Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Case of the Pot calling the Kettle Black

Bumble bees pictures (1)
A few years ago, on one of our many chilly mornings, I found five or six bumblebees all snuggled together in a single flower. Though it was pretty obvious they were bundled  for warmth, I wanted to know why they'd chosen this method. I called my go-to person on all science questions, botanist Teresa Sholars. She said some species of plants actually increase their metabolism at night to attract bees. Bumblebees shiver to keep warm. A bunch of shivering bumblebees inside a flower insure they will become covered in pollen, and insuring pollination for the flower. How bloody cool is that!
 I, unlike bees, love sleeping in cold room with lots of blankets. This morning, I found a very numb bumblebee in my bathroom sink. At first I thought it was dead, but when a leg moved, I edged it onto a piece of toilet paper and carried it outside.

Nearly every morning, I'm awakened by ravens gathering to follow my animal-loving, but rather peculiar neighbor, who goes by, rain or shine, just at dawn, pulling a cooler full of stale bread, which she drags to the top hill to feed the assemblage. 

This morning, I'm on my upper deck trying to encourage my bee, which has crawled off the toilet paper and is now on my fingertip, into a nasturtium bloom, when I hear my neighbor coming along the road, talking to the ravens, which are flying along behind her, and I think aloud-- "Charlotte, you poor old thing, you're not all there," --then I catch sight of my reflection in the sliding glass door. Staring back at me is a seventy-plus-year-old woman, in her pajamas, with a severe case of bed-hair, and a bumblebee on the tip of her finger. 

P.S. I ended up carrying the bumblebee downstairs, put it on a piece of paper near a lamp, gave it a drop of honey, and covered it with plastic lid with a breathing hole. It drank the honey, and when it warmed up and started to buzz, I took it outside and let it go.

"The bumblebee is either sick, too old or too cold to fly. If it is sick or infected with a parasite then I'm afraid there is not much that can be done. However if you find a grounded bumblebee early in the year, just at the start of the first warmer days, then it is probably a queen. She may have been caught out in a sudden shower or a cold spell. If the temperature of the thorax falls below 30 oC the bumblebee cannot take off (see temperature regulation). The best thing you can do it pick her up using a piece of paper or card, put her somewhere warmer, and feed her. When she has warmed and fed she will most likely fly off. You can feed her using a 30/70 mixture of honey and water in a pipette or eye dropper, or just a drop of this on a suitable surface within her reach, but be careful not to wet her hair or get her sticky. By saving a queen you may have saved an entire nest. If the weather is really unsuitable for letting her go, or if it is getting dark, you can keep her for a day or so if you are willing to feed her."

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Pretty Bird and then some, revisited.

 I wrote this post last month then came across this video today. Too cute not to share.

As someone owned lock, stock, and barrel by this parrot for the last 35 years, I found this article a fun read. It was sent to me by Bill Bonvie, a fellow writer and author of Repeat Offenders.

Parrots Are a Lot More
Than ‘Pretty Birdfrom the NYTimes by Natalie Angier.

‘Feathered Primates’ 

"Parrot partisans say the birds easily rival the great apes and dolphins in all-around braininess and resourcefulness, and may be the only animals apart from humans capable of dancing to the beat."


"The most celebrated dancing parrot is Snowball, a sulfur-crested cockatoo with a trademarked name whose YouTube dance performances to Queen, Michael Jackson and the Backstreet Boys have been viewed some 15 million times."


Hopi was hand-raised and came from a breeder. India, Mexico, South Africa are the source of many illegally imported parrots, none of which, if they survive, will ever make good pets. The stress alone can cause them to sicken and die. If you want to own a parrot, please get one that is hand-raised, preferably by you, and purchased from a breeder. Also recognize, it will be lifelong commitment. They can live 80 or more years, and are messy to a fault. Ask any of my friends.

 Parrots make up for almost 50% of bird trade in India, experts say


  Unsustainable Grey Parrot Trade in South Africa | National Geographic ...

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Elephant Love


wonderful video of Lek Chailert
 Lek Chailert, founder of Elephant Nature Park, located in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

the story behind this picture.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Makes me ashamed of my attempt to grow my own potatoes

Snow Crab
Last night a group of friends got together for an Alaskan snow crab dinner. Here on the north coast of California it is dungeness crab season, except it isn't. Because of domoic acid poisoning, a deadly neurotoxin, this year's crab season remains closed. I brought all the shells home to compost. This morning, I read this story about a family raising 6000 lbs of food on a tenth of an acre. They make their own gasoline out of cooking oil and only use $12 a month in electricity. I was already feeling ashamed about how much crab I ate last night, then wake up to a reminder of what we each could do to become less of a burden on the planet. I'll be out composting the crab shells while you enjoy the video.

Dungeness crab

 "Domoic acid, which can cause seizures or death in humans, began showing up in crabs after colossal algae blooms caused by unusually warm ocean waters started disgorging the neurotoxin in April. Recent state testing still detected it in a few northern areas such as Fort Bragg, and it’s those test areas that commercial crabbers are hoping will come up clean soon so the season has a chance of finally starting." SFGate story  By Kevin Fagan and Jenna Lyons


story by Seth M

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Left to Starve

If you've read this blog even once, you know that I come down on the side of animals whether it's to rant against the horrors we inflict when we lock them in cages to test our drugs, cosmetics, pesticides, and chemicals on them, or make them do tricks for our amusement. If any of these things make your stomach turn, you're my choir. I can only hope that once in a while a potential new member stumbles upon one of these posts and wants to help. And it's why I write for children, who are our last best hope to make us a more moral species.

Left to Starve
"Ponso is one of dozens of chimps who were stranded on a string of abandoned islands after the New York Blood Center (NYBC) finished years of painful testing on them."

Chimp Abandoned On Island Welcomes Rescuers With Open Arms

 By Ameena Schelling for the Dodo

 "The decision was met with widespread condemnation. At the time, Jane Goodall called the announcement "completely shocking and unacceptable." Duke University primatologist Brian Hare told the New York Times, "Never, ever have I seen anything even remotely as disgusting as this."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Oddball and the Fairy penguins

From my friend, Molly, in Australia
Adding this to my bucket list.
"Tomorrow we are going camping to a little island called Phillip Island. It is home to these cute Fairy penguins  There is a movie called Oddball that I watched. It's a true story (that takes place on a different island near us). All the penguin were getting eaten by foxes, which had learnt to swim over to this island. So the sent a dog called Oddball to scare away the foxes. Oddball did that and he loved those penguins. I don't know if you have heard of it before, but it was really cute. I found this picture for you of Oddball the dog with a penguin and, of some fairy penguins too."

I looked on Netflix w/out luck.