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.

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!

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!

Macro Petals and Leaf

The last hurrah of some flowers I bought over the holiday was after it was spent – just before the stems and petals and greenery went to the compost bin. I experimented with my macro lens clipped to my cell phone – particularly the 60x one.

2019 01 macro lens 60x.jpg

After some trial and error, I discovered that putting the specimen (a petal or a leaf) on a window provided good backlight and I could easily stabilize the lens too. I zoomed a little – just enough to take away the vignetting around the edges.

The petals looked almost white to the eye, but subtle colors of the veins and cell walls came out at the higher magnification. The petals were desiccated and fragile. Some cracked as I held them. Fortunately, there were plenty more to try. 

In general, I like the lower magnification macro (15x) better than this lens…but the 60x was great for this project.

Zooming – December 2018

It’s been somewhat cold this month – but no snow yet. I’ve enjoyed photographing our transition to winter using the zoom on my camera to set the frame of the scene and/or to enable me to stay out of the mud (we’ve had lots of rain) or indoors and warm. There is still a little green left…and the sky sometimes seems brighter when its clear and cold. Enjoy the December 2018 Zoom slideshow!

Mt. Pleasant Nature Photography on a Rainy Day

This is the week I do nature photography with summer campers at Howard County Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant and Belmont. The photography day at Mt. Pleasant was very rainy. It was the first time the weather kept us from the hiking/photo shoot. I cut some lower hanging branches from the sycamore in my yard and we used them for photography and to study the size variation…and the holes in the leaves. All three groups of campers (grouped by ages 5-12) did something with the leaves.


There were a few critters that we found on the covered porch of the nature center: a daddy-long-legs that become very interested in the pile of sycamore leaves,

A slug on a log that had come in from the floor of the nearby forest, and a house centipede that seemed to be just escaping the rain. All three critters stayed around for the 3 hours we were working.

I got some other things out from the storeroom: snake skin, antlers, skulls, honey comb, a nautilus shell, pelts from a racoon an fox.

One of the most popular items was a talon from a red shouldered hawk.


I had my clip on macro lens for campers that were using cell phone cameras. The tattered butterfly wings were popular objects for that experimentation.

The very last group was the luckiest of all because it stopped raining for a little while and we went out into the Honors garden a few steps from the porch. The campers took pictures of flowers and

An Achemon Sphinx moth that was wet and twitching on the ground near one of the flower beds – probably after being bitten by a spider.


I had a few minutes between groups and was thrilled when a couple of hummingbirds braved the sprinkles of rain and came to the feeder!

2018 07 IMG_2181.jpg

I would rather have hiked with the campers…but we managed a ‘next best’ on a rainy day in Maryland.

Gleanings of the Week Ending July 21, 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.

Some visual feasts: Peep the Stunning Winners of the Audubon Society’s Photo Contest | Smart News | Smithsonian and National Park Service Releases Iconic Paintings of Parks and Stunning Drone Photos of Venice Show Unique View of the City  and Winners of the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year  – Starting out the gleanings list this week with images!

Fossil Fuels Account for Lowest Share of U.S. Energy Consumption in More than a Century - Yale E360 – Hurray for some positive news about trends and the environment…but there is still a tremendous effort needed to shift toward a sustainable future for our planet.

Air pollution contributes significantly to diabetes globally: Even low pollution levels can pose health risk -- ScienceDaily – Clean air is something every living thing needs for a healthy life – even humans.

New Website Unearths Amsterdam’s History Via 700,000 Artifacts Spanning 5,000 Years | Smart News | Smithsonian – If you can’t travel…there are lots of ways to look artifacts via the web. This is one of them and includes bits and pieces of just about everything.

Rivers and Streams Compose Much More of Earth’s Surface Than Thought | The Scientist Magazine® - The results of a study using NASA’s Landsat images.

BBC - Future - How your age affects your appetite – Food is fuel…and a social/cultural experience. How well does your experience of food link with your age?

Net-zero emissions energy systems | Science – A scholarly article about what it will take to achieve net-zero emissions…what existing technologies can do and what still needs a lot of development.

Germany’s "Stonehenge" Reveals Evidence of Human Sacrifice | Smart News | Smithsonian – Maybe Neolithic circles were more common that originally thought and they weren’t always made of stone. This one was wood and was torn down about 2050 BCE.

Opinion: Rise of the Robot Radiologists | The Scientist Magazine® - A white color job that might give way to artificial intelligence…soon. If it does – will it help slow the rise of medical costs?

Mummification Workshop Excavated in Egypt - Archaeology Magazine and Mummification Workshop and Trove of Burial Relics Found in Egypt | Smart News | Smithsonian – Two sources for the same story…different perspectives/details.

Gleanings of the Week Ending October 14, 2017

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 #107 – National Geographic Society (blogs) and #108 – kestrels and hummingbirds and kingfishers…oh my!

What Skills Will You Need to Be Employable in 2030? – It’s hard to predict the direction of technology…but we know that some types of jobs are easier for machines to do than others. What is left that humans will need to do?

13 Ways to Cut Cancer Risk | Berkeley Wellness – Hopefully none of these are new…they have all be publicized before but maybe not in a consolidated list.

Century-old cactus used for target practice in Saguaro National Park – Very sad. I hope the culprit is cost. It seems like penalties should be higher for this kind of vandalism in a national park.

National Audubon Society Offers Great Educational Resources -  I find myself checking in on the puffins and hummingbirds!

Rome's Colosseum Is Reopening Its Upper Tiers to Visitors | Smart News | Smithsonian – The upper levels have been closed for 40 years due to structural concerns. Now restoration efforts have allowed then to be re-opened.

A Little Calm in a Noisy World | The Prairie Ecologist – The restorative power of spending a little time out in the natural world.

Incredible Macro Photography of Peacock Feathers by Can Tunçer – I am a fan of peacock feathers; one of my grandmothers raised peacocks and I have some feathers she sent to me from the 1980s.

"Living" Chandelier is a Green Lighting Piece Filled with Algae – I like items that are beautiful and serve another function at the same time. I hope eventually that light fixtures are available…and affordable.

BBC - Future - Anti-ageing: Is it possible, and would we want it? – An update on science…and prompting for thoughts of the domino changes that would occur if anti-ageing was reality.

Zooming – August 2017

It’s always fun to review the pictures I’ve taken during the month and select the ones where I used the zoom feature on my camera. I use it a lot so have most of my pictures ‘fit’ the criteria. Plants are the most frequent object…but there are butterflies and a bird this month as well. Enjoy the slide show!