Saturday, July 30, 2022


"And maybe some hand lotion?  All this swimming has really done a number on my hands."

It's been so hot the birds have been scarce, especially as I put the bird feeders away for the hot summer months.  They will be over later when the sun starts going down, to drink from the water bowl I put out.  I still have loads of photos to share of our chatty birds, but I didn't have time to put a post together. They will be back next weekend.

As for our alligator friend above, I have shared it before.  It was taken in the Everglades back in 2014, and as I reshared another post from there yesterday and for those who may remember it from before, I hope you won't mind another repeat.  I will be transferring an old post at least once a week for a while.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, July 29, 2022


At least one day a week for a while, I thought I would share old road trips we have taken over the years.  This one was back in 2014.  We went to Florida, to the Everglades.  I have never seen so many alligators in my life, to the point that I was more than a little leery. Most of the time we were looking down at them, but a few had made it to the pathways where we walked.  I don't ever remember their number, a lot more than the previous trip we made a few years before, it seemed to me anyhow.  

They seemed to be thriving.
It is around this time that they start looking for mates.  The sounds they were making were surreal.   What we at first thought all those years ago as very loud frogs, were in fact the sound of alligators calling to each other, and it was loud!  We heard similar sounds on this visit, though they weren't quite as noisy.  
I was startled to find a couple of alligators right next to the trail we were walking on.
They were on either side.  You really had to be aware of your surroundings.
Do you see the Great Blue Heron on the left of the picture below?

We saw this large group at the end of one of the boardwalks.  We were a lot higher than this looks.  
A few of the tourists were getting too close to get a photo op in my humble opinion.   I came across a man whom I thought was very unwise.  He was asking his wife to take photographs of him with their two young children by one of the alligators right next to the trail.  The three of them were hunched down to get the alligator in view.  I couldn't hear what the mother was saying, but I could tell by her expression and the sound of her voice that she wasn't happy, and in the meantime he was telling her to take the photo, which she quickly did. Later as she and I were walking towards each other along the same path, we were passing the spot where the two alligators were on each side.  We both were 'tight-rope' walking in the middle of the path, and as we looked at each other while keeping an eye on the alligators, in the universal language of the eye-roll which spoke volumes, we smiled and laughed nervously as we passed one another, and then walked on in the opposite direction.  
They are wonderful creatures, however, and it was awesome seeing them in their own natural habitat. You just have to be sensible and treat them with the utmost respect.  
As I walked by this big fellow I remembered the Ranger right next to us, telling someone that they aren't as slow as they look, they can run 20 miles per hour on land.  
So, it is important not to take them for granted.  Sleepy they may look but not really.   You just have to use your common sense.  Many of these photos were taken with a zoom lens.  I was not as close as it looks.
We did, however, have a tremendous time making our way along the Anhinga Trail, and then walking along the boardwalk.  They are an incredible sight to see.  
On reflection, if I saw an alligator at the side of the trail like we did, I would head in the opposite direction.  I can't move that fast these days.  Frankly and you may think I am being overly cautious when I say this, I wouldn't want to take very young children here, no energetic toddlers who feel the need to run.  I did see 12-13 year olds, being escorted by Park Rangers.  These alligators all seemed as though they were resting or sleeping ....
but several had their eyes open, and seemed as interested in us as we were in them.
I am not sure if we will ever get back there, but I'm very glad we got to see them on this trip.
You feel like prehistoric times haven't disappeared at all.

Apologies for the groaner!  I read it somewhere and I couldn't resist using it for my logo.  The author was marked unknown.  

Thursday, July 28, 2022



The Lion Sleeps Tonight/Today, not in the mighty jungle but in the San Diego Zoo.  It must have been very hot there too.

It's been a long time since I thought about this song.  I still like it!  You can listen to it here.

The photo is with thanks to my son and daughter-in-law who spent a few hours at the zoo yesterday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022


I found it hard to leave those lotus flowers and the refreshing fountain in the middle of the pond.  Though we couldn't feel its cooling spray, it was enough to sense it.  We sat on a nearby bench to see if any water birds would appear.  We haven't seen any Great Blue Herons at the pond since last year.  Maybe next time!  I felt lucky to see the female mallard, which I also shared in a previous post.   She was preening herself and then seemed to have a little snooze. 
I empathized in that heat, most definitely, but at least she could take a swim later to cool off. I always enjoy reading about them and adding to what I have already learned.  Some facts I know, others I don't, some are a good refresher course. Today I read that ducks can live from 2 to 20 years, depending on the species and whether they are wild ducks or ducks in captivity. It is a fact that a wild duck can live 20 years or more. Domestic ducks typically live 10 to 15 years in captivity. The world record is a Mallard Drake that lived to a ripe old age of 27 years.
Someone had scattered a mixture of corn and other seed near the bench, and this little girl had her lunch not far from where we were sitting. The corn was too big but she seemed to be enjoying the tinier seed.  I believe she is a female House Sparrow but please correct me if you think I am incorrect.
There was also an American Robin nearby, but that was it for the smaller birds.  The others were very elusive on our visit.  However, always grateful for small mercies, as the old saying goes.  True!
At the other end of the pond were water lilies.  There were also dragonflies.  They were flitting around and I couldn't get a proper focus for a photo.
It was time to move on and we walked towards the path that would lead us up the hill, to the flatter part of the garden.  We said goodbye to the pond area, at least until next time.
At the beginning of the path was a sign asking not to feed the ducks and geese...
and another making us aware of their ecological restoration.  There is an article at this link which tells us all about it.
Not too far from this sign we spotted the family of deer.  We counted three at least.  They were quite a distance off from us and this is one of several photos I took but these didn't exactly work out.  The tree on the right is one we pass all the time where many couples have had their names carved into its bark over many years.  You can just about make out a deer's shape in the center of the photo.  Also, the little blue glints are the reflection of its eyes.  I don't remember the flash going off.  Perhaps it was a trick of the sunlight filtering between the trees.  I shared a better photo here on my first post from our recent walk, and it is the 6th one down.
I also enjoyed the wildflowers as I walked.  Below is Blue mistflower, botanical name Conoclinium coelestinum.  Its other names are Mistflower, Wild ageratum, Blue boneset and Hardy ageratum.  It is an herbaceous perennial, is native to North America and blooms in summer and the fall.  
Next are the berries of the American elder.  Its botanical name is Sambucus canadensis.  Other names it goes by are Common elderberry, American elderberry, Elderberry, Canada elderberry and American black elderberry.  It is native to North American, a deciduous shrub and provides food for over 100 species of birds, as well as shelter for nesting.  The dark purple elderberries are used to make jellies, pies, juice, and wine.  The flowers are star-shaped and are a yellowish-white.  
We spotted a beautiful black swallowtail on the pink Garden phlox, botanical name Phlox paniculata.  Also known as Summer phlox, Fall phlox, Perennial phlox and Cross-leaved phlox.  Phlox is a Latin word for 'flame'.  It is also native to the United States.  You can read more about the butterfly at this link.  There are great photos!
Purple Joe-Pye weed is next, botanical name Eutrochium purpureum.  I feel like I am auditioning for a Harry Potter movie with all these botanical names, but I enjoy learning them.  Other names are Kidney-root, Sweetscented Joe Pye Weed, Sweet Joe-Pye-Weed, Gravel Root, Trumpet Weed and Feverweed.  It is native to eastern and central North America, and blooms in the summer and fall.  Its flowers have a strong vanilla fragrance, which makes it a favorite of butterflies.  No flutterby friends on them as I passed by.
We have crossed the stream and are making our way up the hill and will end up in the top part of the garden.
These beautiful yellow flowers are called the Cup plant, botanical name Silphium perfoliatum.  Other names are the Common Cup plant, Squareweed, Carpenter's weed, Pilot weed and Rosinweed.  It is a native to the Eastern and Central United States.  The height of this plant typically reached from 3 to 8 feet and as you can see, their blooms are similar to sunflowers.  They grew in abundance on each side of the path and these towered over my head.  
And frankly I loved them as you can see by the many photos.  There were hundreds of them along the pathway.
A closer view of one shows a bright green bug with wings.  I wish I could crop it closer without blurring it out too much (I only had my cell phone - Gregg and I swap cameras and he was further along than I was. He carries our larger camera with the zoom lens.  It is a lot heavier and my wrists start to ache if I carry it for too long.  He jokes that he is my porter, and will give it to me when I want to see something up close.  I am glad he likes taking photos as much as I do, and many of his photos I share on my blog.)   
The ID of the bug is the Augochlora pura, also known as the Augochloral sweat bee. 
Each flower head has 20-30 yellow rays and darker yellow disks. The leaves are joined at the stem to form a small cup that holds water and attracts birds. 
I also came across another yellow flower, the Black-eyed susan, botanical name Rudbeckia hirta.  Common names are the Yellow ox-eye daisy, English bull's eye, Brown betty, Golden Jerusalem and Gloriosa daisy.  Its genus name, Rudbeckia, was named in honor of botanist Olof Rudbeck Junior, (1660 – 1740) who was a Swedish explorer, scientist, botanist, ornithologist and rector of Uppsala University in Sweden. 
People plant them to attract butterflies to gardens.  It is also a native flower to America. The stamen isn't actually black but brown.  Its yellow petals attract some birds, but the brown center isn't that attractive to our feathered friends.  However, its center acts as a good platform where they can stand and snack on the jagged ambush bugs and aphids that frequent it.  Just like echinacea, the flower has been used in traditional herbal medicine.  Growing throughout the prairies and plains, it was used medicinally by many Native Americans to care for both people and horses. 
It was declared the state flower of Maryland in 1918.  

I have a few more photos from the top part of the garden. I will share those when I can put a post together.

Thanks for looking and have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022


“Great people will always be mocked by those who feel smaller than them. A lion does not flinch at laughter coming from a hyena. A gorilla does not budge from a banana thrown at it by a monkey.A nightingale does not stop singing its beautiful song at the intrusion of an annoying woodpecker.Whenever you should doubt your self-worth, remember the lotus flowerEven though it plunges to life from beneath the does not allow the dirt that surrounds it to affect its growth or beauty.”


Suzy Kassem was born on December 1, 1975, in Toledo, Ohio to Egyptian-American parents. During her childhood, she attended international boarding schools in Villars, Switzerland and traveled the globe extensively. She is a writer, director, philosopher, poet, and citizen of the world. Through her universally-themed works, Kassem has become recognized as an evolutionary thinker and creative artist known to build bridges between Western and Eastern cultures.