Gleanings of the Week Ending August 10, 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: Green – National Geographic Society Newsroom – Starting off the gleanings list with birds this week – green ones.

Indigenous Maize: Who Owns the Rights to Mexico’s ‘Wonder’ Plant? - Yale E360 – The nitrogen fixing maize --- farmed in Mexico – but who will profit if the trait is replicated in corn to feed the rest of the world.

Vast majority of dietary supplements don't improve heart health or put off death, study finds -- ScienceDaily – Massive analysis…277 clinical trials. The supplement industry is large and advertises; how do studies like this counteract that even if the supplement in many cases is having only a placebo effect.

Brothers Use Drone to Reveal Beauty of Ordinary Objects – Art of objects seen from above.

Making HVAC heat exchangers five times better -- ScienceDaily – We’re going to need all the innovation we can muster to get air conditioning more efficient…and power it with renewable energy.

BBC - Future - Do we need to walk 10,000 steps a day? – Hint – 10,000 is not a magic number at all. I’ve had my goal set at 12,000 steps for quite some time. I make it when I am home but am usually challenged when traveling.

Toyota plans to launch its first full EVs, in a deal with China’s BYD - MIT Technology Review – I hope by the time I get ready to replace my Prius Prime there are a lot of EVs to choose from!

What it Means to Design with Nature in 2019 - News | Planetizen – Is this the thinking of all design going forward?

A Fungus Is Now Infecting Humans & Global Warming May Be to Blame | CleanTechnica – Candida auris started showing up in humans in 2009 and it is multiple drug resistant already. New research is indicating that the fungus might have adapted to warmer temperatures until it can now multiply in the human body…which it couldn’t before.

Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S. – Lots of changes in the time period between 1945 and 2014.The article includes a color-coded map. It will be interesting to see if the trends continue over the next decade

Smartphone Nature Photography – part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post….

Identification. Sometimes I take a lot of photos so I can identify something later. This was the case with these caterpillars. They were devouring dogwood plants at Brookside Gardens last summer. They remind me of lemon bars (yellow custard underneath powdered sugar). I defaulted to thinking they were a moth or butterfly larvae…but they turned out to be a dogwood sawfly larvae!

Stories. Some pictures tell a story. If you are aware at the time…make sure you take the pictures of the whole story. This Achemon Sphinx Moth was discovered by summer campers going out between rain showers during a nature photography activity. Moths are more active at night and usually are hiding in foliage during the day. This one was on the ground and twitching. I knew from experience in the Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy exhibit that it had probably been bitten by a spider. We took our pictures and left it where it was. I regret that I was too busy helping campers to keep my camera at the ready to shoot the moth being pulled between two rocks – presumably by the spider that never did make itself visible.

20180724_112642.jpg

Insects. Insects can be very fast moving and difficult to photograph no matter what camera you have. They often are slow or immobile when it is cooler. Cool mornings are good to find cicadas – silent and still…but maybe not dead. Butterflies can be under leaves roosting if it’s cool…or it is dusk and they are seeking a place to spend the night. Then there are masses of milkweed bugs that are prevalent in the fall. They are moving but there are so many that it’s easy enough to get a good number; I always try to figure out how many instars are shown in the same picture.

And sometimes it is just luck. This blue morpho sat on my wrist while I was at the exit of last summer’s butterfly exhibit at Brookside Gardens. I had my phone on the lanyard so was able to pull it out and one-hand the phone to take the picture.

20180813_093825.jpg

Specimens. There are nature photography shots that might be of specimens rather than out in the field. The shot of the blue morpho wing was from a specimen that had died using the 15x macro lens. I’ll try the 60x next summer. I included the label in the picture of the dogwood tree cookie…for documentation; I liked the irregularity of the rings.

Wet day color. Sometimes a rainy-day hike is a good thing. The color of fungus is often more intense on these days – and the phone handles the raindrops better than more traditional cameras.

Light. Sometimes an image is made by something special about the light – spotlighted ferns, the shadowing of a sectioned Nautilus shell, a sunrise.

Clipping. Because the camera only has a digital zoom, I often take the picture without zooming then make a clip after I get home. In the example below – the two butterflies (tiger swallowtail and male monarch) are clearly identifiable even though the clip has a painterly look.

So – go out and take some pictures! The only blooms we have outdoors right now are the witch hazels. There are other winter opportunities too: tracks in the snow (or mud), seed pods, snow landscapes, and ice crystals. And maybe a squirrel will be close enough and still enough….

Gleanings of the Week Ending November 10, 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.

Uncapped Wells Have Been Leaking Oil into the Gulf of Mexico for 14 Years - Yale E360 – Why can’t the oil companies do a better job of preventing leaks…or, at least, stopping leaks if they occur? Don’t they have the technology to address this issue?

With Shorter Winters, Plants Bloom Early and Die Young – National Geographic – Green springs…but the plants don’t sustain the green through the drier summers. Not good for our yards and our farms…and us.

Photo of the Week – October 19, 2018 – The Prairie Ecologist – Fluffy seeds from the prairie…including common milkweed,

Image of the Day: Clubbing | The Scientist Magazine® - Peacock Mantis Shrimp have a spring-like structure that enables them to beat the life out of their prey.

Beautifully Painted Shrine Emerges from the Ashes of Pompeii | Smart News | Smithsonian – Much of Pompeii that we know from tourist books was excavated before modern methods…and sometimes ‘restored’ in a way that we don’t know exactly what it looked like when originally uncovered. New excavation can provide clues about older excavations as well as the particulars of the newly uncovered walls.

Substantial changes in air pollution across China during 2015 to 2017 -- ScienceDaily – Particulates are down but ozone is up….so good and bad trends.

BBC - Future - The flu that transformed the 20th Century – The 1918 flu epidemic…100 years ago this year. There is still research on the virus and what happened…some surprises in the findings.

This Humongous Fungus Is as Massive as Three Blue Whales | Smart News | Smithsonian – 91 acres, 110 tons, and about 1,500 years old. And this is not the biggest one discovered…it was the first that was well documented.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Black plumage – National Geographic – I always like to include birds in my gleanings. I was surprised that there were no crows or ravens or starlings in this collection of birds with black plumage.

The Winners of the 2018 Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest Are Out of This World – Three are some pictures from the 2017 solar eclipse in this collection.

A few minutes observing…a tree stump

During one of the training sessions for the Howard County Conservancy’s fall field trips, we stopped briefly near the chicken coop to talk about topics for the kindergarten and 1st grade hikes. There is a stump in the area that used to be mostly surrounded by other plants…hard to get close enough to look at closely. Now it is clear all around it and it’s possible to approach in from all sides.  It’s been decomposing long enough to have several examples of fungus that were enjoying the recent wet weather to grow rapidly. As I listened to the conversation around me – I spent a few minutes photographing parts of the stump.

20180912_105709.jpg

A flat fungus with tiny water droplets – with the clip-on macro lens.

20180912_105908.jpg

A jelly fungus that seemed to glow (also with the clip-on macro).

And a picture with and without the macro lens that was a fungus that reminded me of mineral deposits in caves!

Sometimes pictures I take very quickly when I am rushed are ones I only take time to enjoy later…once I am home and have time to really look.