurfaces in Philadelphia - The New York Times – Teasing out the history from remains of a cemetery that was supposed to have be moved years ago…but maybe wasn’t entirely.

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 13, 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.

Coconut Spice Cake Recipe | Magnolia Days – The cake I made for my husband’s birthday. It tasted great even without icing!

Photographer Captures Stunning Images of Ice Shards Along Lake Michigan | Smart News | Smithsonian – Spectacular ice forms – made during the breaking up on Lake Michigan a few weeks ago.

Ancient Caribbean children helped with grocery shopping in AD 400 -- ScienceDaily – Snail and clam shells (small ones) might be from child, rather than adult, foragers!

Thousands of Invasive Cane Toads Overtake Florida Community | Smart News | Smithsonian – Ugh! Not something people want in their yards and pools and driveways. These toads have a toxin strong enough to kill cats and dogs that munch on toads and can cause burning eyes or skin irritation in humans.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: March – National Geographic Society – Beautiful birds….changing environments and habitats.

Where Have All the House Sparrows Gone? – Cool Green Science – House sparrow numbers have been declining since 1966 – all around the world!

66-million-year-old deathbed linked to dinosaur-killing meteor -- ScienceDaily – Fossils of animals killed and buried within an hour of the meteor impact!

Pairing Geothermal Plus Rooftop Solar For A Truly Renewable Home | CleanTechnica – At what point will the idea of geothermal heating and cooling catch up with rooftop solar for our homes? Will Dandelion – or comparable companies - become nationwide?

Five new frog species from Madagascar -- ScienceDaily – Some tiny new frogs. The smallest is only a little larger than a grain of rice.

These pictures of seed bank samples turn biology into art – The beauty of seeds. The first photograph (of Australian windflower flower heads is my favorite. The x-ray of a red yucca seed head is also interesting….showing the 3D of the pod in the image.

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 6, 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.

BBC - Future - What happens when we run out of food? – Even in the US, nearly 12% of households re classed as being food insecure; more than 6.5 million children go without adequate food. And the whole food system can be disrupted very easily by war and very bad government all around the world.

Refugee women have healthier pregnancies than US women -- why? An unhealthy US culture: For African refugee women, acculturation may negatively impact health -- ScienceDaily – I was surprised that the researchers did not explore the idea that maybe the value of early pre-natal care is overrated for people that are generally healthy when they get pregnant since the refugee women tended to not start pre-natal care until their 2nd trimester.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Migration – National Geographic Society  - Birds are migrating through our area…we’re seeing more robins…and the juncos will leave soon to go further north. These pictures feature birds from around the world…that are migrating.

Hospital disinfectants should be regulated like antibiotics new study suggests – It’s not just antibiotics that drive antimicrobial resistance…it’s disinfectants (particularly in hospitals) too.

BBC - Future - The unexpected magic of mushrooms – New items made from fungus...replacing some kinds of plastics. It’s good that fungi are so plentiful on the planet – exceeding the biomass of all animals.

An Island Apart – Acadia National Park’s Isle ad Haut. A very different experience from Mount Desert Island

Beautiful cherry blossoms photos – Our cherry tree is in bloom right now. I guess cherry trees are enjoyed around the world very year about this time. There is a picture of the cherry trees around the tidal basin in Washington DC included in the pictures.

Green tea cuts obesity, health risks in mice: Follow-up study in people underway -- ScienceDaily – More research needed…. but I am enjoying green tea already (my favorite is a blend with mint).

Make A Home for Wildlife – Cool Green Science – Some ideas for creating an oasis for wildlife --- it doesn’t take much to help pollinators or birds!

Why did Flamingos flock to Mumbai in record numbers this winter? – 120,000 flamingoes…that’s a lot of birds!

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 9, 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.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: January and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: February and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Feathers and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Forest Birds – From National Geographic. There are multiples this week since I seemed to have a backlog in my gleanings holding area. Enjoy the colorful, graceful images.

'Upcycling' plastic bottles could give them a more useful second life -- ScienceDaily – Now that many countries that used to take our recycle waste have stopped accepting it, we are suddenly facing the problem of what to do with ‘recyclables’ closer to home. Making materials that have higher value is one way to keep more of it from ending up in landfills.

Soundscapes of Arizona’s Aravaipa Canyon – Cool Green Science – Listen to some nature audio…if it’s too cold to get outside and into the wild right now! These would make great backdrops to a meditation practice.

Image of the Day: Prickly Legs | The Scientist Magazine® - Froghoppers gain traction for jumping by piercing plant surfaces with their spiny legs! (Note: froghopper nymphs are spittlebugs!)

Photography in The National Parks: A Winter Shutdown Stay in Olympic National Park – I want to go! This is a national park I haven’t visited.

What kind of bug is a bug? | The Prairie Ecologist – A little entomology lesson.

Alaska in Flux: Slumping Coastlines – A comparison of a coastline between 1992 and 2018 …showing land slumping in to the Beaufort Sea. An airport is closer to the water now than in 1992.There is also a map showing that quite a bit of Alaska is wetter that is was in 1984. Lots of changes in the Alaska land.

Work Underway to Return the Shine to Thomas Jefferson Memorial – The Jefferson Memorial is probably my favorite in DC. I’m glad it’s getting the renovation it needs to look good into the future.

14 keys to a healthy diet | Berkeley Wellness – A little update based on most recent recommendations (for example, dietary cholesterol is not something to worry about since it has little effect on most people’s blood cholesterol).

Infographic: How Ginger Remodels the Microbiome | The Scientist Magazine® - I like ginger and am including it more consistently in my diet. It’s another food to boost gut health!

Gleanings of the Week Ending March 2, 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.

Good News for Eastern Monarch Butterfly Population - The National Wildlife Federation Blog – Now to sustain the improvement into a trend….and stop the decline for the western population.  

Joshua Trees Could Take 200 to 300 Years to Recover from Shutdown Damage | Smart News | Smithsonian – A very sad result of the shutdown.

Physician-targeted marketing is associated with increase in opioid overdose deaths, study shows -- ScienceDaily – Hopefully with the opioid crisis getting more attention…the targeted marketing is reduced or eliminated. The study used data from before 2016. Things have gotten a lot worse since 2016 but maybe there is a lag between prescription opioid use and opioid overdoses.

Rocking Improves Sleep, Boosts Memory | The Scientist Magazine® - A research topic….and maybe a trend in new bed purchases.

America colonization ‘cooled Earth's climate’ - BBC News – More than 50 million people died and close to 56 million hectares (an area the size the France) they had been farming returned to forest. The drop in CO2 is evident in Antarctica ice cores and cooler weather.

The World’s ‘Third Pole’ Will Lose One-Third of Ice by 2100 - Yale E360 – The Himalayas and Hindu Kush mountains are the source of water for nearly 2 billion people. The region has lost 15% of it’s ice since the 1970s. The current estimate is the river flows will increase until 2060 (flooding) but then will decline. There will be more and more bare rock rather than snow covered rock.

Oregon Launches First Statewide Refillable Bottle System in U.S.: The Salt: NPR – It’s starting with beer bottles. Reuse is better than recycle is better than landfill. If given a choice between buying something in glass or plastic…I choose glass.

BBC - Future - The ‘miracle mineral’ the world needs – Phosphorous. Thermic compost piles rather than mineral fertilizers. It’s economical and environmentally a better way.

Top 25 Wild Bird Pictures of the Week – Raptors – As usual – great photographs of birds from around the world.

What happens to the natural world if all the insects disappear? – Big perturbations of food chains. The article ends with a question: If we dispossess them, can we manage the planet without them? It would be a very different planet.

Zooming – February 2019

So many pictures captured with the zoom feature of the camera:

  • The framing of a sunrise so that no post processing is required

  • Birds photographed only because my presence was not detected

  • Documenting an oddity like a unique squirrel tail

  • Plants filling the frame…but the bit of background a blur

I estimate that most of the pictures I take use the zoom on my camera. The advantage of positioning myself at the right angle but not needing to be overly close is not to be underestimated. Before modern lenses, sensors, and autofocus photography was much more challenging. Now it is much more about composition and that is the part I enjoy more than anything else anyway. Being at the right place – and fast enough to use the technology – is the remaining challenge.

Birding through a Window – February 2019

It’s great to see birds from my office window – I take a little break to observe while staying warm…and I get other things done between sightings.

Some kinds of birds I see every day.

2019 01 IMG_4208.jpg

The Blue Jays generally make a lot of noise, so I notice when they are around. They come for the water in the heated bird bath and then for seed if it’s spilled out from the feeder (the feeder itself does not work for jay-sized birds). Somehow, they always seem to be looking in my direction when I take a picture of them.

The Dark-eyed Juncos are also around every day. They come for the seed and, sometimes, the birdbath.

The Northern Cardinal also is a frequent visitor. We have a resident pair that stays around our area. They made their nest in the bushes in front of our house last season. Sometimes more than the pair are around…but not every day.

Mourning Doves are plentiful. One morning we heard one seemingly very close to our breakfast area door but couldn’t see it. My husband opened the door and it flew from it’s hiding place under the deck railing. These birds are also too big for the feeder, but they enjoy any seed on the ground and the bird bath and just sitting around on the deck railing or the roof of the covered deck.

The Tufted Titmouse makes rapid transits between the feeder or birdbath and the red maple. It must feel safer in the maple. We have at least one pair, and maybe more, that frequent our deck.

The Carolina Chickadees are very similar to the titmice in that they don’t linger on the deck. They prefer to get seed and take it back to the maple.

This year we have more American Gold Finches coming to the feeder. In previous years we’ve had more House Finches but I’ve only seen one this year and I didn’t get a picture.

And there are birds I don’t see as frequently.

One American Robin came to the bird bath – and I got a picture. There will be a lot more of them around soon.

2019 01 IMG_4224.jpg
2019 01 IMG_4271.jpg

Sometimes we have Northern Flickers visit – usually as a pair. They like the heated bird bath in very cold weather. The area under the pines appears to be a good place for them to find insects.

The Downy Woodpecker returns again and again to some damaged branches not that far from my window. I’ve seen a male and female…only got pictures of the female this month.

European Starlings are not an everyday occurrence in our yard. There must be better food sources for them elsewhere. That’s probably a good thing.

2019 02 IMG_4566.jpg

We have a White-Breasted Nuthatch that comes to our feeder occasionally. It moves very quickly and goes back to the forest.

2019 02 IMG_4600.jpg

There are birds that I remember seeing but didn’t manage to photograph this month: Red-winged blackbirds, Turkey vultures, Black Vultures, Pileated woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, and House sparrow. Overall – not a bad month for birding through window.

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 23, 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.

BBC - Future - A high-carb diet may explain why Okinawans live so long – I was surprised that sweet potatoes played a significant role in their diet.

Photo of the Week – January 18, 2019 | The Prairie Ecologist – Ice crystals on plants and barbed wire….winter photography.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Birds Using Rivers and Lakes  and Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Parrots (both from the National Geographic Society Newsroom) – I’m doing a bit of catching up on the Top 25 bird posts. I always enjoy these photographic series.

A Mysterious Disease Is Killing Beech Trees | The Scientist Magazine® - Beech Leaf Disease…first spotted in Ohio in 2012 and expanding since then. It appears to be an infectious disease but the causal agent hasn’t been determined and there is no treatment yet. We have a lot of beech trees in Maryland’s forests. We lost the hemlocks and ashes….and years before the chestnuts. Each loss changes the forest.

The microbes that help make you and me and  BBC - What we do and don’t know about gut health and  Is it worth taking probiotics after antibiotics?  and How dirty air could be affecting our gut health and How to eat your way to a healthy gut – A series from BBC- Future. It seems like a lot of people could feel better if we knew more about how to keep (or regain) a healthy gut.

See the microscopic wonders of herbs – Scanning Electron Microscope images of herbs – the beauty of  plants with such distinct smells and flavors.

New wisdom about high cholesterol treatment for adults aged 80 and older -- ScienceDaily – So many of the medical guidelines were developed with trials including younger people…and the assumption was made that it would be the same for older people. But now more people are living past 80 and it’s becoming clearer that it is not always the case.

See what your ZIP code says about you using Esri's ZIP lookup tool - Business Insider – The link is at the bottom of the article. I looked at places I am familiar with and it seemed about right. This would be an interesting tool to use if you were moving to a new area…provide a different perspective to your home search.

The Hidden Environmental Toll of Mining the World’s Sand - Yale E360 – Sand is needed for concrete…and a lot of building going on in the world. The problem of extreme mining in rivers and estuaries is increasing.

BBC - Future - The natural products that could replace plastic – Can any of these happen fast enough to stop – or even reduce - the flow of plastics into our rivers and oceans and landfills?

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 16, 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.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Mountain Birds – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Starting off the gleanings this week with bird pics!

BBC - Future - The perils of short-termism: Civilization’s greatest threat – It is very difficult for individuals and groups of humans to think strategically. And maybe since we are now quite capable of catastrophically destroying civilization (atomic bombs and climate change are the two most probable) – we need to make strategic thinking a higher priority.

Could Spider Silk Become a Natural Replacement for Plastic? – Cool Green Science – It is still very far from the goal – mass production cheaply. But it is hot material science topic.

Report: Americans Are Now More Likely to Die of An Opioid Overdose Than on The Road: NPR – Gives another take on the magnitude of the opioid deaths.

Not One, Not Two, But Three Fungi Present in Lichen | The Scientist Magazine® - For a long time the textbooks used lichen to exemplify symbiosis of a lichen and a fungus. It’s more complicated than that….and it’s a good example of how science is refined over time to improve our understanding.

BBC - Future - Why it pays to declutter your digital life – Getting rid of stuff needs to be about more than the physical junk we accumulate…we now have email and photos…all kinds of digital media stored and rarely – or never – used. It’s clutter. And it might need different strategies to declutter.

Central Texas salamanders, including newly identified species, at risk of extinction -- ScienceDaily – It seems like I’m seeing several stories like this recently – a newly identified species that is already almost gone. Depressing.

Elevated Nitrate Levels Found in Millions of Americans’ Drinking Water - Yale E360 – I don’t like articles like this because they point to a situation that has negative consequences…then doesn’t have anything that individuals can do to reduce the risk. It’s very frustrating.

Flowers Sweeten Up When They Sense Bees Buzzing | Smart News | Smithsonian – Flowers increase sugar content by 12-20% within 3 minutes of hearing a bee’s buzz.

Food is medicine: How US policy is shifting toward nutrition for better health – Glad this idea is getting more attention. We’ve been way to gullible to think that medications can overcome poor day-to-day dietary habits. I hope the 2018 Farm Bill and the “Food is Medicine” working group in the House are good ‘first steps’ to change the way we think about what we eat.  

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 09, 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.

Neandertal slaughters · john hawks weblog – Analysis of 5 sites indicates that Neandertals were excellent tacticians, casual executioners, and discerning diners.

Rare Gemstone Hidden in Ancient Teeth Reveals a Surprising Truth About Medieval Women – Lapis Lazuli found in the remains of a middle aged woman’s teeth and jaw. She was buried in an all-female monastery in Germany sometime around 1000-1200 CE. The researchers concluded that she most likely was painting with the pigment (licking the end of the brush while painting) creating manuscripts.

More solutions needed for campus hunger – A new report states that 9-50% of America’s college students face food insecurity…and that does not include graduate students. There are some programs that could help but often the students are not aware of them…and there may be enough stigma attached to them that students shy away. These are young adults that need adequate nutrition to continue their schooling and growth into adulthood.

Image of the Day: What We've Dumped | The Scientist Magazine® - Yuck! Stuff that washed up on 12 shoreline sites on barrier island along the US Gulf Coast…and it’s all stuff that people put in the water.

Two billion birds migrate over Gulf Coast -- ScienceDaily – Combining eBird observational data helps translate radar data into estimates of bird numbers. The peak time was April 18-May 7. The highest activity is over the west Texas Gulf Coast (Corpus Christi to Brownsville).

US Cancer Death Rate Dropped for 25 Years Starting in 1991 | The Scientist Magazine® - Down 25% over 27 years…a positive trend.  But there are still issues of race and socioeconomic inequality when it comes to prevention and treatment. The trend is not good for obesity related cancers; they are on the rise.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: December – National Geographic Society Newsroom – I always like bird pictures.

Natural Disasters Caused $160 Billion in Damage in 2018 - Yale E360 – It did seem like there were a lot of disasters last year: fires in California, Hurricanes Michael and Florence…and that’s just the ones in the US.

Medical marketing has skyrocketed in the past two decades, while oversight remains limited -- ScienceDaily – I have been suspicious of medical marketing (particularly ads on television) for some time. The study seems to show that state and federal regulators are overwhelmed.

Image of the Day: Geckos on the Run | The Scientist Magazine® - It must take a lot of energy for the gecko…but it can indeed run across the surface of the water.

Three Kinds of Woodpeckers

The third day of the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival got off to an early start – on a bus at 5 AM heading to the rural area in central Florida for a day of birding (about 50 miles south of Orland). We arrived at our first stop in Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area just before sunrise and hiked into the longleaf pine forest.

Our guides took us off the trail and through the palmettos and other vegetation growing between the pines – and pointed out the woodpecker holes in the pines. We stood and watched the holes.

2019 01 IMG_2690.jpg

Sure enough just as the day brightened a little – a red-cockaded woodpecker appeared in one of the longleaf pines (the only tree they use for nesting).

2019 01 IMG_2703.jpg

The bird flew out to neighboring pines in search of breakfast. I never saw a red-cockade…but read that they are difficult to see in the field.

The long leaf pines are not as numerous as they once were. They don’t grow in dense stands so are not as commercially viable as other pines in the south. But they are a boon to wildlife and are resistant to wildfire.

As we walked back toward the bus we saw a brown-headed nuthatch – another bird of the longleaf pine forest (which I didn’t manage to get a picture of) and our second woodpecker of the day. I saw the typical holes first – the work of a yellow-bellied sapsucker.

2019 01 IMG_2739.jpg

Soon we saw the birds themselves. They too were after breakfast.

Further down the country road we stopped at a stand of trees with some snags…and saw red-headed woodpeckers almost immediately. A lot of woodpeckers have red on their heads – but the name is reserved for this one. The head is red all over!

What a thrill to see three kinds of woodpeckers in one day of birding!

Gleanings of the Week Ending February 02, 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.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Camouflage – Lots of birds can hide in plain sight! Owls are the ones I think of first in this category.

When 'alien' insects attack Antarctica: Terrestrial ecosystems are vulnerable to single introduced insect species -- ScienceDaily – A threat from a tiny flightless midge

Anak Krakatau: Planet Labs imagery of the aftermath of the landslide - The Landslide Blog - AGU Blogosphere – Imagery of the landslide that caused the deadly tsunami just before last Christmas.

What is the most commonly found ocean litter? – Yuck! Another reason that cigarettes are a bad thing.

A series of posts from NOAA’s 2018 Arctic Report Card: Visual highlights , Multi-year stretch of record and near-record warmth unlike any period on record, Reindeer and caribou populations continue to decline, Less than 1 percent of Arctic ice has survived four or more summers, Red tides and other toxic species expanding across the Arctic, increasing risks to marine mammals and humans – Quantifying the changes occurring in the arctic

Image of the Day: In Sync | The Scientist Magazine® - Infants playing with their parents…syncing of brain activity

New Ultima Thule discoveries from NASA's New Horizons -- ScienceDaily – A space mission to something we’ve never seen before….the aptly named ‘New Horizons’

Why are biology classes ignoring insects? · john hawks weblog – When I was in high school, insects were a big deal for biology classes; many students created an insect collect the summer prior to the biology year. I don’t remember too much about insects in my first courses as an undergraduate in biology I the 1970s…but there was probably more coverage than in the more recent textbooks.

Keeping fit: how to do the right exercise for your age – A good summary…although the key message is to keep moving…sustained exercise is the best strategy.

Our bodies may cure themselves of diabetes in the future -- ScienceDaily – It’s at the basic research level…but could be an approach to ‘diseases’ caused by cell death in the future (diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cells damaged by heart attacks, etc.)

Gleanings of the Week Ending January 5, 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.

Ambitious VR Experience Restores 7,000 Roman Buildings, Monuments to Their Former Glory | Smart News | Smithsonian – Is this the way we’ll experience buildings that are ‘lost’ in the future?

Most Top Burger Chains Flunk Fast Food Antibiotics Scorecard | NRDC – We don’t often go to burger chains any more. After this report – maybe the best choice would get chicken rather than beef.

Hundreds of Supplements Spiked with Pharmaceuticals | The Scientist Magazine® - Not good at all. The pharmaceuticals are undisclosed and some of the pharmaceuticals are those that have been withdrawn or were never approved. Advice: use single-ingredient supplements…and not buy supplements that are riding a fad.

7 surprising ways your body changes with age | Berkeley Wellness – I’ve noticed my feet are wider based on the way shoes fit. The others might be harder to see since they happen so slowly.

Twenty-Five Useful Thinking Tools | Scott H Young – Describing thinking tools my using professions where they appear to dominate. I hope that all the professions use multiple tools in their day to day work…even if there is one that is used most frequently.

Your guide to enjoying winter birds – It’s been so wet this year that we don’t have birds coming to our heated bird bath like we did last year. I put the bird feeder up a few days ago. Maybe we’ll start seeing more visitors.

Scientists Find Large Amounts of Methane Being Released from Icelandic Glacier - Yale E360 – A previous unknown source of methane…glaciers that are melting and happen to be covering active volcanoes and geothermal systems are probably all releasing methane. The gas is produced by microbial activity. This extra methane is not factored into current climate change models.

The Best of 2018 from the Prairie Ecologist (part 1) (part 2) – Lots of great prairie pictures.

New butterfly named for pioneering 17th-century entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian -- ScienceDaily – I enjoyed here books on Internet Archive in 2018 (find them here).

Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’ – History backed up with ice core data.

YE Thinking: Favorite Images

Looking for a way to summarize my year in pictures for this last post of 2019, I selected 3 favorite photos from each month – not an easy task for me. Many of them are from at home…some from other places close to home…then Socorro NM and Carrolton Tx. It’s been a good year! Enjoy the slide show….celebrating 2018!