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.

Macro photography before hiking

Last week I was at Howard County Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant Farm for several field trips (kindergarteners and second graders). Before the field trips, I walked around the grounds and experimented with some more macro photography with my smartphone – using the same set up as I did at Brookside Gardens earlier (results from Brookside here).

It is sometimes surprising how different something looks with the macro lens. The textures along with the small structures I wouldn’t see otherwise are what makes it so appealing to walk around taking pictures with the macro lens. My favorite in this group is the baby pear.

The highpoint of the hikes with the school groups happened during the kindergarten field trip. I had walked up to the front of the farm house with my first group of the day. We were talking about what might live in the big oak tree near the house. They answered squirrels and birds right away. I turned around to look at the tree – and noticed a black coil in a depression of the trunk about at the eye level of children! The sun was shining on it like a spotlight. I turned back to the children and told them that black rat snakes live in trees too – and there was one right on the trunk of tree (and I was glad we were not standing any closer than we were). The two parent chaperones took a step back. The children just watched as the snake started moving and crawled under the loose bark of the tree. What a fabulous drama to start a field trip!