Since today is National hummingbird day—the winner of the photography challenge is the hummingbird.
There are currently over 300 species of hummingbirds in the western hemisphere with at 150 of them living within the equatorial belt (which is ranges from ten degrees north of the equator to ten degrees south of the equator).
Of the approximate 150 species living outside the equatorial belt, there are only twenty-three that venture north into North America: Mexico, the United States and Canada. This is also usually only during the spring and summer, then they make the return flight south to warmer climates for the winter.
Then of the twenty-three species that make it north, they spread out to where you may only see one species in one part of the country, but if you head towards another area, you may see three or four.
For Oklahoma, there are three species that can be found in some part of the state: the ruby-throated hummingbird, the black-chinned hummingbird, and the rufous hummingbird (though this one mostly just flies through).
Though since Stillwater is in the north central part of the state (and probably could be considered north-east central), we really don’t see the black-chinned hummingbird as it is more common western part of the state (particularly in the southwest corner and the panhandle). So until it moves further east due to climate changes, we might get the sporadic one coming through—but for the most part we will mainly have the ruby-throated hummingbirds.
One goal may be to see how many of the other hummingbirds I can spot when I travel—though if I do any traveling into forests (specifically rain forests)—they will be extremely hard to spot, as animals have a tendency to avoid humans at all costs.
So since today is International Cat Day–it is only fitting that the winners of today’s photography challenge are the cats.
So we have three cats (all adopted from the local humane society). The eldest cat (by about a year and a half or so) is Pyewicket, our calico cat.
Then we have our “breakfast duo”: Waffles and Pancakes.
We got Waffles and Pancakes within a few days of each other–Waffles was adopted first, and then I saw Pancakes picture on the site, and fell in love. It had been almost a decade since I had lost my first cat, Bigfoot (who was also a black cat–though he had more white on him than Panny does). Pancakes is my little cuddle bug at night, and in the morning. She loves to sit on my lap–and does a good job of reminding me when I spend to much time on the computer.
Not the best picture of Waffles, our Russian blue cat–but lately she has decided that the top of the cat condo is her spot to sleep (though that is where my cat usually likes to relax). This is our little troublemaker–she doesn’t like change (and lets you know), and isn’t above possibly starting things with the puppies.
I know find it funny that we’re in a “age reversal” with the animals–when we got the cats, we had several dogs, but they’re were all in their adult years. Now we got a puppy (and my brother got one last year), the cats are in their adult years and are acting like it. I swear if they could talk it would probably be nothing but “get off my lawn”, “turn the music down” and “in my day” from the cats to the pups.
I have realized that when I move–I will need to bring in a kitten (after a few months) so that Pancakes has company, and then after say another six months or so maybe get a puppy and hopefully that will all turn out nicely.
Happy International Cat Day!!! Do your cats and dogs get along all the time?
So today marks the summer solstice for the northern hemisphere–it’s the longest day of the year (more or less), and the first day of summer. The only reason why it’s more or less the longest day is that some people may have had a slightly longer night last night, or they might have it tomorrow night. The summer solstice falls between June 20 & June 22 every year.
So what better way of celebrating the solstice than with a flashback Friday photograph to Stonehenge. I was thrilled when I managed to book a reservation to go out to Stonehenge on my brief trip to the United Kingdom a couple of years ago. I still want to get back and go to Greenwich and tour a little more around London.
Stonehenge is one of the places that pops into the minds of people (at least for me) when thinking about the summer solstice. I’ve always been in awe with the both the construction and layout of the stones. People were able to get huge stones moved inland, put them upright, and then able to put stones on top of those–and most are still upright a few thousand years later.
So now we’re going to have ten plus hours of sunlight for a few months (the days are going to start getting shorter), and that means hopefully more time outdoors (at least on the weekends). I love summer time (mainly because of the longer days, but I don’t like the humidity that goes with southern weather. One thing I’ve learned–the older I get the less I’m able to quickly adapt to high heat indexes. So where ever I move it will either need to be towards a cooler climate in the summer (which means really cold in the winter, and dark earlier), or just make sure that I have enough window fans to keep an apartment cool.
While I’ve had plans for doing some gardening this spring, those plans never came to be–so I’m going to have to make due with weeding out the other gardens and maybe plan for some fall plantings for early spring flowers.
On another note, I think that if I’m able to swing more than one large trip (a networking and then a vacation) soon it will be to Scotland for a few days, take a train down to London, then after a few days take a train to Paris (and maybe down to Madrid) and then fly home.
So today’s pictures all have a common theme: turtles!!! Today is World Turtle Day–a day to celebrate turtles and tortoises, and to maybe help keep them from tumbling over the edge into extinction.
So far this year, it has been a good year for seeing turtles up at Boomer Lake. I don’t think I really got any pictures of turtles last year on my early morning walks (which isn’t surprising since it was basically as the sun was coming up–they were still snoozing in the water or wherever they sleep).
Managed to get a picture of one swimming on Sunday as well. According to one person fishing, there is even a bigger one swimming around the lake. He claimed it should be about four times the size of this one.
I did see this box turtle last fall moving through the park. It had been the first time in quite a few years that I’d seen a box turtle in the area. They are one turtle that I do keep an eye out for in the mornings when I’m headed to catch the bus. I will usually try to help them across the busy road (in which ever direction they’re heading). Ten to fifteen years ago, they use to be extremely common in the neighborhood–not so much these days.
And of course, there is my favorite–the sea turtle. I’ve seen them in the wild (when I went to Hawaii), in aquariums (such as the New England Aquarium), and rehabilitation centers as well. These majestic sea creatures are some of the most vulnerable species currently–due to climate change, hunting, and the daily dangers of living in the oceans. All sea turtle species are listed at some level on the endangered species list.
I would love to be able to see a leatherback sea turtle in the wild. I would also like to make it to the Galapagos Islands and see the tortoises in their natural environment as well.
Turtles and tortoises all play an important role in their respected environments–environments that we should be protecting and not destroying. So when you’re out and about–slow down if you see wildlife crossing the road. If it’s possible (and safe to do so), stop and help the turtle(s) cross the road–just be careful if it’s a snapping turtle. The world is dark enough as it is–lets keep the light shining by helping to bring some species back from the brink of extinction.
Yesterday marks world Penguin Day. It’s a day to celebrate some of the unique members of the avian world. These birds are all found in the southern hemisphere–from temperate, warm waters down to the icy cold waters of the Antarctic.
If you are unable to see these majestic birds in their natural habitats (and I realize that is one thing I would love to be able to do–is see a penguin in the wild), the next best place is either a zoo or an aquarium.
The New England Aquarium actually has three species of penguins living there: the rockhopper, the little blue, and the African penguin.
The rockhopper penguin is one of the smaller species of penguin. They are found in the southern hemisphere, with one subspecies (the northern rockhopper) living in the cool temperate climates on islands in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The other two subspecies are found in the more southern oceans around Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand.
Their diet consists of krill, shrimp, crabs, lobsters, crayfish, squid, and fish; though they eat mostly krill and crustaceans more than fish and squid.
Their predators are all at sea (for adults) and consist of seals (leopard & fur), killer whales, and blue sharks. The eggs and young are eaten by numerous different bird species including different gulls and giant petrels (to name a few).
Both males and females look similar, so one actually has to do a DNA test to determine the gender of the penguin in captivity. Their key characteristics that differentiate them from other penguins include their red eyes, orange been, pink webbed feet, and the yellow spiky feathers on their heads. Another distinguishing characteristics is that they don’t slide on their bellies (since their habitat is rocky areas—it makes sense not to to slide downhill on their stomach), they hop from one place to another—hence the name rockhopper penguin.
The little blue penguin is the smallest species of penguin—it only gets to be about a foot tall. It lives on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand.
Their diet consists of fish, squids, and crustaceans—such as arrow squids, anchovy, and red cod. The female little blue matures at about two years of age, while the male matures at about three years of age. Their nests are close to the ocean, both parents share the duties of egg incubation and rearing the chicks (which usually fledge within seven to eight weeks after hatching).
The New England Aquarium, is the only aquarium outside of Australia and New Zealand that houses a colony of little blue penguins.
The other names for the African penguin include: the jackass penguin and the black-footed penguin. This penguin is confined to the south-western African waters, and is listed as endangered.
Since the penguin is listed as endangered—numerous breeding populations are kept at different zoos and aquariums worldwide. One reason for their numbers decline is the harsh environment in which they breed—if the birds get overheated while sitting on the eggs—they will abandon the nest and eggs won’t survive. The young face threats of predators and the heat of the sun.
Their diet is similar to other penguins and includes squid and other small crustaceans. These penguins breed in colonies, and the pairs will return to the same site each year.
Watching the penguins at the aquarium is always something I enjoy doing–mainly because you never know what they’re going to be doing. They might sit around, they may go for a swim, or wander around. They’ve always been a favorite bird of mine, and I’d love to either see the other species in the wild or at other zoos and aquariums around the country or the world.
So today is international plant appreciation day, so I’m
taking time to appreciation some plants that most people get rid of in their
yards—the misfits, the unloved, the weeds or more appropriately the
Some people consider wildflowers to be weeds because they
pop up wherever they want—not necessarily where humans would like them to be,
and not all of them actually produce pretty flowers—some do, but others do not.
They also can spread throughout a yard as well, at times out competing the
grass for nutrients and that is one reason why people don’t like them.
So one of the plants that we allow to grow within the backyard is Creeping Charlie, though we do try to stay on top of it and pull about half out every other week, so we have ground cover, but it isn’t totally taking over the yard.
Creeping Charlie has several other names that it goes by
including ground ivy, gill-over-the-ground, alehoof, tunhoot, catsfoot, field
balm, and run-away-robin. It is a member of the mint family, and is a perennial
(meaning it will come back year after year) evergreen creeper.
The flowers of Creeping Charlie can range from blue to
bluish-violet to lavender and usually flowers in the spring. While the plant
can be considered an weed, there numerous insects that feed off of the plant
including several different species of bees—so to help the bee population—don’t
get rid of the Creeping Charlie in your yard.
The other photo is of pretty white flower of another yard
“weed”. This one has been a little harder to identify because if you google “weeds
with white flowers in Oklahoma” you get pictures of weeds with flowers—but only
about ten to fifteen percent of the flowers are white, and then none of them
look to be the same shape as the one in my picture.
So this one will remain unnamed for now until I can figure
So in terms of plant appreciation day—if it weren’t for
plants there wouldn’t be life on the planet. They are the ones that fix carbon
dioxide and release the oxygen that we breathe—so it is important to make sure
that there are plants (especially trees) around to do this—or no life. They’re
also important part of our diets, and we use them to provide shade, help reduce
noise, provide privacy, use in erosion control, modify temperatures, and help
reduce wind damage.
So remember even when life gets crazy to stop and enjoy the
beauty of the plants around us—because if they disappear—we won’t be far
Yesterday was Zoo Lover Day—and I wish I could have spent the day at a zoo watching the animals instead of being inside working. But alas, that didn’t happen this year (maybe next year). I’ve realized that I’ve only been to probably five zoos over the years since I was a kid. I’ve been to a couple of these zoos yearly growing up, as they were part of our vacation—but since then I’ve only been to one new zoo. Which is why I have on my 101-goal list—visit at least one new zoo and aquarium at some point over the next 1001 days.
What are a few zoo facts?
Zoos have been around since the 1700s. With the Vienna zoo
being the oldest existing zoo—it’s been open since 1765. The first public zoo
in the US was opened in 1874—Central Park Zoo.
There are 350 zoos in the US alone.
~175 million people visit a zoo each year.
3.2 million people visit the San Diego Zoo each year & over 9.8 million
people visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom each year.
Out of the 350 zoos in the United States, I’ve been to the following zoos: Oklahoma City Zoo, Tulsa Zoo, Como Park Zoo (in St Paul MN), Henry Vilas Zoo (Madison WI), and the Franklin Park Zoo (Boston MA). All pictures that are in the post today came from my one trip to the Franklin Park Zoo when I was living in Boston quite a few years ago.
I would love to again see one in the wild—but going through the forests of the Andes to try to find an elusive scavenger that is endangered—I’ll just have to be happy trying to get a good picture of it in zoos. Though it might be a bonus if I ever do make it to South America and travel through the rainforests.
I would love to see one in the wild—but I don’t think that I’d be traveling in the western part of Australia (unless I did some type of group tour). While Australia is on my list of places I want to visit–I’m currently planning on staying on the more populated side of the island.
While I would love to see most of the animals in their natural habitat (at a very safe distance mind you), I understand that they’re in zoos due to human behavior. We (humans) have yet to figure out how to live in harmony with the rest of the planet; we take and destroy without thinking of the long term consequences of our actions. Most of these animals now have to be in zoos to survive, if not they would be extinct due again to human nature.
One goal/bucket list item may be to see how many other zoos in the US I can visit over the years–I’ve been to five, and that means that there are at least 345 more zoos that I should try to visit.
So with these different random holidays, I’ve decided that I can also work them into the photography challenge either with newly taken pictures or newly shared pictures. The butterflies are falling into the second category–newly shared pictures.
So besides being π day,
it is also National Learn About Butterflies Day (and since it is a random
unofficial holiday—no one knows exactly who to credit with the day). Since
spring and summer are (hopefully) right around the corner, mid-March seems like
a good time to investigate the wonder and beauty that are butterflies.
One place that people can go to learn about butterflies are butterfly gardens. Most large cities have at least one major butterfly garden (and they’re usually associated with zoos or museums). I enjoyed the one at the Science Museum in Boston, and that is actually now a new goal—to see how many other butterfly gardens I can visit in different cities.
So what are some cool
facts about butterflies?
There are over than 20,000 types of butterflies worldwide.
Their wingspans can range from 1/2 inch to 11 inches. So they range from fairly small to fairly large.
Some butterflies mimic the coloring of others to avoid being eaten (Viceroy butterflies mimic the monarch butterfly)
Adult butterflies can live from a week to nearly a year, depending on the species.
Many butterflies migrate over long distances. The most well-known butterfly migration is the monarch butterfly. It winters in Mexico, and then heads to the northern US and southern Canada.
To help butterflies (and bees) out, one can plant different flowers in their garden, and even different herbs as well. To help the monarch butterfly out one can plant milkweed (it gives them their off taste that keeps predators from eating them). The best thing to do is to ensure that the garden has flowers throughout the seasons (spring, summer and fall). I’m going to be trying to get more flowers out into the yard this spring and summer to see what type of butterflies I can attract.
So today is Pi (π) Day.
Π is the symbol used in math to represent the ratio of the circumference
of a circle to its diameter. The constant has been calculated to over 1
trillion digits past the decimal point—but usually people remember at least the
first three digits: 3.14 (and if you want to go a little further there 159
after the .14). I’ve always just
remembered it as 3.141 (and sometimes remembering that 59 after the .141). But since π is pronounced “pie” it can also
be considered a day to eat pie as well. It is always celebrated on March 14, as
the date numerically is: 3-14 (or 3.14)
In terms of “pie” that one can eat on π day—there is
the usual pizza (it does come shaped as a pie), there is quiche, potpie, and
then the sweeter pies such as apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, cherry, and any
type of combinations you can probably think of and cook. Personally I love
apple and pumpkin pie during the holidays, during the summer I love ice cream
pies, and I’m also partial to pecan pies during the fall as well.
So to celebrate π day—we had pizza for dinner, and if I can find a slice of pie at one of the little delis on campus tomorrow, I’ll have it as a late celebratory dessert.
Well, better late than deciding not to post at all. I thought I had the draft saved last night–but I guess with the high winds and internet/modem problems it didn’t save.
So yesterday (March 13) marks a unique day—it was national
jewel day. So the origins of the celebrating jewels on March 13 are unknown (as
it isn’t an official holiday)—but there are several different ways of
celebrating the day:
You can go out and buy yourself a new piece of jewelry
You can make some new jewelry
Exchange jewelry gifts with friends
Learn about jewels from different cultures
Some of the jewels that can be celebrated include the
Garnet (for those born in January)
Amethyst (for those born in February)
Aquamarine (for those born in March)
Diamond (for those born in April)
Emerald (for those born in May)
Pearl (for those born in June)
Ruby (for those born in July)
Peridot (for those born in August)
Sapphire (for those born in September)
Opal (for those born in October)
Citrine, Yellow Topaz (for those born in November)
Tanzanite, Zircon, Blue Topaz (for those born in December).
I’m a September baby—which means that I really like my
sapphires, though I’m also partial to emeralds, yellow topaz, and blue topaz as
well. Though jewelry doesn’t necessarily have to have jewels in it to make it
Lately I’ve been getting into wearing more sterling silver necklaces (I don’t wear rings or bracelets that often due to being in research position, and at times needing to wear gloves), that have a more old world (pagan) vibe. When I do wear rings, they also fall into that category as well.
I also like my costume jewelry (especially for Halloween), or jewelry that is based off of movies (such as the Harry Potter series).
I do have a couple of bracelets that I don’t wear all that often (again mainly due to working in the lab and not wanting things to tear the gloves when I’m wearing those.
One of the bracelets was a gift from my niece, and the other is one that I wear around Halloween time (depending on the costume).
One of these days I’m planning on getting my ears re-pierced, as there are so many cool earrings out there now. I had my ears pierced twice when I was younger, but have allowed the holes to heal back over. So we will have to see if I manage to get my ears re-pierced in the near future, I’m pretty sure that I’ve saved most of my old ear rings (they’re with the rest of my jewelry in storage), so I’d probably have some “vintage” pairs to share pictures of on the next national jewel day.