Does sand get stuck between a raccoon’s toes?

 

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It definitely gets stuck between my toes… Mine may not be as furry but I suspect they are as leathery…

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When was the last time you really looked at sand? This came out of the toe of my shoe…

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Do you think Canada geese ever get particles of sand stuck between their webbed toes?

 

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In closing, warm thoughts to all who are feeling the chill today!

 

Meadowlark Lemon is a color!

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Have you ever seen a more wonderful lemon color? Shouldn’t it be called Meadowlark Lemon? 3/1/17 a pair of Eastern Meadowlarks stalked through our lawn, probing the ground for insects with their long, sharp bills.

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On the ground, their brown and black dappled upper parts camouflage the birds in the dry grasses. This was my first view, so hard to see I got out my spotter scope. That allowed me to try to take some photos through the scope with my iPhone.  Hard to do but worth trying.

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This is the mate. They are chunky, medium-sized songbirds with short tails and a sweet, lazy, repertory of flute-like whistles. The Eastern male meadowlark sings 50-100 songs. Sounds like we should compare the Eastern Meadowlark with the Northern Mockingbird! Both like to sing from exposed perches.

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Male and female look alike. We rarely see them.I keep records in our Sibley. Prior sightings were 3/31/05, 3/18/10, and 3/22/14.

 

Welcome to the Spring Flower Show of Southern Maryland!

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Pussy willows are my weakness so I had to start my Spring Flower Show of Southern MD with them! These were cut from a bush I am trying hard to protect from local beavers.

Then come the camellias. These are the only two varieties that have survived a string of harsh winters and they only bloom if the winter is mild. One cold snap at the wrong moment and all the buds freeze, leaving us to dream about what could have been if only…

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Cora’s winter jasmine are a reliable special treat. Somehow they always bloom, no matter what the weather does.

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Not many people are  happy to see swamp maples in full bloom. It means tree allergy season has arrived. But they are amazingly beautiful, sparkling gold against red.

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And for all you wild edibles lovers, the tiny white blossoms covering the ground are a reminder to collect and enjoy winter cress right now, before it goes to seed.

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Last but not least is a cabbage left over from the Winter Flower Show! Who could resist that color?! Please sign up for my blog so you don’t miss a day!

That couldn’t possibly be an eagle!

Who ever heard of a bald eagle with a brown head and a white belly? Eagles have white heads and dark brown bellies, don’t they? Adult eagles do. But eagles don’t reach adulthood until they are about 5 years old. Baby eagles and juvenile eagles go through many stages of color combinations as they molt their way to maturity. Those two birds above are not ospreys or peculiar vultures. They are juvenile eagles. Check the pair out as they enjoy the view from a sycamore tree!

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Looks like an eagle in reverse…

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Check out the bent-over neck and head of this one. The first eagle has a brown head but this eagle’s feathers are mixed brown and white. Remind yourself when bird-watching, if the body is as big as an eagle’s, it probably is an eagle! Then try to figure out whether it is one, two, three or four years old or if it is a mature adult.

58 degrees and buggy! Winter took the day off.

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58 degrees and buggy! Winter took the day off! I tried unsuccessfully to identify the bugs that follow but think they are all in “fly” family. Never noticed legs like that one above before. And only saw the unusual legs because camera acts like a magnifying glass.

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Silhouettes are fun! High fashion bug!

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They all have long legs, long antennae, thin bodies, wings longer than bodies and wings folded over body when at rest. That bug looks similar to a mosquito.

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I wonder if all the tiny dots are the bug’s dinner. I couldn’t see them with my naked eyes.

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These were the only bugs inside the house. They were tiny and there were a lot of them. Actually there was another bug inside, a wasp, captured and released before I thought about taking photos.

First wildflowers for me in 2017

On a rainy Sunday morning I went for a walk, wondering what I would find for my blog. All of a sudden I noticed red swamp maple blossoms scattered on the road like tiny Valentines! Be warned. The sniffles you have may be the start of your annual tree allergies! flowers-swamp-maple

I thought the blossom tips fell when caterpillars nibbled on the tender branches. So much for that concept. At least I don’t think there are any caterpillars out yet. Reminder: Winter fireflies were out 01/01/17…

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Then I noticed tiny white blossoms on delicious winter cress carpeting the road’s edge! Are we skipping winter in southern Maryland this year?

Migratory Earthworms…

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On January 24, 2017 earthworms were still migrating across the road here in southern Maryland. To get to the other side? Has the warm weather confused them? Should I pick them up and tuck them into my houseplants before the ground freezes? Here’s what they’re supposed to do:

Earthworms in winter, like earthworms during drought (dry soil conditions), burrow deeply. Night crawlers, the biggest of the garden worms (at least in my neck of the woods) will tunnel as much as six feet down, taking organic matter with them. There they build permanent burrows and wait for moisture.

All earthworms do more than just burrow to escape frozen ground. Once down as deep as they will go, they curl up tightly, surrounding themselves in insulating slime. In summer, during hot and dry spells, they enter a hibernation-like state known as estivation. In winter, the worms hibernate, waiting for soil to thaw before moving upward.

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“…It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organized creatures.” — Charles Darwin (1881)

The lowly earthworm, they’re given such short shrift. With nary a thought from us, they quietly work magic day and night, right under our very feet. We should be celebrating earthworms, as the ancient Egyptians did, because they’re the unheralded champs of soil restoration. Aristotle called them “the intestines of the earth.”

Earthworms clean up debris and recycle it as fertilizer. Their tunnels aerate the soil and erosion is almost eliminated. Their labors benefit the food we eat, the flowers we love, the trees that shade us and the wildlife who live in our yards. And, the worms themselves are food for many animals. Around the world, agricultural areas are going “no-till.” In these instances, earthworms are valued as the main force for churning crop residue into the soil and keeping it fertile.

They’re strange-looking critters, aren’t they? But they’re perfectly built for the work they do, and they’ve been doing it successfully for a long time — maybe 1.2 billion years. In 2002, Australian researchers found a fossilized trail in sandstone they believe was made by a worm-like animal that long ago. This would not only be the oldest worm evidence, but the oldest multi-celled animal.

A Confusion of Clouds!

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Most of the time when I look at the sky I see a Confusion of Clouds. Because of a blog I did a few days ago I may have learned something. This lovely sunset is definitely not the “Red sky at Night- Sailor’s delight” type. I assumed it meant rain was coming. But I didn’t know how much rain to expect. This sunset was followed by 4 full days of rain, fog and absolute grayness! Here are two more shots as the sunset progressed to help  you remember for the next time a sunset sky like this appears. Will it be followed by 4 days of bad weather?

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Notice there was still blue sky peeking between the cloud-rolls. Maybe stratocumulus? The sun was almost completely covered.

On the 5th morning the sun was shining. The sky was blue and the puffy cotton clouds looked like fair weather cumulus to my uneducated eye. So I was expecting a lovely day. I didn’t bother to take a picture. But 2 hours later I am blogging and the sky looks like this!

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High stratocumulus maybe? The sun is playing peek-a-boo, trading bright sun with gray shade.  We’ll have to wait to see what this sky is plotting! If you know the real names of any of the clouds in these photos, please let me know so I can share with readers.