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!

Festival of the Cranes – part 4

Our first day at the Festival ended with a program about owls and then going out into the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge to look for owls along the wildlife loop. Our guides managed to help us see three species: western screech owl, great horned owl, and barn owl. I didn’t take any pictures and am waiting on my husband to process his to (maybe) write a post about the experience. The barn owls in flight over the field (beside the road where we were standing) were the high point of the evening.

I was glad our field trip for the next day was not an early morning. We got to Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in plenty of time for our 8AM start. There were screwbean mesquites growing near the entrance of the visitor center. For some reason, I had not noticed this type of mesquite before; the seeds are quite different from the mesquites I grew up with in Texas!

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The field trip was to a part of the refuge not open to the public. It turns out that the majority of Sevilleta is used for research. There is no wild life loop road and the part we would see during the field trip is not directly connected to the parcel that has the visitor center and refuge headquarters. The field trip group headed out in three refuge vehicles – down a highway and across some private land. As soon as we went through the gate to the refuge land the increase in vegetation was obvious. It’s still a dry place.

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Horned larks flew up along the road as our vehicles proceeded down the road. There was a solanum species with their tiny fruits.

Someone with sharp eyes spotted oryx (gemsbok) in the distance. They were imported from Africa to White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico and their numbers have been growing in New Mexico (they escaped the missile range). Their numbers seem to be stable on the refuge.

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We stopped to hike through a small canyon where sandstone that contains underground water abuts harder rock – forcing water to the surface – until the harder rock ends and the water goes underground again. I managed an identification-level picture of a Townsend’s Solitaire. There was a thin layer of ice on the water. The water was trickling through underneath.

Along the road, we stopped for birds. Most of the time I just got to see them through binoculars. I managed to get a picture of the Mountain Bluebirds

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And several of a Loggerhead Shrike – one with prey. Later in the field trip as we drove along the barbed wire fence, we saw desiccated insects pinned to the barbs by shrikes.

A little further along there was a Canyon Towhee in the top of a cholla.

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I couldn’t resist photographing the cholla!

A herd of pronghorn were just white rumps running away at first but then they turned and raced the vehicles. They would turn and cross the road in front of the caravan – forcing it to slow or stop until they crossed. Then they would run beside us on that side of the road before they crossed again. It seemed to be a game and only the pronghorn knew the rules. We all wondered whether it was the youngest in the group that decided to run…the dominant male was usually close to the back of the group!

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We stopped at another canyon for another hike. It was drier although during the monsoons there would be water flowing.

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The refuge staff has converted older style drinkers which worked for deer to shallow pools to work for other animals as well. The water pump is powered by a solar panel and there is a camera to document visitors.

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We returned to the visitor center a little before 4. It was the only day of the festival that I got my 12,000 steps!

Gleanings of the Week Ending October 20, 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.

Tracking exploding ice cracks on Himalayan glaciers - GeoSpace - AGU Blogosphere – Research about the seismic noise of glaciers.

Researchers have discovered how to slow aging: Natural product found to reduce the level of damaged cells in the body, caused by aging -- ScienceDaily – I never know what to think of these early findings…but the logical take away from this one is eat fruits and veggies since that is the source for Fisetin. But – that’s been dietary guidance for a long time.

Belly Fat Has a Role to Play in Fighting Infections | The Scientist Magazine® - Research is yielding some functions of the omentum…but there is still a lot to discover about the role this organ plays in the body.

Recovery: Prairies Under the Sea – Cool Green Science – Eel grass recovery…a success story close to where I live. The success with sea grass restoration in Tampa Bay faced a setback with this year’s red-tide blooms.

Keep your salad greens safe | Berkeley Wellness – I agree with everything except the ‘bag them’ since I am trying not to get any plastic bags at all. I take a bin with me to the grocery store for wet items and use mesh or paper bags for the dry items. And make sure the meats are in a separate bag from my produce at the checkout.

Voyager 2 Detects Hints That Interstellar Space Is Nearby – Launched in 1977, Voyager 2 is getting closer and closer to leaving the solar system.

The Mystery of the Dying Mesquites – Cool Green Science – Unappreciated trees – dying away – and finally noticed. Too late to be saved?

Decades of Trash Burst Out of Yellowstone Geyser | Smart News | Smithsonian – Yuck! Hopefully we are better now at keeping trash out of the geysers.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Birds Feeding – National Geographic Blog – So much to like about birds….in every aspect of their lives.

Hurricane Michael Flooding Damage Assessment Images – From NOAA. Use the sliders on the images to look images before and after the Hurricane.

Rancho Lomitas

After Las Estellas, the field trip group headed to Rancho Lomitas where Benito Trevino shared his knowledge of plants of the Tamaulipan thorn scrub. We learned about how cochineal became a valued commodity to the Spaniards. It is an insect that grows on prickly pear cactus (white mounds) and is used to produce carmine dye. Until the advent of synthetic dyes and pigments it was the best ‘red.’

Also the desert Christmas cholla’s berries can be used to sooth a sore throat….if one knows the process to remove the small thorns. First, use a stick to know off berries. Use the stick to separate the berries from the green part of the plant. Use a bunch of grass to move the berries around in the pebbles and dust. When the thorns appear to be gone…do it some more. I tried some. It tastes a little citrusy and would sooth the throat similarly to honey.

It was a mostly cloudy and cool day but the sun came out for a little while and we saw some butterflies.

There is a road runner that patrols the gardens.

We were walking along the road back to our van when Benito spotted a trap door spider and gently opened it with his knife; I would not have spotted it on my own!

A culinary treat for dessert after our lunch – some cookies made with mesquite floor. Maryland does not have mesquite trees but maybe I can find some if I visit my family in Texas at the right time!