Zooming – July 2019

I probably use the zoom on my camera for most of my pictures. It allows me to frame the picture the way I want and to ‘see’ the environment better than I can with just my eyes. Sometimes I am at the limit of what my camera can do. For example – the tiger swallowtails are particularly numerous in my back yard this summer and I kept seeing then flying under the maple tree where my compost pile is located. I used my camera like binoculars to see that the swallowtails were ‘puddling’ in the compost pile after a rain. They must have been enjoying the nutrient rich water!

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There was a smallish robin that fluttered down from the maple and sat in the grass – just looking around for a few minutes before returned to the tree. It didn’t look or find a worm! Probably a fledging.

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On the hottest day of the summer (so far), a wasp got a drink from our bird bath. Sometimes I find wasps that have drowned in the bird bath but so far it hasn’t happened this year. Maybe they are getting better as just getting the drink that they need.

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Now enjoy the slide show of other zoomed pictures from this month:

  • Plane tree

  • Fireworks

  • Pocket prairie plants

  • Yellow crowned night heron

  • Great egret

  • Female cardinal

  • Fawn

  • Goldfinch

Josey Ranch Lake – July 2019

Last April when I walked around Josey Ranch Lake, there were grackles, coots and cedar waxwings.

The coots and cedar waxwings were gone, but the grackles were around – and noisy. The Great-tailed Grackles are probably the most noticeable bird at Josey Ranch Lake (along with pigeons) but what made them more interesting this time were fledglings – new enough that their parents were still feeding them occasionally. Note that the adults have yellow eyes that is indicative of Great-tailed Grackles rather than Boat-tailed Grackles (dark eyes). The juvenile grackle has dark eyes…but since a yellow eyed adult was feeding it, I expect it is a Great-tailed juvenile.

There were white feathers on the grass.

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And three kinds of white birds that I saw in the short time I was there: 1) a Great Egret. At first it was fishing in the water then strutted out onto the concrete walk. Those toes are long…and the feathers were ruffling in the breeze!

A resident 2) Mute Swan was on the lake. I didn’t see one in April, but they were probably there. I’ve seen one juvenile years ago, but I don’t think there have been any cygnets in the past few years.

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A 3) Snowy Egret preened and hunted in the shallows. The wind ruffled its feathers. It stayed in the water, so I didn’t see its yellow socks, but the beak and size are distinctive enough for the identification.

As I walked around the lake, I noted spider webs and shelf fungus. The cloudy day was not the best for photography, but the morning was my only chance to be there.

The high point of the morning was an accidently sighting of a Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron. I wondered if it was the same one I had seen there in June of 2018. This one was in one of the smaller ponds near the lake. I was looking through the vegetation to see if there were any ducks on the pond when I saw it…the only bird in the pond. It didn’t seem to notice me. It was casually hunting the area; I didn’t see it catch anything.

Gleanings of the Week Ending August 25, 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.

Top 25 Birds that Scavenge – National Geographic and Top 25 Grassland Birds – National Geographic – There have been a couple of ’25 birds’ posts since I last included them in the gleanings list…I am catching up.

Image of the Day: Slimy Business | The Scientist Magazine® - Corn species in Mexico that can trap nitrogen…maybe it can be incorporated into the corn that dominates agriculture; that would reduce the amount of fertilizer required for the crop.

BBC - Future - The simple change that can save patients’ lives – Finally – there is more attention being paid to reducing noise (so many beeps and alarms) in hospitals. I’ve always wondered how they thought anyone could rest enough to recover in the hospital environment. Hopefully lighting will get some attention too….move away from the current dominance of blue tinged light for all times of the day and night.

Maple leaf extract could nip skin wrinkles in the bud -- ScienceDaily – The article contained relatively little information maybe because there is a patent pending on the formulation. There will probably be I have a red maple in my back yard and may try making a strong tea from the leaves…seeing how it feels on my skin.

Stirrings in the Muck: Fiddler Crabs, Yellow-Crowned Night Herons Locked in Climate Change Dance – National Geographic – The picture at the top of the article of the yellow-crowed night heron (which I saw for the first time in Carrollton TX earlier this summer) caught my attention…and I read the rest of the article.

Highly effective natural plant-based food preservative discovered -- ScienceDaily – Hope this lives up to its promise and becomes the food preservative of choice. The preservatives currently in use have side effects that are troubling at best.

BBC - Future - Are forgotten crops the future of food? – I have enjoyed the increase varieties of veggies I get from the CSA…and hope that we can further expand the food crops we utilize – for our health and to build more resilience into our food system which now is vulnerable because of the small number of plants and animals that we rely on.

Reverse Power Flow: How Solar + Batteries Shift Electric Grid Decision Making from Utilities to Consumers (In Depth) | CleanTechnica – I’ve started to wonder when the tipping point will occur – when there will be a mass economic defection by consumers away from big electric utilities. With small-scale solar ramping up to 20% of the new power plant capacity in the last 4 quarters and more people added energy storage to their solar arrays – maybe it is starting. It’s a fundamental shift for everyone. Maybe now is not the time to invest in utility companies unless they are buying in to that shift.

See Shells of Sea Spuds on the Seashore | Smart News | Smithsonian – I’d never heard of sea potatoes before…they are a kind of sea urchin. I had hoped the article would say something about how sea urchins respond to increasing ocean acidity. An article from last April said that purple sea urchins were already adapting. Are sea potatoes adapting too?

First biomarker evidence of DDT-autism link: National birth cohort study finds DDT metabolites in the blood of pregnant women are associated with elevated odds of autism in offspring -- ScienceDaily – A study of more than 1 million pregnancies in Finland between 1987 to 2005. The study found that autism correlated to maternal DDT…but not PCB…exposure.

Ten Little Celebrations – June 2018

The ten little celebrations for June started out like other months:

  • Celebrating the last of the spring field trips and the end of schools. I enjoy hiking with school groups….but am always ready to have a summer break!
  • The Frederick MD garden day was full of garden treasures. I celebrated formal gardens…a children’s’ garden…and most of all a woodland garden.

 

  • My daughter managed a weekend to drive down for a weekend visit. She is closer now that she lives in Pennsylvania rather than Arizona, but we are all so busy that we don’t see each other any more frequently.

Then something unique happened: my mother fell and broke her femur…and I went off to Texas for almost 3 weeks. The rest of the little celebrations were all stem from that event:

  • The surgery to fix the break happened within 24 hours and was success.
  • I managed to get to Texas before she left the hospital – barely.
  • She walked about 100 feet with a walker before she left the hospital….and only spent 2 days at a rehab place before going home.
  • I manage a short walk around Josey Ranch lake while one of my sister was with my parents and saw 4 types of herons in about 30 minutes…two were ‘firsts’ for me: a yellow crowned heron and juvenile green herons. It was my only photography away from my parents’ house and was short…but very satisfying.

 

  • Last but not least – the physical therapy milestones just before my left: my mother walked down a paved alley and across a grassy lawn with her walker….and we’d already gotten a cane to be ready for her next milestone! The she – and the whole family – celebrates every milestone!

Zooming – June 2018

I am late getting out the posts that I normally write toward the end of the month….this is a catch up week after being in Texas for almost 3 weeks! As usual – it was easy to find favorite pictures taken in June that used the zooming capabilities of my camera. There are all the usual suspects – birds, butterflies, and vegetation. Can you pick out which ones were in Texas and which were in Maryland?

Enjoy the June slideshow!

Josey Ranch Lake – Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Another heron I saw at Josey Ranch Lank was  Yellow Crowned Night Heron. This heron is much larger than the green heron; in the image below the yellow crowned night heron is on the right and the green heron (adult) is on the left (a ball is in the center).

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Both herons were in the fallen reeds looking for breakfast and both found a crayfish. The pictures of the green heron catch were not clear enough to see the crayfish…but the shape and antennae or evident for the night heron’s catch.

This was a bid I had to look up in AllAboutBirds when I got back from my walk. I’d taken enough pictures from various angles to make the identification. It looked like a heron although the head looked more rounded that some of the other herons. The markings give it a different ‘facial expression’ as well – our minds always jump to that thinking, assigning a ‘personality’ to the bird that overlays assumptions made for our species onto the bird.