We had both Red Admiral and the Spring Azure butterflies visiting; look how TINY the Spring Azure is, perched on a forget-me-not. The Vosnesenskii bumblebee is our most numerous bombus, and the tiny metallic green bee with striking black and yellow stripes is an Agapostemon, or male sweat bee, a member of the Halictidae family. They are considered solitary but often nest communally in the ground. Also, apparently not good swimmers (I rescued this little guy from the birdbath :^)
Wall of Birds :: check it out at the Bird Academy
What does a Project FeederWatch citizen scientist do during off-season?
Why, head to bird Mecca, of course: Sapsucker Woods and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca NY, for the BirdSleuth Educator Retreat. I flew in and flocked with educators, guides, and naturalists from around the US, Canada, Peru, and Belize. I especially enjoyed the early morning birding with experts, practicing to bird by ear, and basically being inspired by people who love birds, nature, and kids, and who are working hard to share their wonder of it all.
BirdSleuth offers kits that teach inquiry and are geared to enhance your science curriculum or after-school program and build science skills while inspiring young people to connect to local habitats, explore biodiversity, and engage in citizen-science projects. We also became familiar with the powerful citizen science birding tool eBird. eBird is a free app, which one can use to submit bird checklists, and connects you to a network that links birders together and keeps track of your sightings and lists. You can also use eBird to print a checklist for your next bird walk. For example: click on "Explore Data" and then "Explore a Region", then enter your county (or state) to view an overview of bird sightings, or even better, Hotspots. If you choose King County, and then Discovery Park, you'll see that 233 species have been sighted there. Click printable checklist, and you are good to go.
Besides looking for, watching, listening to, and identifying birds, we also had the chance to go behind the scenes and see the famous Macaulay Library (of bird sounds), meet with researchers banding birds, studying crows, researching biacoustics, and who were crazy about moths. We built nests, faced migration obstacles, learned a bit of bird anatomy, and took a drawing lesson from an artist-in-residence. I loved all the bird art (including this Yellow-bellied sapsucker carving) and enjoyed viewing-in person-the Cornell Lab's Feeder cam.
Wonderful resources, lovely people, and an exhilarating sojourn in Sapsucker Woods.
I cannot tell begin to express how thrilled I am to have (my second) feature article published in the Pacific Horticulture magazine (I have been doing the happy dance since it arrived in the mail yesterday morning :^)
You really will want to have a copy of this lovely 64-page journal, but in the meantime you can check my feature articles at these links:
Child's Play: Discovering the Wild Bits
The Importance of Spontaneous Outdoor Play in Nature
Then, don your play clothes and go for a wander in the woods or your garden. Have a nice Play!
Guest Post by Sam = Organic Lesson
In the past decade, the plight of the honey bees has become a very important issue, and rightly so, as they play an essential part in the growth of crops and produce. Many do not realize that bees aren't just there to produce honey. They also play an important part in pollinating surrounding crops. One way in which we are detrimentally affecting the bee population is through the use of chemical pesticide. As tempting as it is to use such a method to eradicate pests in your backyard, it should be noted that not only is pesticide harmful to the bees, they are also harmful to you as well. If you are a gardener who wants to use a natural control method instead then consider the use of beneficial insects.
As the name implies, beneficial insects are bugs that can help eradicate common garden pests without doing any damage to your garden produce. Not all insects are bad. There are many such as the examples listed in the infographic that can be very effective at getting rid of common pests like aphids, caterpillars, and spider mites. Who knew the beautiful ladybug could be so effective at getting rid of aphid infestations in the garden? Other than the benefit of keeping things organic, using these insects can also be a great way to save money. Chemical pesticide is only going to get more expensive moving forward so why not use a method that takes advantage of the natural resource around you? If you are lucky then some of the beneficial insects could be native to the area you live in so all you have to do is to make your garden an attractive area for them to roam. One last thing to keep in mind is that there really isn't a way for pests to resist these bugs. According to the Pesticide Action Network, more and more insects and weed species are developing resistance against pesticide. With beneficial insects, however, the pests are being eaten so they really have nowhere to go.
If you are a gardener with a backyard then start taking action now. Help sustain the local population of bees in your area by sticking to a natural pest control method.
Sam Choan is a gardening enthusiast who enjoys sharing his experience on gardening and sustainability at his personal blog Organic Lesson. During his spare time, Sam grows a number of herbs in his indoor garden and finds ways to promote green living.
I am excited to report that we have our FLOW hive up and running. As you can see in the photo above, the bees are checking out the new system. We have four FLOW frames in the middle of the deep, with two cut-comb honey deeps on each side. Right on schedule, the bees are beginning to wax up the cracks and we look forward to seeing them fill the frames with honey.
We are trying out a couple new things this year: in addition to running one FLOW hive, we have purchased deeps from Denmark; our goal is to keep our bees more cozy through the damp winter.
Meanwhile, looking in the side peek-a-boo window, the bees are busy drawing out traditional comb, and loading it up with nectar. An unexpected perk: we now have an observation hive, and can watch the bees in action with minimal disturbance. In just two days the workers drew out the second comb and have almost filled both with nectar. We are simply entranced with the show.
Carl S. English, Botanist and Horticulturist One of the rare trees in the private nursery
In May, while visiting the Ballard Locks, our paths crossed those of Stephan Munro, groundskeeper for the Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden.
We were in search of the silverleaf oaks at the Ballard Locks, and not only did we find these magnificent trees, but as luck would have it, we found Stephan putting finishing touches on his newly-mapped tree and garden tour. He graciously offered to take us on a tour-de-oaks, (including silverleaf oaks Quercus hypoleucoides, California Live Oak Quercus agrifolia, tanoak Notholithocarpus densiflorus, and Garry oak/Oregon white oak Quercus garryana), as well as giving us a behind the scenes peek at his plant and tree nursery.
The new map is the work of Stephan and his talented intern; it takes you through the gardens on a tour of 70 trees, and it is much more detailed than the previous map. Like Carl S. English Jr., Stephan is a horticulturist working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it is obvious that he is enthusiastically carrying on the traditions that Carl set in place.
Learn more about “The Man Behind the Ballard Locks Gardens”, and be sure to put the new Carl S. English Gardens Tree Tour on your ToDo list this summer!
Behind the scenes with Stephan Munro, horticulturist and storyteller
Earth Day 2016...
Fresh cut-comb honey from our beehives, a Pilleated Woodpecker on the Interlaken Trail, winter greens from our garden, Forget-Me-Nots, African Daisy, Asparagus harvest (click for full image).
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall England
It is definitely SPRING, which means I am outside playing in my garden (rather than sitting in front of my computer). There is a lot of action in the news regarding the use of GMOs and glyphosate/Round-up, calling Monsanto on their shenanigans, scuttling the DARK act, and a call to (get ready for this) ban the use of toxic fracking wastewater in organic food production... what, are you serious? ONLY on organic foods (wait-currently, someone is growing organic food with fracking wastewater? Holy S**T batman)
Links to peruse when you are ready to help fight the good fight:
CIVIL EATS Scientists speak out against glyphosate
Organic Bytes #505 Koch, Monsanto, DARK Act
Cornucopia Institute=Ban the use of Fracking Wastewater on organic food production