Friday, January 31, 2014

CAMERA CRITTERS, SATURDAY'S CRITTERS AND BIRD D'POT

I am joining Misty's Camera Critters, Eileen's Saturday's Critters, and Anni's Bird D'Pot.  Thank you for hosting these great memes ladies.


We were at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center today and I took a video.  If you have trouble watching it you can see it at this link. 
Don't forget to click on the little square on the bottom right to enlarge it.


Birds at the center are being taken care of because they get injured and cannot survive in the wild.  Those that are released still come back for feeding time, and bring a lot of friends with them apparently.

If you would like to learn more about this wonderful bird center, you can click here.

This is a great place to get up close and personal with these wonderful birds.  It was very entertaining to be able to get right next to them.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Skywatch Friday January 30, 2014 Edition

We took these photos at Henderson Beach, Destin, Florida.












My thanks to the SkyWatch Team, YogiSandy and Sylvia,  for hosting this wonderful meme.

Please click here to visit other sky watchers.


Happy SkyWatch Friday!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wild Bird Wednesday

Okay, not everyone's cup of tea but here we were driving down one of the back roads (we are heading towards Key West) and we came across this handsome fellow standing on a fence post and stretching its wings.  


When vultures stretch their wings out they use the sun to repair damaged feathers, raise body temperature and dry flight feathers after wet weather.  It rained heavily today but for a little while the sun came out.   We found him and about 30 or so of his family members in the field just beyond him doing the same thing.  It was a sight to behold as they all looked like they were about to perform Swan Lake.  We had driven by this spectacle and I think my mouth dropped open and I swiveled my neck around to make sure I had seen what I had just seen.  As it was a quiet road and there were no other cars in sight, I asked Gregg first if he had seen that, he had and before I could ask he reversed until we arrived opposite the Black Vulture Ballet.  This one eyed us warily but it did not stop him from enjoying the sunshine.

When morning temperatures warm up and thermals begin to form, turkey vultures begin to leave their roost individually.  Most black vultures wait about an hour longer than the turkey vulture before leaving their roost.  The late departure of black vultures is due to having a heavier wing load and waiting for stronger thermals to stay aloft.  When the thermals are right, they will begin to leave their roost in groups. 

As I said in the beginning of my post these extraordinary birds are not everyone's cup of tea, but are another species of bird that I have always been fascinated with.  When you put it in the context that they are nature's clean-up crew and that they play an important role in our world, maybe you will think a little differently of them.  They help to clean up our environment and could prevent the spread of certain diseases.  So, in my opinion I think they have been much maligned and deserve to be thought of more fondly.  Okay, maybe you think I am stretching that one a little too far, at least with less distaste, how's that?

You can find out more about them here.

I will be linking up with Stewart's Wild Bird Wednesday.  Thank you for hosting Stewart, I am always happy to have a bird photo to share with this lovely meme.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

More photos from The US Botanic Garden in Washington DC

This is a post from before we left for our trip, and as we got to the hotel pretty late tonight and it has been a long, albeit enjoyable day, I am sharing what I put together before we left home.

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I was looking forward to seeing a few of the holiday decorations but we were too late this year.  Fortunately we live close enough that we can look forward to seeing them next December.  


Still, there were a lot of lovely things to please the eye, like these topiaries of bears.





This is in the Conservatory where I photographed the murals from a previous post.  You can just see a couple almost out of sight on the left-hand side.


We have been coming to this botanic garden ever since we have lived in home, almost 22 years.  We are only 25 miles out of Washington DC.   We used to ride our bikes for miles around all the monuments, and rode all the available bike paths when we first got married.  We started married life just outside of the city.  Gregg is talking about us getting a couple of bikes in the not too distant future.  I told him he had better get one of those electrical assist ones for me.  Good exercise yes, but well, you know.....63 year old knees ain't what they used to be Darling!


Here's Gregg making his way towards me.  Gully and Celia are somewhere around here.  


There they are!  I just thought this was such a cute picture of them.  Gregg took it.


I enjoyed the light fixtures, they were like upside down tulips, in all different colors.
 




From the conservatory you walk through into the jungle and in there it's not just the flowers that I find fascinating, these leaves were so interesting.








Here are more topiaries, a cute frog.....





a turtle.....


and to be perfectly honest I couldn't quite make out what this one was supposed to be.  Not a bear, a squirrel maybe but there was no bushy tail.  Some things are left a mystery for those who need to get a stronger eye subscription, yes that would be me.


There were planters full of fruit, oranges for one and grapefruit as shown here.


There are always orchids which I have already shared in other posts.


And here's another shot of the cacao tree.  Isn't it amazing that this is where chocolate comes from?


That's about it from the botanic garden but I do have a few flowers left that I am keeping for my Today's Flowers Meme sometime.

NATURE NOTES

Right now we are in Florida road-tripping  We were in Destin for a couple of days which is along the panhandle, and now we're heading south.  I'll be posting those photos at another time but because I wanted to join in Michelle's Nature Notes, I thought I would share this wonderful experience we had today.   


We recently found out about Fanning Springs State Park and were only there for a couple of hours.  I can't tell you much about the place except for an initial impression of trees laden with Spanish Moss.  When you haven't seen it before it makes those trees look like they have been all decked out in their Sunday Best. The sun was warm - something I have missed of late - and it was a balmy 72 degrees.   


When we stopped at the entrance the lady didn't sound too hopeful about us seeing any Manatees, which is why we were there in the first place.  She told us when she checked earlier that there were no Manatees in the springs.  We decided to walk down anyhow, at the same time keeping our expectations low while enjoying our surroundings, and it sure was peaceful there.  
  

Much to our delight we had a wonderful surprise as the first thing we saw, just underneath the surface of the water, was a Manatee.  We were joined by a small group of people, one of whom told us that they hadn't long ago seen one twice as big, and that this 'little guy' must have been not much older than a calf.


These magnificent aquatic marine animals roam the waters of southeast Florida from April to October, but then they head to places such as Fanning Springs where the water remains at a constant 70 degrees all year round.  This temperature may seem too cold for humans, but for Manatees it is warm enough for them to survive the winter.  You can read all about the park here.


Female Manatees are referred to as Sea Cows.  Babies are called Calves.  



A few interesting facts about Manatees are:

Manatees are marine mammals and breath air through their nostrils.

They belong to an order of marine mammals called the "Sirenians".  Dugongs are the other member of the family.  Stellar sea cows were also a member of this family, but they were hunted to extinction within 27 years of their discovery.

Manatees can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.

Their closest modern relative is the elephant.  Evidence of this relationship is easy to spot - both animals have three to four fingernails.

Manatees are typically pretty slow, but can swim up to 20 mph.

There are four species of manatees: the West Indian Manatee, the Florida Manatee (technically a subspecies of the West Indian species), the Amazonian Manatee and the West African Manatee.

Manatees are credited for being the basis of the mermaid legend.  If you click here you can see how that came about.

Manatees are herbivores.

They can live up to 60 years old.

They have no natural predators but, they are in peril and endangered.

I found the above facts here.


If you want to learn more about the Manatee you can go here.


It was at times very hard to make him out as the reflections on the water were powerful, but after awhile his head popped up almost as if he was staring in our direction, and he slowly made his way right next to us.  We watched as he swam under the walkway out towards the open area beyond.


There he goes and that is my reflection in the same photo.


He is out there somewhere.  Of course he could be a she. 



These beautiful marine animals are endangered.  You can read how we humans can help to protect them here.

This lady we spoke to originally was so nice and made us chuckle.  She looked at all the pillows fluffed up in the backseat, along with Mrs. Brown's blanket, smiled and called us "Weary Travelers."

Thank you  for hosting this lovely meme Michelle.
Please visit other Nature Notes lovers here.



Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Krispy-Kreme Cruiser

We are road-tripping again and a fun thing we saw a couple of days ago was The Krispy Kreme Cruiser.  Can't remember the exact locale but we had gone through Atlanta and hadn't yet crossed into Alabama.   As we approached we recognized an old bus and were remarking on its lines and how regal looking the old buses, in fact most old cars all seemed to be.


As we got closer we could see the advertising on the side.  This is our all-time favorite doughnut.  Gregg has known them since he was a little boy and he introduced me to them when we got married.  No danger of us getting anything other than the occasional treat.  We have none of their shops in our vicinity.  Good job I guess.


We usually have to wait until we go to one of our favorite parks in Alexandria to find a shop a couple of miles away, which we visit a couple of times a year, or when we go to Virginia Beach.  But here we were traveling along and we overtake the Krispy-Kreme Cruiser.  I wish we could have flagged it down.  We had skipped breakfast and it was way, way past lunchtime.


We sadly said goodbye as it disappeared in our rear-view mirror.


We have a hankering for Krispy-Kreme Doughnuts, but Siri says "I couldn't find any restaurants matching  Krispy-Kreme Doughnuts near you."  Instead we are heading to Johnson's Bakery for breakfast tomorrow.  She tells us they sell doughnuts!

The Krispy-Kreme Cruiser has a website.  You can check them out here.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

TODAY'S FLOWERS #281 - January 25th, 2013

The link to Today's Flowers on the home page opens at 12.15 a.m. every Saturday, Eastern Time (US).  The old link will close the previous Thursday at 11.30 P.M.

To see beautiful blooms from around the world you can click here.

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Not having the chance to see a banana plant too often, I was fascinated by the flower growing down from this one at the US Botanic Garden in Washington DC.









I found the following illustration on line, and if you would like to learn more on banana plants, you can click here.






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I would like to thank last week's participants by sharing their links here.  Your names appear as they do on the Today's Flowers home page and are not in alphabetical order.  If you share more than one photo I will repeat your blog address and name if provided.

My World Through My Eyes
Laura, Canada

Trini Garden

Mystic Dreamer, San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago


NRW, Germany

Mystic Dreamer, Trinidad and Tobago

Daniela, Ohio, USA

Kezzela2
Sandy, Florida, USA

Love That Image

Sara, Seattle, USA

Kissed by an Angel


Steve Borichevsky's Shooting My Universe

Massachusetts, USA

Love That Image

Sara, Seattle, USA

IShare

Indrani, India

Mary in Austria



Chris-June's Kreativewerkstatt
Germany

My World Through My Lens
Laura, Canada

Blommor och sant i foto
Meta, Sweden

Seraphina's Imagination
Leipzig, Saxony, Germany

Descopera Targovistea cu mine
Ileana from Romania

Norrbotten, Sweden

Starry Universe
Ruby (Forest Dream Weaver), Scotland

Jardins-Parcs-Paisatges-Muntanyes-Ciutats
Xavi, Barcelona, Catalunya

Enerhagen
Jannibele, Oslo, Norway

Garden Delights
Arija, Australia

Women's Perspective
Lina, Bogor, Indonesia

From My Horizon
Christina, Sweden


gbkoru
Gunilla from Finland

Minoru's Photo Diary
Japan

The Road to Here

Squirrel Queen, Washington State, USA

Love That Image
Sara, Seattle, USA



Jocee's Farm
New Zealand

  
If I have missed out anyone's name please let me know, or if you have any suggestions to improve the blog, they would be very welcome.

Thank you my friends and have a great week ahead.

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Today's Flowers was created by our good friend Luiz Santilli, Jr.




TF teamPupo - Sandy Carlson - Denise

If anyone would like to be a guest friend and share photos on our home page, details can be found at the top of Today's Flowers web site, which you will find here.
   

Friday, January 24, 2014

CAMERA CRITTERS, BIRD D'POT AND SATURDAY'S CRITTERS.

I am joining Misty's Camera Critters, and because I actually got some bird photos today, Anni's Bird D'Pot and Eileen's Saturday's Critters.  Thank you for hosting these great memes ladies.

The male Housefinches found the new bird feeder to their liking.


I think he is telling me in this photo that it is about time to fill the feeder again.


and can I do something about the weather?


No can do, sorry!


Really?  I said I was sorry!


Never mind dear, at least you've got some nice bird food.


Soon joined by a family member, and later several others but by that time I didn't have the camera in hand.


Have a great day everyone, I hope the weather is nice in your part of the world.