Rachel Carson said:
“If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.”
Bug Girl wrote a fine review last year of an often over-looked book on Carson, The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement (Mark Hamilton Lytle, 2007. Oxford Univ. Press.) It’s worth your click over there to read a nice piece on Carson, on women in science, and on nature writing.
Bug Girl spends the necessary time and space answering critics of Carson, of Silent Spring, and those few odd but incredibly active and loud advocates who claim we can conquer disease if we can only spread enough DDT poison around the Earth. Go see.
I find it impossible to stand in a place like Yosemite and not hear John Muir‘s voice — and it’s probably that John Muir found that, too. Or stand on the shores of Waldon Pond and not hear Henry David Thoreau, or stand on sandy soil in Wisconsin and not hear Aldo Leopold, or sit on a redrock outcropping in southern Utah and not hear Ed Abbey. They probably heard similar voices. But they had the presence of mind to write down what they heard.
Writing wonderful prose, or poetry, must be easier when the subject sings of itself in your ears, and paints itself in glory for your eyes.
If Carson’s prose borders on poetry, does that add to, or subtract from its science value?
- How Rachel Carson Are You? (sierraclub.typepad.com)
- Stephen Kress: The Legacy of Rachel Carson (huffingtonpost.com)
- Why it’s important to have accurate history and science on the internet: Don’t lie to kids about DDT (timpanogos.wordpress.com)
- What Did Rachel Carson Hear? The Mystery Of The ‘Fairy Bell Ringer’ (npr.org)
- Women in Conservation (wnyc.org)
- The Control of Nature: Rachel Carson (achangeinthewind.com)
- This summer, help kids reconnect with nature (couriernews.suntimes.com)
June 1 is National Trails Day, celebrated the first Saturday of June each year. It’s a day designated by hikers and users of trails, the people who use trails for health, fun and adventure.
This should be a particularly American, and broadly celebrated event. We are a nation of trails throughout our history — including in no particular order the Natchez Trace, the Chisholm Trail, various Trails of Tears, the Cumberland Trail, the Oregon Trail, the Overland Trail, the Goodnight Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, the Mission Trails, and countless others. We fly across the continent in five hours today; when European explorers came, they explored the place on foot, first. When humans migrated across the Bering Land Bridge, they came on foot, and populated the Americas from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego.
Hiking is much of who we are.
This year National Trails Day® will occur on June 1, 2013. National Trails Day is always the first Saturday in June.
What is National Trails Day®?
American Hiking Society‘s National Trails Day® (NTD) is a celebration of America’s magnificent Trail System, occuring annually on the first Saturday in June. NTD features a series of outdoor activities, designed to promote and celebrate the importance of trails in the United States. Individuals, clubs and organizations from around the country host National Trails Day® events to share their love of trails with friends, family, and their communities. NTD introduces thousands of Americans to a wide array of trail activities: hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding, trail running, and bird watching and more. For public and private land managers alike, National Trails Day® is a great time to showcase beautiful landscapes and special or threatened locales as thousands of people will be outside looking to participate in NTD events.
National Trails Day® evolved during the late ‘80s and ‘90s from a popular ethos among trail advocates, outdoor industry leaders and political bodies who wanted to unlock the vast potential in America’s National Trails System, transforming it from a collection of local paths into a true network of interconnected trails and vested trail organizations. This collective mindset hatched the idea of a singular day where the greater trail community could band together behind the NTD moniker to show their pride and dedication to the National Trails System.
Why Celebrate Trails?
America’s 200,000 miles of trails allow us access to the natural world for recreation, education, exploration, solitude, inspiration, and much more. Trails give us a means to support good physical and mental health; they provide us with a chance to breathe fresh air, get our hearts pumping, and escape from our stresses. All it takes is a willingness to use them!
National Trails Day® also aims to highlight the important work thousands of volunteers do each year to take care of America’s trails. Trails do not just magically appear for our enjoyment; their construction and maintenance takes hours of dedicated planning and labor. So give thanks to your local volunteers and consider taking a day to give back to your favorite trail.
Who Can Host a National Trails Day® event?
Anyone can host a National Trails Day® event. If you need help with programming ideas or would like more information, take some time to read through the materials on the host information page. There you will find all the information you need to host a successful event. Once you’ve planned the event, remember to register it!
Who Can Attend a National Trails Day® event?
Anyone is allowed to attend public NTD events, unless otherwise noted. All public events are listed under the event search page. Events registered as “private” will not appear on the event search page.
What Kinds of Events are Included?
National Trails Day® events involve a broad array of activities, including hiking, bike riding, trail maintenance, birding, wildlife photography, geocaching, paddle trips, trail running, trail dedications, health-focused programs, and children’s activities. Whatever you like to do outdoors, there is bound to be an event to fit your interests. If you don’t find the type of event you want, then plan it yourself — and be sure to register it.
How do Trails Make You Healthy?
Trails give you the opportunity to get your heart pumping, lungs expanding, and muscles working at various levels of difficulty, thereby improving your physical as well as mental well-being. With obesity rates skyrocketing, exercise is increasingly important, and trails provide a wide variety of opportunities for being physically active.
Does National Trails Day® have to be the first Saturday in June?
If your organization has a conflict with the first Saturday in June, plan your National Trails Day® event for a day or weekend that works best for you. No matter what day you choose, be sure to register your event with American Hiking Society; the national attention will draw more participants and media, and American Hiking Society will help you throughout the entire planning process.
Looking for ways to get involved year round?
Become a member of American Hiking Society or join the Alliance of Hiking Organizations.
Got a picture of your favorite trail? Send it in, or link to it in comments.
- Hikes on Red Mountain Park’s Ridgewalk trail will highlight National Trails Day celebration (al.com)
- Take A Hike! (For National Trails Day) (gadling.com)
- National Trails Day June 1, 2013 (naturalhistorywanderings.com)
- Celebrate National Trails Day, Clean the Bay Day (wtvr.com)
- American Trails Announces 2013 National Trails Awards Winners at the 21st International Trails Symposium (prweb.com)
- Hit the Trails – It’s National Trails Day! (serenityspell.com)
- Nature groups to salute WNC trails (blueridgenow.com)
- National trails hiking day (youawesomehuman.com)
- National Trails Day With A New Trail (trails2brews.com)
- Join Us For National Trails Day ! (frontroyalatcommunity.wordpress.com)
- National Trails Day at Pat Bean’s Blog
- National Trails Day at Russel Ray Photos
- 2013 spring hiking at Quarry Hill Nature Center, Rochester, MN, at Hiking Journal
- June 1st, National Trails Day, at Girly Camping
- Why did the turtle cross the road? at Conscious Companion – good advice on saving turtles and tortoises
Just found out. Never heard of it before — and I’m rather a turtle & tortoise kind of guy, so you’d think I’d know that.
May 23 is World Turtle Day. In fact, this is the 13th World Turtle Day.
No grand pronouncements from Congress, probably — American Tortoise Rescue picked a day, and that was that.
American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) is sponsoring its 13th annual World Turtle Day 2013 on May 23rd. The day was created as an annual observance to help people celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, founders of ATR, advocate humane treatment of all animals, including reptiles. Since 1990, ATR has placed about 3,000 tortoises and turtles in caring homes. ATR assists law enforcement when undersize or endangered turtles are confiscated and provides helpful information and referrals to persons with sick, neglected or abandoned turtles.
“World Turtle Day was started to increase respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures. These gentle animals have been around for about 200 million years, yet they are rapidly disappearing as a result of the exotic food industry, habitat destruction, global warming and the cruel pet trade,” says Tellem. “We are seeing smaller turtles coming into the rescue meaning that older adults are disappearing from the wild thanks to the pet trade, and the breeding stock is drastically reduced. It is a very sad time for turtles and tortoises of the world.” (See slide show here
Tellem says, “We are thrilled to learn that organizations throughout the world now are observing World Turtle Day, including those in India, Australia, the UK and many other countries.” Tellem notes that biologists and other experts predict the complete disappearance of these reptiles within the next 50 years. She recommends that adults and children do a few small things that can help to save turtles and tortoises for the next generation:
- Never buy a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.
- Never remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured.
- If a tortoise is crossing a busy street, pick it up and send it in the same direction it was going – if you try to make it go back, it will turn right around again.
- Write letters to legislators asking them to keep sensitive habitat preserved or closed to off road vehicles, and to prevent off shore drilling that can lead to more endangered sea turtle deaths.
- Report cruelty or illegal sales of turtles and tortoises to your local animal control shelter.
- Report the sale of any turtle or tortoise of any kind less than four inches. This is illegal throughout the U.S.
“Our ultimate goal is to stop the illegal trade in turtles and tortoises around the world. Our first priority here in the U.S. is to stop pet stores and reptile shows from selling illegal hatchling tortoises and turtles,” says Thompson. “We also need to educate people who are unfamiliar with their proper care about the real risk of contracting salmonella from turtles. Schools and county fairs are no place for turtles. Wash your hands thoroughly every time you touch a turtle or its water, and do not bring turtles into homes where children are under the age of 12.”
For answers to questions and other information send e-mail to email@example.com; on Twitter @tortoiserescue; “Like” American Tortoise Rescue at www.Facebook.com/AmericanTortoiseRescue; and join World Turtle Day on www.Facebook.com/WorldTurtleDay.
Here’s to you Freddie, the Western Box Tortoise from Idaho, and Truck, the desert tortoise from Southern Utah, the friends of my youth. And all you others.
- Happy World Turtle Day (newstalk)
- It’s World Turtle Day! (huffingtonpost.com)
- World Turtle Day: A Look at Why Half of the Animal’s Species are Going Extinct (natureworldnews.com)
- Turtles and Tortoises and Terrapins, Oh My! (cuteoverload.com)
- Happy World Turtle Day! (russelrayphotos2.com)
- Run Like A Turtle on World Turtle Day (louiselakier.wordpress.com)
Our goldfinches left several weeks ago. The cedar waxwings came through in at least three big waves, starting in February (and the last just over a week ago). House finches moulted, and the breeding males have bright red heads. Migrating robins left us by the end of January, but a lot more residents stayed with us.
We have at least one, and maybe three cardinal families. A black-capped chickadee family stuck around. Haven’t seen a titmouse in a month, but I think they’re still in the neighborhood. The black-chinned hummingbird family is back, and maybe a few other hummers. The resident blue jays and white-winged doves duke it out every day. Carolina wren stayed, and may have already fledged; but there are too many wrens for one family — is that a Bewick’s wren?
It’s a rose-breasted grosbeak, Pheucticus ludovicianus. It seems late for migrating birds, but only because so many migratory species migrate earlier these days.
Would love to have a grosbeak family, but the Cornell ornithologists say this is fly-through territory. Maybe that explains why it won’t scare by the white-winged dove, Zenaida asiatica. Dallas is the western edge of the grosbeaks’ migratory path, but the eastern edge of the dove’s territory. They probably don’t see much of each other.
We don’t even advertise clean restrooms.
- Gorgeous Grosbeaks (georgiabackyardnature.com)
- The long flight home (toledoblade.com)
- Bird Songs for Bird Lovers (onegodnews.wordpress.com)
- Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks (naturenotesnow.wordpress.com)
- Grosbeaks and chimney swifts coming and going (heraldtimesonline.com)
- Beedie Bird Photo: Bewick’s Wren (mentalhealthed.com)
- More Signs of Spring…More Birds! (sewingforlife.wordpress.com)
- 294 Species and One Shattered Record on “Almost Perfect” Big Day (birds.cornell.edu)
- spring exploding on Snake Mountain (snakemountainmuse.wordpress.com)
Which do you think eats more destructive insects, a frog or a dragonfly?
In the war between frogs and dragonflies, for which do we cheer?
You should read Natalie Angier’s entire piece about dragonflies from yesterday’s New York Times, of course. But first, you should watch the video above, by Andrew Mountcastle, which accompanies the piece. You should watch it again and again and again.
- Angier on dragonflies (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- Dragonflies, Nature’s Deadly Drone, but Prettier – NYTimes.com (richarddawkins.net)
- That’s a dangerous game! Dragonfly lands on nose of hungry frog but avoids becoming its dinner (thisismoney.co.uk)
- Natalie Angier Strikes Again (raxacollective.wordpress.com)
- Becoming a Dragonfly (lyricsonthelake.wordpress.com)
More Iceland than Aurora. Not necessarily bad. Great timelapse photos.
You have my permission to turn down the music volume.
Filmmaker Anna Possberg wrote:
Iceland has become a popular destination since the singer Björk made her island famous by her songs. Yet few people know Iceland during wintertime. And I am sure that they miss a beautiful part of the island: the snow covered rocks, the magic arctic light and especially the phantastic aurora borealis dancing in the sky. The days spent at the Jokülsarlon glacial lake were one of the most beautiful and peaceful Christmas time I remember.
- Skies over Iceland light up (cnn.com)
- Aurora Borealis dances across northern latitude skies (itv.com)
- Dazzling Northern Lights over Iceland (science.time.com)
- Video: Marriage proposal by aurora light (earthsky.org)
- Will you see the Northern Lights from Iceland’s new ION hotel? (metro.co.uk)
Fireworks for James Madison’s birthday?
I love fireworks. Kathryn and I have been known to drive a couple hundred miles to see a good show. Fireworks in honor of the guy who gave us the Constitution and the First Amendment (and much more), seems a great idea to me.
But no one did it . . .
Sometimes the Sun, Moon, stars and planets conspire.
Here’s one of the best, most inspiring five minutes you’ll spend this week. Look what the Sun sent us, filmed in time-lapse glory above Eureka, Alaska, on March 16, 2013, the anniversary of James Madison’s birthday; from AlaskaDispatch.com:
A timelapse of the Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights, over Eureka, Alaska on March 16, 2013. Taken with a Canon 5D Mark III and 24mm f/1.4 and 70-200 f/2.8 lenses. Compiled from 3800 images, with exposures between 2 seconds and 30 seconds.
Tip of the old scrub brush to Dr. M. P. Bumsted.
- Aurora Borealis in Alaska (smokinchoices.wordpress.com)
- the aurora has been seen all over the state (auroranotify.com)
- Aurora borealis: Northern lights dance in the night skies (photos.mercurynews.com)
- Video Of The Day: Aurora Borealis Iceland (gadling.com)
- Can you see an aurora borealis when there’s a full moon? (earthsky.org)
I just can’t see it.
The past two evenings, when it was supposed to be visible, we couldn’t find it. Maddeningly, others have great photos of the thing.
Here’s a photo of where it was supposed to be the evening of March 12. Nice sliver of a Moon.
We watched for over an hour, from just after the Sun’s winking out in a blaze of orange (Texas dust and DFW smog). We were shooting without a tripod, and so it was difficult to capture just how thin was the line of the Moon for a long time. It was not a clear crescent, with mountains of the Moon providing jagged lines that glistened like a crystal glass necklace. Longer exposures revealed the comet to other observers in other places, but not to us. Perched as we were right on the edge of the Austin Chalk Escarpment, we were joined by a dozen or so others who hoped to see the comet, or who were just putting their BMX bikes away.
A more detailed, and grainy, shot of the Moon (with no comet):
Here’s a photo of where it was supposed to be last night, the evening of March 13.
It’s like waiting for Godot. Waiting for Comet Godot.
Quoting from SamuellBeckett.net:
ESTRAGON: People are bloody ignorant apes. He rises painfully, goes limping to extreme left, halts, gazes into distance off with his hand screening his eyes, turns, goes to extreme right, gazes into distance. Vladimir watches him, then goes and picks up the boot, peers into it, drops it hastily.
VLADIMIR: Pah!He spits. Estragon moves to center, halts with his back to auditorium.
ESTRAGON: Charming spot. (He turns, advances to front, halts facing auditorium.)
Inspiring prospects. (He turns to Vladimir.)
VLADIMIR: We can’t.
ESTRAGON: Why not?
VLADIMIR: We’re waiting for Godot.
ESTRAGON: (despairingly). Ah! (Pause.) You’re sure it was here?
ESTRAGON: That we were to wait.
VLADIMIR: He said by the tree. (They look at the tree.) Do you see any others?
ESTRAGON: What is it?
VLADIMIR: I don’t know. A willow.
ESTRAGON: Where are the leaves?
It must be dead.
- NightSkyHunter version of how to find comets in 2013
- SpaceWeather.com forecast for March 13, 2013
- A Guide to Help You See Comet PANSTARRS at its Brightest (universetoday.com)
- Astrophotos: Comet PANSTARRS Meets the Crescent Moon (universetoday.com)
- Moon and comet pair up for a stellar show (photoblog.nbcnews.com)
- Expect near perfect skies for viewing Comet PanSTARRS from Houston (chron.com)
- Moon pairs up with Comet PanSTARRS for big show (photoblog.nbcnews.com)
- Look for Comet PanSTARRS near the crescent moon in western skies (science.nbcnews.com)
- Another chance to catch the moon and Comet PANSTARRS on March 13 (earthsky.org)
- Update: Comet PanSTARRS Makes Its Northern Hemisphere Debut (universetoday.com)
- McKellen and Stewart Will Bring Pinter and Beckett to Broadway in the Fall (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)
Cousin Amanda Holland called my attention to this on Facebook. Time lapse photography and a forest — heavenly to me.
More details from Motionkicker, Samuel Orr:
help support my new time-lapse project at kickstarter!
A Forest Year was made from 40,000 still images taken from my front window over 15 months, and were blended into the film.
Find out more about how it was made at motionkicker.com
Special thanks to Johnny_RIpper for letting me use his music.
- 15 months of a forest’s life shown in 3-minute time-lapse (treehugger.com)
- New York Year, Time-Lapse Film Featuring a Year in New York City (laughingsquid.com)
- Six great moments in time-lapse photography (ted.com)
- Time-Lapse Video of Changing Seasons (resourcemagonline.com)
No, he’s not particularly gold — but this is winter, and if he’s going to get his breeding plumage, it will come in a couple of weeks.
We’ve had Niger thistle seed feeders out for years; this year one goldfinch (Spinus tristis) finally started to visit. We’ve had as many as four at a time — but they’re probably headed north soon.
Here’s a shot of our first guest, from a couple of weeks ago.
If you’re north of Dallas, and you see this guy at your feeder this summer, tell him “hello” from us.
The non-breeding plumage isn’t so flashy as the bright yellow of the breeding males. Some of the finches settle in to a beautiful, smooth olive-drab livery for much of the winter. Close up, they look like good pen-ink-drawings by a master artist.
- FOR THE BIRDS: Signs of Spring (courierpress.com)
- Looking for the Details (kestrelsmusings.wordpress.com)
- American Goldfinch – the Vegetarian (mentalhealthed.com)
- Goldfinches eating well (mysanantonio.com)
- For National Bird Feeding Month in February, Just Feed Birds and Make a World of Difference (prweb.com)
- The Arctic Tern, American Goldfinch, and Me (becomingnotbecame.org)
- So How Beneficial is Feeding Backyard Birds? (gardenwalkgardentalk.com)
People living close to National Parks are lucky to do so; people who work in them luckier still, in the lifetime sweepstakes for seeing breathtaking sites. NPS employee (Ranger?) Bethany Gediman caught this image of Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park.
Be sure to see the video of Yosemite Nature Notes No. 14, posted here earlier. It shows Horsetail at sunset in full glory. Great photography.
How to get there:
- Catch Yosemite’s fiery falls before it’s too late (grindtv.com)
- Yosemite Valley’s “firefall” astounds park visitors (gallery) (sfgate.com)
- Yosemite (richardbegone.wordpress.com)
- Jay Sousa: Conditions must be right to photograph Horsetail Fall (mercedsunstar.com)
- Park Service Sets Plans for Sequester Cuts (blogs.wsj.com)
This is a heckuva research project: What is the sound ecosystem of the Yellowstone?
Film from Yellowstone National Park:
The film was produced by Emily Narrow for NPS, with financial assistance from the Yellowstone Association.
Published on Jul 13, 2012
Many people come to Yellowstone to see the fantastic landscapes. Wise visitors also come to experience the amazing soundscapes. This video provides some insight into the value of natural sounds in wild places and how the park is monitoring those sounds as well as the sounds created by humans.
Nothing matches the sound of a western river, to my mind. I love the sound of the tumbling waters, and it was on one of those roaring creeks that we scattered the ashes of my Yellowstone-loving oldest brother Jerry Jones.
Other sounds will captivate you. The rush and gush of the geysers, and the gurgle and plop of heated pools rivets you for a while. Once you hear the chuff of an interested grizzly bear, you don’t forget it. And while it can be scary if you’re relatively alone on the trail, the howl of the wolf tells you about the wilderness in a way no other sound ever can. The honks of the geese, the trumpets of the swans, the grunts of the bison, the scolding of the many different squirrels and chipmunks, the slap of a trout jumping out of the river — these are all worth making the trip.
After you go, these sounds will lovingly haunt your life. You’ll smile when you remember them.
I hope you can go soon. (I hope I can go, soon.)
Sad note: Only 1,553 people have watched this video since last July. Can you spread the word a bit?
- Project to improve access to Yellowstone Park through Gardiner entrance (billingsgazette.com)
- Should National Parks Offer Wifi and Cellular Coverage? (blogs.smithsonianmag.com)
- Out of Bounds: The Death of 832F, Yellowstone’s Most Famous Wolf (outsideonline.com)
- Lawsuit to Help Stop Harassment of Bison Activists (earthfirstnews.wordpress.com)
- What real public information about wolves looks like (thewildlifenews.com)
- Yellowstone Association teaches in nature’s classroom (billingsgazette.com)
- Research sheds new light on wolves’ impact on Yellowstone ecosystems (phys.org)
The white dove was a short-lived interlude; the white-winged doves seem to be with us constantly.
One family in 2011; two families in 2012 — and our yard isn’t that big.
Earlier this week I looked out, and it looked like the early “Peanuts” comic strip when Snoopy opened his dog house to a group of pigeon-like birds for their poker game. The birds took advantage of Snoopy’s largesse, and nearly over-ran him. (Woodstock was a product of that flock of birds, the last remaining vestige by Charles Shultz‘s death.)
At least they didn’t drink our beer and try to make off with the Picasso.
Blue jays enforce the “too-long-or-too-many-at-the-feeder” rules here, but they can be distracted by peanuts put out by neighbors. In any case, they were absent when we needed them.
We used to have mourning doves, but at some point in the last five years this bunch pushed them out. We may be the only ones on the block who noticed. (Yes, it’s “mourning” dove; Duncanville’s having misspelled it on “Morning Dove Lane” is their error.)
- White-winged doves at All About Birds (Cornell University’s ornithology site)
- Contrast with mourning doves
- National Wildlife Federation Backyard Habitat program (get your yard certified!)