Thursday, October 17, 2019

FENCES AROUND THE WORLD

We saw these fences one day when we were driving in the Virginia Countryside.



If you would like to see other fences, or join in with your own, you can go here.  Thank you for hosting Gosia!  

And thank you for visiting everyone.  
Have a great weekend!  



GULLS AND DUCK...

...the 'Duck' being the town of Duck, North Carolina, in the Outer Banks.  

Here are two maps showing its location.
I am continuing our walk along the boardwalk from several posts ago.  At one point there was a small docking area where gulls were resting.  I am always drawn to gulls.


Every time I see one now, I am reminded of a man I met who gave nature talks on gulls.  My whole life I had called them seagulls.  When we were looking at one such 'seagull', he told me that there are no 'seagulls', just gulls.  He seemed to know what he was talking about so I took him at his word...
and yet everywhere I go on the internet, they are known as 'Seagulls", even by Ogden Nash in one of his short poems.
The Sea-Gull
by Ogden Nash

Hark to the whimper of the sea-gull;
He weeps because he is not an ea-gull.
Suppose you were, you silly sea-gull.
Could you explain it to your she-gull?

I know they are not the most popular bird with some, but I have always loved them.  My experiences have never been as some I have heard, and I have read some real horror stories out there.  However, my whole life I remember them fondly,  so I suppose this is why I enjoy them on the rare occasion we are in each other's company.

"Seagulls...slim yachts of the element."
~Robinson Jeffers~ 

And here are some facts I found.

There are approximately 50 species of gulls found throughout the world.

Their lifespan depends on the species.  Most gulls have a lifespan from 10 to 15 years in the wild.

Gulls live in colonies that consist of few pairs of birds, or a couple of thousand birds.

Gulls are monogamous that mate for life.

They are devoted to their chicks and co-parent.
Most gulls breed once a year and have predictable breeding seasons lasting for three to five months.

Nest building is also part of the pair-bonding.  Most species of gull build their nests on the ground, while other species build their nests on elevated areas, such as cliffs or trees.

The clutch size is generally three eggs.

Both male and female take turns incubating eggs, with incubation lasting 26 days.

Young chicks are brooded by their parents for about one or two weeks, and often at least one parent remains with them until they fledge, to guard them.

Both parents feed the chicks, although early on in the rearing period, the male does most of the feeding and the female most of the brooding and guarding.

They can drink fresh water or salt water, though they prefer fresh.

That being said, being marine birds, gulls are often far from sources of fresh water.  Because of this they have special bill adaptations that allow them to filter the salt out of the water and make it drinkable.

Case in point, many of the world's species of gulls are the type we see all the time and display normal behavior, but there are also many who have evolved to suit their environs.  The lava gull for instance has adapted to volcanic islands and is black from bill to wingtip.  The swallow-tailed gull, native to the Galapagos Islands, is actually nocturnal, and specializes in hunting squid, swooping down in the moonlight to capture its prey.

Seagulls have existed on the earth for at least 30 to 33 million years.

In many cultures, seagulls are symbolic of freedom, versatility and a carefree lifestyle.

All gulls belong to the Laridae bird family, along with terns, kittiwakes, skimmers and noddies.  Noddies?  Click here to find out what those are.

And bingo!  This next bit refers to what I mentioned at the beginning of my post.  Despite the universal use of the general term "seagull" these birds are not associated just with pelagic, marine or coastal environments, and in fact there are no birds officially named seagulls.

At least one species is found on every continent, including Antarctica, and many gulls have widespread ranges that make them familiar to birders from vastly different regions.  This makes gulls one of the most widespread families of birds in the world.

A flock of gulls is called a colony, squabble, flotilla or scavenging.

Gulls are opportunistic feeders and yes, they will swoop down and steal a bag of fish and chips right out of your hands, and anything else they can get a hold of in the way of food.  I've never actually experienced this but have seen on several occasions people voluntarily feeding them for the fun of it, to watch them descending by the dozens.  When we were little and on holiday in a caravan (camping trailer to us over here), my father would open the small window in the roof and feed the gulls stale bread, and we delighted in feeling them peck our fingers as a whole flock grabbed all the bread they could before it ran out. Amazingly they never drew blood, and whether this was due to fast reflexes I don't remember.  I might add that I learned long ago now, that to feed any wildlife human food is most definitely not what we should do, however tempting.  It can be harmful to them, and to us, for so many reasons.

As far as gulls go, the California gull is quite smart.  Unlike many gulls, this species favors inland environments for nesting, and often migrate through farmland.  In these environments, insects are a preferred diet of choice.  Which leads to the following.

The California gull (Larus californicus) is the State Bird of Utah.  Not only is this the only gull to be an officially designated state bird, but it is also the only bird to be a symbolic icon for one state even though it is named after another state.  The reason is that in 1848 a great crop of gulls once saved the people of Utah by eating up hordes of crickets that were destroying the crops.  All day long they ate the crickets, and kept eating until these insects were gone, and then they returned to the lake islands from where they originated.  And the people of Utah were saved.  What a wonderful way to become a State Bird.

The Seagull Monument on Temple Square in Salt Lake City honors the gull.  Two sculptured gulls stand atop the monument which was unveiled in 1913.  Mahonri MacKintosh Young sculpted the monument.

The size of a gull varies widely.  The little gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus) is the smallest at just 11-12 inches long, a wingspan of 24 inches, and weighing just 3-4 ounces.  The Great black-backed gull (Larus marinus) is the largest gull at 28-30 inches long, with a 60-inch wing span and a weight of 3-4 pounds.

The smallest gull species in most of North America is a small bird with a black head, white body and red bill and legs.  It is called the Bonaparte's gull, named after Charles Lucien Bonaparte, the illegitimate cousin of Napoleon Bonaparte.  I have no idea how that came about but this History site tells us how many family members of Napoleon ended up in America.  And isn't it interesting how research on Gulls can send you in so many different directions?  Well, learning is fun, and I have had fun doing this post.
I bounced all over the internet last night, from one website to another.  Unfortunately I wasn't very careful taking note of their addresses, even though I was fascinated with all these facts I was reading.  I was up late and though my fingers were moving fast, my brain wasn't quite on the same pace.  That's the way I roll on a sleepless night at three in the morning.  I got caught up in the enjoyment of finding all about one of my favorite critters, and I didn't realize how late it.  I am having an early night!

So, I hope you've enjoyed all these interesting facts, and my apologies if it is a bit too long.  I wanted to get everything on record so that I could go back whenever I wanted, to re-read and maybe do more research while remembering to make a note of where I got my information from.  From childhood I have always had a curious mind on just about everything.



Wednesday, October 16, 2019

PUMPKINS AND MUMS AND DONATING HALLOWEEN CANDY


At this time of the year when we are transitioning into Fall and the days are getting cooler, I enjoy going grocery shopping to see what seasonal goodies are on sale.  

There were the pottery pumpkins in the same style I remember from last year. And then something new, painted pumpkins.  Not sure about these but everyone has different tastes and as my old Mum used to say to me, it would be a boring old world if we were all the same. Also maybe they were done with little kids in mind.

These are for cooking.

They were all very festive.

I enjoyed looking at the big pots of mums on sale.  These I do love with their pretty contrasting colors.





With Halloween coming up it will soon be time to start getting that candy in.  If you have any leftovers or would like to donate now, this link will show you how you can give your leftovers to our troops, veterans and first responders. The organizers ask that it be sent no later than November 8th if you are going to participate.  



Monday, October 14, 2019

AN OLD FAMILY PHOTO

Thanks to Gregg's genealogy hobby, he found this old photo of my father's side of our family.  
Usually in these old photos people don't smile this much, but everyone here is either smiling or laughing.  After a minute or two I find myself smiling as I study all their faces.  It's not that nothing bad ever happened.  This was taken post WWII and I remember stories of people lost during the war and the hardships experienced back home, serious illnesses for some. But here I am looking at this wonderful family, and smiling at all those lovely faces.  Such a joyful photo!

As was the way back in those days as many of you will remember, there were no TV's and we entertained ourselves by listening to each other.  From childhood I remember sitting on the floor cross-legged, loving the tales that were told, and some were pretty darned funny.  And then there were the sing-songs.  My Dad played the piano and we would all gather around and sing.  We didn’t care if anyone sang out of tune, we didn’t even notice.  Family coming and going, the kettle always whistling and the tea always brewing. We entertained ourselves by telling stories of real-life experiences. I still to this day would rather listen to a good story than watch a TV show or a movie.  

And here I am looking at this lovely photo wondering what had been said to tickle everyone's funny bone, from the oldest member of the family to the youngest.  Several seemed to be looking in the direction of the young lady on the left, middle row.  My great-uncle is just to the left of center, with his hand up to the side of his head.  

Do you have your own memories of how your family entertained themselves?  I would love to hear about them. 




Sunday, October 13, 2019

MONDAY RECIPE POST - TERIYAKI SALMON

Today's recipe was found at the Food Network and if you click on the red lettering it will take you to the original recipe.  

Teriyaki Salmon - 6 servings

For the Teriyaki Sauce:

10 ozs. soy sauce
10 ozs. mirin
8 ozs. sake
3 ozs. sugar

For the salmon:

4 salmon filets
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon potato flour or cornstarch
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 spring onion, chopped (use the green part only)

For the teriyaki sauce: combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar in a bowl.  

Add this mixture to a large, non-stick skillet and bring to a slight simmer over medium heat, stirring gently until the sugar dissolves.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl.  Set aside to let cool.  

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel.

For the salmon: sprinkle each filet with salt and pepper.  Put the tablespoon of potato starch or cornflower into a bowl, and season with salt and pepper.

Lightly dust each filet with the seasoned potato start or cornflower.  Shake off any excess.

Set a skillet over high heat until hot and then add the oil.

Add the salmon and fry each side until golden brown all over, about 3 to 4 minutes total.  

Remove and put on a plate.  Set aside.

Add 1/2 cup of the teriyaki sauce to the skillet (transfer any remaining sauce to an airtight container.  Place in the fridge.  It will last for three weeks).

Bring the sauce in the skillet to a boil over medium heat, then immediately reduce the heat and bring to a simmer.

Cook until the sauce is reduced in half.  

Return the salmon to the skillet for just enough time that it is heated through.

Turn off the heat and spoon sauce over the salmon.  
Serve with the chopped green onions sprinkled over the top.
This dish was an experiment for us.  Whenever we have used teriyaki it has come out of a bottle bought at the supermarket.  This was the first time we have made one from scratch.  We were very happy with it.  I'm not saying that we won't ever go back to the supermarket, but it was delicious.  A  little on the salty side perhaps for those who are watching their salt intake, and most of us are these days.  We said we would try low-sodium soy sauce next time.  We just have to remember a little goes a long way, mistakenly thinking that 1/2 cup wasn't enough but it certainly was.
We served this salmon dish with Jasmine Rice and stir-fried vegetables of choice.  Those two dishes need to be started ahead of the Teriyaki Salmon as it cooked in no time at all.
Something to remember next time.  The onions were sliced and both green and white parts were used.  I will just use the green next time as suggested in the original recipe.  These spring onions were also on the large side and aesthetically, chopped ones would have been more pleasing to look at, but then maybe I am being just a bit picky. 

Thank you everyone!  Have a great day and Bon App├ętit!



Friday, October 11, 2019

FENCES AROUND THE WORLD

My contribution to this weeks Fences Around the World is from Meadowlark Gardens.  It is a favorite place of ours for a walk, as I've mentioned many times in other posts.  

 I took these photos near the visitor center.  There is a patio area on one side. 
A lovely place to rest after walking up the hill from the lake area.
There are lots of flowers and plants on the patio, not only in the flower beds leading up to it, but in large planters and...
also hanging on a trellis fence.
There were still many flowers blooming, but temperatures will be dropping soon (today's visit to the garden was on October 2nd, 2018).
I see the English Ivy trailing over the planter above.  Do you know what that yellow bloom is?  The others I am not sure about either.

This is the Common coleus, also known as Painted Nettle.

If you would like to see other fences, or join in with your own, you can go here.  Thank you for hosting Gosia!  

And thank you for visiting everyone.  
Have a great weekend!  



Wednesday, October 9, 2019

FAIRY GARDEN AT MEADOWLARK


This will probably be my last visit to the Fairy Garden in 2019, as the fairies will be going deep underground to hibernate over the colder months.  I will look forward to seeing them again next Spring. Today I was happy to be in their company, as they were all reciting Fairy Poetry and I do love poetry.

"When the winds of March are 
Wakening the crocuses and crickets, 
Did you ever find a fairy 
Near some budding little thickets?
And when she sees you creeping up 
To get a closer peek
She tumbles through the daffodils, 
A playing hide and seek."
~Marjorie Barrows~

"Oh, where do fairies hide their heads,
When snow lies on the hills,
When frost has spoiled their mossy beds, And crystallized their rills?" 
~Thomas Haynes Bayly~

"The fairy poet takes a sheet 
Of moonbeam, silver white.
His ink is dew from daisies sweet,
His pen a point of light."
~Joyce Kilmer~
"The wall is silence, the grass is sleep,
Tall trees of silence their vigil keep,
And the fairy of dreams with moth-furled wings
Plays soft on her flute to the drowsy world."
~Ida Renoul Outhwaite~

"And as the seasons come and go, 
Here's something you might like to know.
There are fairies everywhere, under bushes, in the air,
Playing games just like you play, singing through their busy day.
So listen, touch and look around, in the air and on the ground.  
And if you watch all nature's things, you
Might just see a fairy's wing."

~Author Unknown~
"A rustle in the wind reminds us a fairy is near."
~Author Unknown~"O give me the ears of a fairy  to hear the trees growing.  The greeting of ants and of earwigs, to hearken the lowing of tiny green cattle in grass woods, where wee winds are blowing.
~Author Unknown~So let us be sweet, let us be kind
say nicely goodbye and leave behind
the magical place of Fairyland
but, don’t be sad for it will be
right here waiting for you and for me
~Author Unknown~

See you next Spring!
Have a very happy day and thanks for coming with me to the Fairy Garden.