Gleanings of the Week Ending July 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.

We organized a conference for 570 people without using plastic. Here’s how it went – It’s hard to do anything without plastic….but we’ll find ways eventually. I am focused on the ‘single use’ items first but when I can I choose materials other than plastic even for more durable items.

Arches National Park Recognized As "Dark Sky" Park – Now for my husband to find a way to get there with his telescope….

Timber Rattlesnakes: Cool Facts and an Uncertain Future – This snake is found in western Maryland….not in the county where I live. But we always mention it to students interested in snakes. This article provided some additional ‘cool facts’ to pass along.

Macro Photos of Water Droplets Reveal the Overlooked Beauty of Nature – Beautiful images in water droplets - And the artist included some pictures of the set up he uses to get the pictures!

In an Era of Extreme Weather, Concerns Grow Over Dam Safety – There have been dams in the news in recent years (like the Oroville Dam spillway failure in 2017). In our area, some small dams have been removed. But there are 91,000 dams in the US that are aging and need repairs. It’s going to be expensive…and the extreme weather we’ve been having probably makes it more urgent…but the funding is just not forthcoming so far.

Chiggers are the worst – Agreed.

Photo of the Week – July 5, 2019 – Milkweed in bloom. This is a blog post from The Prairie Ecologist…showing some bugs too. No Monarch butterflies though.

8 ways wild animals beat the heat – The mucous that hippos secrete was new to me…it’s acts as sunscreen, antibiotic, moisturizer, and water repellant. Now that we’ve learned that the sunscreen we’ve been using may be toxic to corals (and maybe to us too), perhaps we could develop an alternative by learning more about the hippo mucous.

Winter Bee Declines Greatest in 13 Years: Survey – Habitat loss, pesticides, Varroa mites….it adds up. Evidently in recent years the strategies that beekeepers have been using to deter mites have not worked as well. Some crops rely more on commercial beekeepers than others. Almonds, cherries, and blueberries are mentioned as examples.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Flowers – Last but not least this week…..birds and flowers. Enjoy the photographs.

Ten Little Celebrations – June 2019

There was a lot going on in June – the last of the spring field trip season with Howard County Conservancy, the Wings of Fancy shifts, helping my daughter move from Pennsylvania to Missouri….and there were a lot of little celebrations along the way.

IMG_4509.jpg

Springfield Art Museum – The first visit to a museum is always the best…because everything is new. This one was no exception….and it was free!

20190603_100414.jpg

Luna moth – Finding a Luna Moth at a rest stop in Missouri was the high point of a long day of driving toward home. I celebrated that it was there….and that it was a pleasant surprise in an unexpected place.

First week of CSA – I am always thrilled to get the fresh produce from the Gorman Farm Community Supported Agriculture. Every meal I prepare with the CSA veggies is a celebration.

2019 06 IMG_4708.jpg

Frogs at Mt Pleasant – Finding the frogs in the small pond is like working a puzzle…you look carefully and finally see….and celebrate. I celebrated along with my hiking groups of elementary aged students too.

Perfect field trip weather at Belmont – I was braced for June field trips to be overly hot…but the weather for all of them at Belmont was near perfect. The pre-schoolers at Belmont celebrated being outdoors and I did too.

My summer office – I moved my home office to a room that doesn’t get direct sun in the afternoon (so doesn’t heat up) and celebrated that the new location provided a better vantage point to the bird feeder while I am working at my computer.

Kombucha – My new food find of the month was mint lemonade kombucha from Wegmans. I didn’t drink the whole bottle all at once…wanted to savor it so I had about 1/3 each day for 3 days. Yummy! I might not get it every week…maybe only for a celebration.

1st monarch butterfly and caterpillar sighting of the year – I celebrated a Monarch butterfly on some milkweed at Brookside Gardens and then a Monarch caterpillar on another milkweed nearby. It’s always a milestone for the butterflies to make it Maryland and start laying eggs. The milkweed is blooming and sweet…plenty of food for the caterpillars.

20190618_125605.jpg

1st Zentangle® class is history – I celebrated leading my first Zentangle class…and the tiles created by the students.

Fledglings – I celebrated seeing several fledglings come to our birdfeeder over the past few weeks: downy woodpecker, titmouse, Carolina chickadee, and catbird. Our maple tree seems to be a popular place for many of these birds….or maybe they just come through that tree from the forest and return to the forest the same way.

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 29, 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.

Porcupines | National Geographic – I was disappointed that they didn’t include more pictures of the North American Porcupine. I’ve never seen one in the wild.

BBC - Future - How to build something that lasts 10,000 years – Specifically – this post is about building a clock that will last for 10,000 years…in West Texas!

Researchers uncover indoor pollution hazards -- ScienceDaily – Some surprises: pollutants change with temperature inside the house….and time of day makes a difference. Formaldehyde seems to be particularly prevalent. These studies are scary for existing homes. We need work on mitigations that homeowners can implement…and new construction that reduces the source of pollutants.

Infographic: Immunity Isn't the Body's Only Defense System | The Scientist Magazine® - Symbiotic bacteria, metabolism and pathogen mutation examples overlay the immunity strategy. As we learn more, we realize that the human body is more complex that we realized.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Blue – National Geographic Society Newsroom – So many blue birds!

Tortoises rule on Aldabra Atoll – Tortoises making their way through the huts where people bunked! The tortoises sleep with head and legs stretched out…no predators to fear on the inhospitable atoll.

Past climate change pushed birds from the northern hemisphere to the tropics -- ScienceDaily – Thought provoking. I wondered if some of the birds that now migrate from North America to Central or South America for the winter….will not go as far or will shift their range northward.  I suppose it would work if their food sources shifted and the birds followed the food. The synchrony of plants blooming and seeds ripening….of horseshoe crabs laying eggs…all while birds are migrating or getting ready to produce young; it’s not a simple system.

Making STEM Education More Welcoming to Underrepresented Minorities | The Scientist Magazine® - Education doesn’t happen in a vacuum that has well defined boundaries. We must do more than just academic support…I’m glad there is more research and conversation on how to move forward in tangible ways to make STEM education and careers more open to everyone.

An Ancient Asteroid Crater May Be Hiding Off Scotland’s Coast | Smart News | Smithsonian – Some recent work that points to a crater of a asteroid from 1.2 billion years ago.

Three Studies Track People's Microbiomes Through Health and Disease | The Scientist Magazine® - Interesting…but they could just be expensive association studies (a quote from the end of the paper). At some point, maybe the findings will lead to something that benefits the patient.

Zooming – June 2019

So many aspects of nature to photograph in June: flowers and butterflies, frogs and birds…bunnies.

There were photos around home or close to home…and then in Missouri and Ohio. I’ll be learning the route between home and Missouri with two more trips in July…I’ll see how different the places look a month later.

There’s beauty to be found all over if we take the time to look for it!

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 22, 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.

The royal tombs of Ur reveal Mesopotamia's ancient splendor – From National Geographic - Leonard Woolley’s excavation of Ur in the 1920s.

Astronomers Worry New SpaceX Satellite Constellation Could Impact Research | Smart News | Smithsonian – Are telescopes on the surface of the earth doomed? Will we only be able to study the universe from space?

Americans May Be Ingesting Thousands of Microplastics Every Year | Smart News | Smithsonian and Hawaii’s newest black sand beach already contains plastic pollution – Plastics everywhere...and there is growing evidence that it is negatively impacting life on our planet. What are we doing about it?

Image of the Day: Hot Stripes | The Scientist Magazine® - Did you know that zebras can raise the black stripes separately from the white stripes!

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Communication – National Geographic Society – Birds…never can resist including a wild bird photo collections.

BBC - Future - How modern life is transforming the human skeleton – The way we live – written in our bones.

New Jersey 100% Renewable Energy Plan -- More Fiber, Less Fluff | CleanTechnica – Hurray for New Jersey….having a tangible plan to use zero carbon energy by 2050.

Eliminating packaging is a good start – but here's what supermarkets should do to stop harming the planet – I’ve made it a point to reduce the amount of packaging when I shop; I am way past the easy things…and up against the way groceries operate in my area. I buy local produce through my CSA for 5 months of the year (a good way to eliminate packaging, eat seasonally, and reduce food transportation costs) but the other 7 months of the year, I’m back to the typical grocery store for produce.

How old are your organs?  -- ScienceDaily - To scientists' surprise, organs are a mix of young and old cells: Scientists discover cellular structures with extreme longevity, leading to insights for age-associated diseases.

Tropical Cyclones are Stalling More – Hurricane Harvey (Texas)….Tropical storm Fay (Florida)…Hurricane Florence (North Carolina) – All three storms caused a lot of damage to the coasts when they lingered over the coastal area becoming prolific rain producers. Is this the new normal for Atlantic Hurricanes?

Gleanings of the Week Ending June 1, 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.

Flu virus' best friend: Low humidity -- ScienceDaily – Yet another reason to have a good humidifier in our homes during the winter.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Seabirds – National Geographic Society Newsroom – I saw a few of these during the Cape May trip in May: American Oystercatcher, Northern Gannett, Laughing Gull, and Forster’s Tern.

Novel 5-minute workout improves blood pressure, may boost brain function -- ScienceDaily – Preliminary results….have to wait to see if it holds up. It would be great to have another option than medication (that often has side effects).

More Megalithic Jars Mapped in Laos and A Singular Landscape - Archaeology Magazine – Plain of Jars in Laos. The jars were created 1,500 to 2,500 years ago. Excavations are revealing a bit more about the people that created them.

Common food additive found to affect gut microbiota: Titanium dioxide nanoparticles E171 may impact human health -- ScienceDaily – It’s a whitening agent used in foods and medicines in high quantities. I checked the jar of mayonnaise in my refrigerator and it didn’t list it on the ingredients list but evidently some brands do contain titanium dioxide. Maybe I will cut back on the mayo.

Solar System and Beyond Poster Set | NASA Solar System Exploration - Beautiful posters suitable for printing in 11x17 format.

Ancient Egyptians Enjoyed Sweet Watermelons - Archaeology Magazine – All melons in ancient Africa were not the bitter cucurbitacins found wild in Africa today!

Walnuts may help lower blood pressure for those at risk of heart disease -- ScienceDaily – Walnuts are tasty too.

The Bird Conservation Program You’ve Never Heard Of (And the Birds It Saves) – Cool Green Science – Going beyond the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to improve neotropical habitat the birds require during their annual migrations.

Escaped pet parrots are now naturalized in 23 US states, study finds -- ScienceDaily – 25 species! They are not native to North America, but many are thriving, and those populations become critical to the survival of their species.

Gleanings of the Week Ending May 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.