So today is National American Eagle Day or National Bald Eagle Day. This is the day that various organizations set aside to help raise awareness about our national symbol–the Bald Eagle.
The history behind the bald eagle being chosen for the national symbol is slightly humorous. In case you haven’t heard some of the history, here is a very condensed version:
Since most countries adopt an animal for their national symbol, the Continental Congress wanted to do so as well, but the first national seal was actually Lady Liberty holding a shield. Since that wasn’t what they wanted, they made inquires with others for thoughts and the first ‘choice/suggestion/selection’ was actually the golden eagle.
Again, the Continental Congress wasn’t happy with the suggestion–mainly because the golden eagle could also be found in Europe and therefore it wouldn’t do. They then looked to ‘native birds’ and decided on the bald eagle (though the turkey was also suggested as it was also ‘native’).
The bald eagle was ‘fierce-looking’ and the fledgling country thought it was a better representation of the country to the world–therefore it was selected. Even after the war was over, there was discussion on whether to keep the bald eagle as the emblem or think of a new one–Benjamin Franklin kept rooting for the turkey.
This story does raises a fairly good historical question–if we had managed to breakaway from England without war, what animal would have been chosen as the national symbol–would it still have been the eagle, or maybe the turkey, or maybe something else?
So that is the brief history behind how the bald eagle became our national bird and symbol.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t had really ‘clear skies’ over the past three hundred years.
By the 1950s both the bald eagle and the golden eagle were at risk of becoming extinct. This was due to a combination of over hunting (young bald eagles happen to look a lot like golden eagles, so they were often killed ‘by mistake’–hunters thought they were bagging young golden eagles), pesticide use (DTT poisoned fish led to eagles laying eggs with very thin shells, which ended up at times getting crushed from the parents sitting on them), and habitat loss.
Once DTT was banned, and the eagles placed on the endangered species list their populations started to make a recovery. In case of the bald eagle, they were downgraded from endangered to threatened in 1995, and then in 2007 they were removed entirely from both the endangered species and the threatened species lists as their populations had recovered enough. They’re usually under state protection these days.
Though in recent years, there had been a die off of bald eagles in the southeastern portion of the US, but that has finally been traced to a toxic algae bloom in the waters (something scientists are now keeping an eye on).
I enjoy catching site of the bald eagle as it soars over Boomer Lake throughout the year, and I also enjoyed watching the bald eagles up at Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota sit on top of the Norway pines as they watched the waters waiting for their next meal to come closer to the surface.
The mourning dove is a ‘constant’ visitor to our backyard during the year. Since we have so many feeders, they’re guaranteed to find some food somewhere in the yard.
The ‘street’ (feral or rock) pigeon I’ve only seen when I was out in Boston and then over in London–they seem to prefer larger cities where people gather more (larger parks, plazas, open shopping areas and food).
In addition to these pages, I’ve also added in the first of the four additional organizational pages: the ‘Raptors’ or birds of prey. This allowed me to group those bird orders together under a tab (each order is still listed separately, but easier to scroll to). The other three additional organizational pages (the song birds, the water birds, and all other birds) will be getting added over the next few weeks–the ‘raptors’ was the first on the list, and also the ‘easiest’ to do as I had all those groups done and up on the site. The others may still have more ‘orders’ being added.
The next group I’m going to look at starting will probably be the ducks, swans, and geese. This group will result in another fourteen to fifteen pages being added, in addition there are a few single pages I need to add to a few sections for the birds I had spotted over in the UK and forgot about until this week.
The North American Nature Photography Association designated June 15 to be Nature Photography Day.
Their first ‘Nature Photography Day’ was back in June 2006, and their goal is to promote the enjoyment of nature photography, and through the use of the camera advance the ’cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes both locally and globally’.
They (the North American Nature Photography Association) also run a photography contest every year marking the holiday as well. This year the challenge started on June 4 and ends tonight (June 15). You are able to enter multiple nature photographs throughout the week and a half that the contest runs–I’m sad that I only saw the contest this morning, but one can either download the app (iNaturalist) to your phone or sign up on the site (iNaturalist) to submit pictures for the contest. Though even after the contest ends–you can still share pictures through the site.
I will be setting up an account via the site (and deciding when to also put in an application to join the North American Nature Photography Association) some time this afternoon, so that I can share a few pictures that I’ve taken over the past week and half (Luckily my last walk up at Boomer Lake was on the 4th).
I’d decided years ago that nature photography was going to be one of the photography ‘sub-areas’ that I’d focus on for several reasons: 1) I enjoy being outdoors and exploring, 2) I like to ‘look’ for various animals (such as birds or insects), and 3) it is almost always a ‘free’ thing to do when exploring new areas.
So here are some of the nature photographs that I’ve taken over the past few months that I would rank among my favorites so far for the second quarter of 2021:
As I was walking back across the bridge, I noticed this little grasshopper nymph sitting in the wildflower. Since I’m not an entomologist, I’m not sure what nymph stage this insect was at or if it is even a grasshopper.
I spotted this bird on one of my walks, and I think based on the red flank that it was possibly a male orchid oriole.
Just about a hundred yards or so after spotting the possible Orchid Oriole, I spotted a green heron preening itself in one of the covers. Also captured in the picture was a grackle and a couple of turtles sunning themselves.
And finally–the state bird (the scissor-tailed flycatcher) is in the area again for a few months. This beautiful flycatcher is a resident from about late April through late August/early September (though sometimes still spotted in late September or early October).
So these were just a small number of pictures that I’ve taken over the past two months since I’ve been trying to get back into at least doing a monthly walk at Boomer Lake. Now that summer is here–I will probably only be doing a single walk a month at Boomer (unless really nice temps hit), so I will also use the backyard and creek area as inspiration for practicing nature photography as well.
Reference for Nature Photography Day: www.nanpa.org/events/nature-photography-day
These two pages, along with their family pages (Family Fregatidae for the frigatebird, and Family Phalacrocoracidae for the cormorant), and the order page (Suliformes) are all live under the birding tab.
Getting these five pages up, have brought the birding section to a total of 68 pages, and I still have roughly another 83 pages to add for all the other birds I’ve seen. Therefore I’m going to possibly be adding in three or four new organizational pages to the birding section over the next week or so:
Raptors–and then have all the different birds of prey orders linked to this page
Songbirds–this will be the ‘organizational’ page for the order, with all its numerous families and species (this section actually accounts for over half the pages I still need to add)
‘Water Birds’–orders that are associated with the water
‘All other birds’–the game birds, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and those that don’t fit into the other three categories
This way as I continue to bird watch and work on improving my birding photography, the tab/section will be better organized, and the drop down menu will be easier to navigate.
As the summer temperatures have settled in over Oklahoma, I realize that I probably won’t be seeing any cormorants until early to mid-fall (the last of the youngsters should have moved out of the area), and to try to get a better picture of a frigatebird means travel–and I’m not feeling comfortable yet to travel.
Have you been able to see the magnificent frigatebird in flight? If so–off of which coast?
Since it looks like summer is here to stay, I’m slowly catching up on things. It is amazing how much more you can get done when it is too hot and humid to be outside (I think we have a heat advisory through tomorrow night).
So, I decided that I would try to see how many #ThursdayThrowbackTravel posts I could generate this summer and fall–both as blog posts and as pages under the travel tab.
The first entry for the ‘series’ is looking back at a trip we took to Arkansas a little over four years ago, when we visited Devil’s Den State Park. The park is located probably halfway between Fayetteville and Fort Smith within the Ozark National Forest.
The park offers three main outdoor activities: hiking (or walking), mountain bike riding, and horseback riding (as long as you supply the bike or horse). We went for the hiking/walking aspect. They also offer either camping or cabins for rent.
During our three to four day stay; at least half the day was spent out on different trails (that were either easy or moderate in terms fo difficulty–so not that much climbing or stairs involved).
There are approximately 13 trails within the park, with one or two being set aside strictly for mountain biking. The others you can hike, and on most of them–you also need to watch out for people on mountain bikes or horses.
Taking these kind of trips take me right to one of my ‘happy places’–being out in nature. I enjoy trying to catch glimpses of different wildlife, seeing how many different birds I can spot, and taking numerous wildflower photos.
While the world is slowly opening back up–I’ve been slowly thinking of trying to plan a trip for sometime between 2022-2024 (nice time frame, right), though I know it may not be an outdoor trip (I prefer taking nature based trips with other people, safety in numbers), but possibly a trip to a new city/state or even country–if I’m feeling up to air travel (will have to see how things play out pandemic wise).
What is your favorite state park to visit? Then where is your favorite hiking trail?
So we’re entering the final month of the first half of the year–I guess with the vaccines rolling out to deal with the pandemic, time seems to be speeding up again (at least for me). I’m slowly figuring out my productivity ‘cycle’ as I’ve realized that I’m more productive/aare during certain months compared to others. This shouldn’t have surprised me–everything is basically cyclic, from our days to our habits–we have good days and bad days. Therefore I’m working on not ‘beating’ myself up if I don’t hit all the milestones that I set for teh month (and I have been in the habit of setting a lot of goals lately).
I’m still planning on self-isolating for at least the summer and early fall (I want to see what type of numbers we’re going to ahve wtih summer and everyone heading out on vacations and traveling).
The news is still irritating/disturbing (but what else is new?)–The republican senators blocked the passage of the bipartisan commission to look into January 6th, and everyone who voted to block it should be voted out of office next year (fingers crossed, but not holding out too much hope). It has been 100 years since the Tulsa Race Massacre, and I think the event is just making its way into Oklahoma history books. I grew up in Oklahoma, and part of the curriculum to graduate is taking a semester class on Oklahoma history, and this event wasn’t covered (and it wasn’t covered in high school American history either), I think I first heard about it in college.
I’m still liking the fact that we have an administration that is actually listening to science, as we’re still slowly getting the virus under control. When I published ‘April in Review’, I noted that the US was just a little over 33.1 million cases, and now the US is at a little over 34.1 million cases (so an increase of basically a million cases, and I think this has been one of the lowest increases since last summer). This is probably due to more people getting the vaccine and listening to the experts. Now we’re just going to have to wait and see if there are any spikes this summer/fall due to summer breaks, vacations, and the experts saying that if you’re fully vaccinated (and without underlying health conditions) you don’t have to wear a mask or really social distance (I’m fully vaccinated & I plan on still doing both of those things for quite a while).
Though before jumping into June with both feet (and becoming more productive), I need to look back at the goals I set for May and see how I did with each of them.
The goals for May included:
At least 135-155,000 steps
Finish up 21-Day Fix Live & start 21-Day Fix Extreme Live
Finish reading the three books I started in April
Read 3 fiction books
Finish up the Clinical Research Coalition program, the writing/editing assignments for MWO, and the first two modules of the Regulatory Affairs Council program
No spend days/No spend weeks/limited spending month
Time outdoors & meditation/sitting quietly
Craft time (make/design 1 necklace/bracelet set)
Finish (or start) at least two other e-courses
Manage at least 30-45 minutes a day of Spanish
Activate the time management app: Self Control
So how did I do with each of them?
At least 135-155,000 steps; I managed to surpass the minimal number of steps, and actually got 187,855 steps for the month. This included several walks up at Boomer Lake, and at least two to four walks through the neighborhood with Chaos.
Finish 21-Day Fix Live and start 21-Day fix extreme live; Well, I finished the first week of 21-Day Fix Live, then concentraetd more on intentional movements for a couple of weeks, and then started my 3rd round of LIIFT4 at the end of the month.
Finish reading the three books I started in April; I did manage to read (and finish) two non-fiction books this month, but they weren’t ones that I started in April. Instead they were books that were randomly chosen as I started to play my personal/professional baord game. The two books were ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’ by Meik Wiking and ‘Permission to Screw Up: How I Learned to Lead by Doing (almost) Everything Wrong’ by Kristen Hadeed. Book reviews for both of the books have been posted as well last week. One of the two (‘Little Book of Hygge’) was actually on my abridged 2021 reading list.
Read 3 fiction books; While I managed to read quite a few fiction books throughout the month–there were really only three that were ‘brand’ new reads (the rest were basically re-reads). The three books that I read were (and book reviews will hopefully be posted wtihnn the next week or so):
Love Under Two Warriors (Lusty, Texas #42) by Cara Covington
Ride Out the Storm (SSI #6.5) by Monette Michaels
Wild and Loving (Slick Rock #33) by Becca Van
Finish up the Clinical Research Coalition program, the writing/editing assignments for the MWO group, and the first two modules of the Regulatory Affairs Council program; I did finish the Clinical Research Coalition program, and am in the process of writing up a review on it, plus the things I may need to brush up on (learn), if I decide that this is a direction I may want to go in. In terms of the other parts to this goal–I’m still working on the writing/editing assignments, and I didn’t get around to watching any of the videos for the first two modules of the regulatory affairs council program.
No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month; Still fell short of a totally limited spending month, I would say that it was on par for March in terms of spending. There will be more on this when I do my monthly check-in on the spending challenge (post will probably be posted either tomorrow or Thursday).
Time outdoors & meditation/sitting quietly; I’ve been getting better at my evening meditations, I think I only talked myself out of it once or twice this month. It was a soggy month (especially mid-month), that limited the amount of time spent outdoors. But when I could spend time outdoors I did.
Craft time (design/make 1 necklace/bracelet set); Well, I didn’t ‘sit’ down for craft time this month. I was outside more with the camera (on the days that permitted it).
Finish (or start) at least two other e-courses: So, this didn’t happen. I didn’t start or finish any e-course (other than the Clinical Research Coalition program) during May.
Manage at least 30-45 minutes a day of Spanish: So this is something else that I didn’t get accomplished during May. While I’m trying to get better at time (and project) management, I never seemed to figure out the best time of day for refreshing Spanish. I also realized that I should probably have started with a lower ‘aim’ of 30-45 minutes, 2-to-3 days a week (instead of aiming for everyday).
Activate the time management app: Self Control; I did manage to activate the time management app, Self Control this month. This is an app, where you add in the websites you want to stay off of, the amount of time to stay off of them, and then you hit start.
The pros: you can adjust the time and list from day-to-day. The only ‘con’ is you have to turn on the app every day (there isn’t a setting for setting which days you want it to be active). Plus (this can be a pro or con depending on your viewpoint), it stays active even if you have to reset your computer (which I’ve had to do a couple of times).
But I do think that I managed to get a little more accomplished this month once I got over my ‘fear’ of using the app, instead of aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or shopping on Amazon.
So I think I managed to meet about half the goals (in some form), and I realized having 3 goals that require a good amount of time on the computer daily was being a little ambitious, and at times has been probably a reason for one or two (possibly all three) not getting fully accomplished. Going between different genera for reading is ‘easier’ than mentally ‘switching gears’ in terms of concentration and note-taking (at least for me at times).
I had posted earlier that I created a board game to help me stretch the comfort zone and also limit the indecision on what to do next–it would simply be a roll of the dice, and if I wanted to ‘skip’ the square, answering a few questions. So far, the game has allowed me to get two non-fiction books read (yep, prior to the game I was once again bouncing between non-fiction and fiction books), and finishing up the clinical research coalition program.
I also decided yesterday that I would create a few more ‘trackers’ for tracking professional development ‘social media’ interactions, as I have a bad habit of lurking or not getting on social media for extended periods of time (due to anxiety), and I’m hoping that this helps me deal with said anxiety issues.
So in addition to what I will be trying to track for professional development, the other goals for June will include:
At least 130-150,000 steps; we’re basically in summer, so hopefully will be able to get up to Boomer Lake at least once a week
Continue with LIIFT4 (mainly the lifting portion, HIIT/core if I feel like it)
Read at least one non-fiction book and post the review (more if I land on another ‘read’ square)
Read at least 2 fiction books (and post reviews)
Start (and probably finish) the Intellectual Property Pack course, and work on the writing/editing assignments for the MWO group
No spend days/No spend weeks/Limited spending month; honor the limited spending challenge
Time outdoors and meditation/sitting quietly
Start (and possibly finish) at least one other e-course (take good notes)
Craft time (doodle a cross-stitch design, design a necklace/bracelet set, more photography)
The goals are more or less the same as last month (just changing the name of the workout program and at least one of the e-courses), but that is how they become habit–you keep doing them until you’re no longer really thinking about doing them–you just do them. Then you can go to ‘new goals’, and keep repeating those, and on and on.
Besides trying to make sure that I ‘succeed’ at reaching the goals for June–my ‘biggest’ goal will actually be feeling like I was productive and not just sitting around ‘wishing’ for things to go a certain way, but actually brainstorming and working towards those ‘wishes/goals’. With thinking of joining the ‘online’ space as a freelance writer/proofreader/editor/data analyst/project manager/photographer–I’m going to have to figure out ways of ‘sticking out’–which means determining the category/subjects/niches for at least writer/proofreader/editor/data analyst/project manager portion, since I’m pretty sure I’ll be sticking with nature (and pet) photography for awhile.
I’m going to remind myself daily of one of the quotes that I picked for 2021: “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one”, plus the words: growth, creativity, and curiosity.
What science (or possibly history) topics do you either find interesting or confusing (or both)???
The pages for the order and family are ‘short’ (less than 300 words), and I decided that I could add more information and update the pages throughout the year. I figured that it was more important in actually getting the pages ‘up’ than having a ‘perfect’ page–I’m slowly getting better at the whole progress over perfection.
Of the 138 species that make up the family Rallidae, nine can be found within the United States. Though spotting roughly a little over half of them (five of the nine species are rails) will take quite a bit of patience on my part (it is easier to spot a coot, gallinule, or crake than it is to spot a rail). Of the remaining forty-five percent (four of the nine species)–I’ve managed to spot two: teh American coot (which is present at Boomer Lake, basically every winter), and the common gallinule (which I saw on a trip down to South Padre Island, Texas years ago).
It always amazes me when I see the coots out on Boomer Lake and I remember that they aren’t ducks, but members of the rail family (since they swim and occasionally ‘dabble’ like ducks), but once you see their yellow-green legs and lobbed toes, you realize you’re not looking at a duck.
If I want to try to spot the purple gallinule, that will require another trip to the gulf coast or Caribbean. Spotting the sora might be as difficult as spotting a rail (they’re not quite as secretive but pretty close), though they are a migratory species through Oklahoma–so I might be able to spot them close to the banks of either Boomer Lake or possibly Sanborn Lake this fall (if I’m willing to be closer to the ‘weeds’).
As I mentioned on the various pages in terms of the photography goals: overall I would like to get a picture of a member of each family (and for the Rallidae family–a picture of the other North American species, plus a picture of one on each of the other continents), and possibly a picture of one grazing with the young or possibly trying to take off in flight.
Next up in terms of bird pages will be either the order/family/species for the cormorant and freightbird, or the mourning dove and rock dove (feral pigeon).
Have you managed to see a rail in the wild? If so–where were you, and how long did you have to wait for it to come out of the thicket?
So on one of my morning walks at Boomer Lake, I decided to check out the creek side of the lake (this is the area that is heavily wooded, and to get around you’re either walking through the woods or you’re out in a boat or kayak).
Walking to the ‘boat loading’ site, I decided to check on the one dead cottonwood tree, that I had spotted the pileated woodpecker on in the past.
Instead of seeing the pileated woodpecker or even a songbird or two–I managed to get several pictures of a northern flicker sticking its head out of one of the holes.
So now the question is–did the northern flicker take over the old roost of the pileated woodpecker, or was it just ‘checking’ out the neighborhood?
I realize that I may (or may not) spot a woodpecker on the tree during all of my walks, but it will be a spot that I try to check as often as possible throughout the summer to see if there it becomes a northern flicker nest, or if the pileated woodpecker is back looking for carpenter ants or termites.
Did you know that northern flickers tend to hunt for their prey on the ground–they go after ants for the most part, though they will also go after some flying insects as well (such as flies, butterflies, and moths).
Getting these pictures of the northern flicker poking its head out of a (possible) nesting site meets a partial overall woodpecker photography goal (getting pictures of them near their nesting sites), though the main two northern flicker photography goals are still getting one of them hunting ants, and then catching a butterfly or moth in the air.
Have you seen any woodpeckers this year? What’s your favorite woodpecker?
So on my walk at Boomer Lake today I managed to spot the ‘secretive’ green heron.
The green heron is a migratory bird that spends its summers in Oklahoma, and we’re lucky enough that there is usually a mating pair in town. Due to the start of the pandemic last year, I didn’t get in many walks at Boomer Lake during the summertime so I missed trying to get a picture of them last year.
I wasn’t expecting to see the green heron this morning–mainly because I was out ‘late’ (i.e. well after dawn), and usually these birds are roosting/hunting in the brush around the lake edges.
I was passing the area of the lake, that a birding expert refers to as ‘heron cove’ and noticed the green heron perched on a branch over the water cleaning its feathers.
I tried to move down the hill quietly so that I could possibly get a closer picture, and while I did get a little closer–I’m not sure if the pictures give it justice or not.
Within the picture series, I also noticed that I managed to get a picture of several red-eared sliders and a grackle. I’m thnking that I may try to explore a little more of the wooded areas around the lake to see if I can possibly spot the black-crowned night heron again, and possibly even the belted kingfisher. As all three of these birds are usually more ‘morning’ birds (best seen usually close to dawn), though I have managed to spot them later in the morning.
Bird watching and photography are two of the things I enjoy doing during nice weather. What hobbies do you enjoy doing durin ghte nice weather?
So I’ve realized that the photography challenge is going to be sporadic this year–I’m aiming for new photographs at least 90% of the time, and the other 10% will be older pictures, but on specific days (such as #waybackwednesdays, #throwbackthursday, or #flashbackfriday). It will be a sporadic challenge, as I am also trying to vary the photograph subjects as much as possible. Since May is also National Photography Month, I was aiming for daily photograph postings–but will be going with at least weekly entries.
The winner for the challenge today was a redheaded woodpecker that I spotted up at Boomer Lake at the end of April. While I know that they’re in the area–I don’t go specifically looking for them, as I tend to avoid walking through heavily wooded areas (I’ve developed an allergic reaction to ticks, so I try to avoid the areas where I know that I could come across them).
The redheaded woodpecker flew over my head and landed on the light post. Since it was a beautifully sunny morning (unlike the last time I got a photography of one), I managed to get a picture of it in all it’s redheaded glory. This woodpecker is named ‘redheaded’ because it has a totally red head–unlike the red-bellied woodpecker, which only has a pale red spot on it’s belly, but a red stripe down the back of its head.
I actually had my longer telephoto lens with me that day (but no tripod), but by the time I got the lens on the camera, the woodpecker had flown off. I’ll be keeping my eye on the various light posts, which seem to be landing spots for various birds (possibly to eat their snack or meal), and then the tops of dead trees (since that is where I spotted the first one a couple of years ago).
I’m also keeping my eye out for the hairy woodpeckers as well–they’re similar in shape, size, and coloring to the downy woodpecker. Therefore I may already have a picture or two–just in the wrong bird folder. I think that if one chore this summer–make sure that all pictures are correctly labeled for the various woodpecker species.