Citizen Science…

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I love observing and learning about the critters right in our own back yard. There is always something going on if you take the time to look…

The last few days, I moved my portable perch over to the only thing in our yard that has autumn colors…the pomegranate bush…which didn’t produce any pomegranates this year. That’s too bad because birds love pomegranates. Adding a few peanuts to the perch draws them in, though.

Perch in Autumn

Thrasher Autumn 2

Thrasher Golden Eyes 2Curve-billed Thrashers

Sparrow Perch 1

Sparrow Perch 2House Sparrows, female and male

This very strange looking little creature dropped by. Someone on Facebook was able to ID it for me. “Tylospilus acutissimus is a species of predatory stink bug in the family Pentatomidae. It is found in the Caribbean, Central America, North America, and South America.” (Wikipedia)

Mystery Bug

This moth was found floating in a tub of water in the backyard. I thought it was a goner but it flew away after a couple hours of rest…look at its cute face!

Butterfly SavedGeometer Moth

A Honeybee was upside down in a container of grape jelly filled with rain. I put her in a dry spot and gave her some jelly which you can see she is sucking up here and she flew away after awhile, too. Both took off to pollinate the world!

Save the Bees

My favorite winter visitor also loves grape jelly…

Tink Looking Up

OCWA Slant

OCWA Tree

Tink 11.25Orange-crowned Warbler

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Lesser Goldfinch 11.25Lesser Goldfinches, male and female (they love baths and thistle)

Autumn MockNorthern Mockingbird

Verdin PumpkinVerdin

Anna's 11.25Anna’s Hummingbird

Here’s a few citizen scientist things you can do in your yard (click to go to articles):

  1. Don’t rake your leaves as much.
  2. Join eBird and record your sightings.
  3. Feed the birds, especially in the winter.

 

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Looking Ahead to 2017

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cw-12-28-16Cactus Wrens (Arizona State Bird)

rmr(above graphic credit)

gilded-flickerGilded Flicker

queenQueen Butterfly

mock-12-28-16Northern Mockingbird (pondering what lies ahead)

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Wishing all of us peace, love, and understanding…as well as health and prosperity in 2017!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Little Free Library Tour

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27 Flower 4

Summertime is for a lot of things…even reading, right? Whether it’s because you live in steamy hot Phoenix where reading is one of the few things you can do or you enjoy reading on a nice sandy beach or poolside, it’s a fun pastime. So I went on a self-guided tour of 5 Little Free Libraries the other day. None of these are in my immediate neighborhood but they are in my general area, central Phoenix. This was my favorite; it was gorgeous with mosaic tile on it. The whole yard was full of beautiful artistic touches…I wish I knew the owners and could be friends with them!

27 Flower Totem

27 Flower Bird

And it looks like they like birds!

27 Flower Cat

And cats! We need to be friends!!!

Georgia 1

This one was also very pretty, matching their house. It’s such a nice thing to do, I think, to promote literacy and build community by maintaining one of these libraries. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors.

Georgia 2

LFL

Pinchot 1

This library also matched the vivid blue trim on their house. This particular one seemed to be mostly full of children’s books.

Pinchot 2

I like how there is a little bench by the next one so you can peruse before you choose your book. Very welcoming.

Sheridan 1

Sheridan 2

Sheridan 3

Do you have any in your neighborhood? Would you like one? I definitely want one but we have sprinklers in our yard that would damage it fairly soon, I think, so I’m trying to figure out how we could get around that. This is the one I would like from the Little Free Library website: the Urban Reader. It’s also one of the cheaper ones they have and it’s made of stucco so I’m thinking it might be more durable. Then you fill it with some books and become the “steward” of your library. You can register it on their website so that it shows up on the map and you’re in business! (You don’t have to use their libraries if you prefer to build or make one yourself. I’m considering making a portable one out of a wooden crate with wheels so I can bring it in at night.)

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Here’s the 5th library I saw but this one seems a little weather-beaten and it apparently is not a registered Little Free Library. It still had some good books in it and serves the same purpose.

Flynn

No little free libraries around you? Everyone but me probably knew this already but most public libraries now have e-books you can download to your various e-readers for FREE! All these years I’ve been helping Amazon grow when I could have gotten a lot of them for nothing. The only drawback is you (at least in the case of the Phoenix Public Library) only have 2 weeks before the book disappears from your device but sometimes you can renew. If the book is really good, 2 weeks is more than enough time to finish it.

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The book above (that I paid for) is one of my 2 favorite books I’ve read so far this summer. The other is this one, by a local Phoenix journalist and author (that I also paid for, in hardback):

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Check ’em out!

Edit: Phoenix New Times used some of the photos from this blog post on their blog!

 

Transition/Transformation

Queen 1

Queen Butterfly

Queen 2

Queen 3

Queen 4

Today, July 31, was going to be a very special day for me…the day of my retirement after (literally) decades of working for a large, local healthcare organization. However, due to a request to stay for awhile until something in particular occurs there, I agreed to remain there part time for another couple of months, maybe 3-4, but not more than that. I was both excited and apprehensive to retire and I am both disappointed and slightly relieved to be staying a little longer. It’s been hard to make a decision.

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Fiery Skipper

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Skip 2

So, while today is not the occasion I had planned, and the celebration is not yet commencing, I will now only work 3 days a week and have a 4 day weekend EVERY WEEK! And the end is in sight…

Butterfly Symbolism

What is the meaning of the butterfly? This animal totem is primarily associated with symbolism of change and transformation.

Powerful transformation, metamorphosis in your life, personality
Moving through different life cycles
Renewal, rebirth
Lightness of being, playfulness
Elevation from earthly matters, tuning into emotional or spiritual
The world of the soul, the psyche

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Saddlebags

Roseate Skimmer

Roseate Skimmer

Dragonfly Meaning

The dragonfly is generally associated with the symbolic meaning of transformation. Common meanings for this animal totem:

Change and transformation
Adaptability
Joy, lightness of being
Symbol of the realm of emotions, invitation to dive deeper into your feeling
Being on the lookout for illusions and deceits, whether external or personal
Connection with nature’s spirits, fairies’ realms

(From Spirit Animals & Animal Totems)

That’s what I’m looking for: change, transformation, joy, lightness of being. I want to take more photos, see more birds, learn more, have more fun, do something meaningful and fulfilling to me…I’m hoping that the best times are yet to come…

Bees, Birds, Butterflies, & More

Bee Purp

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These photos were all taken at the Franciscan Renewal Center’s (The Casa) Healing Garden. It’s on my route to work and I sometimes stop on my way home and usually get a few good shots. It’s a magical, peaceful place.

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Kale. They have many vegetables and herbs growing in the garden.

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Mountain

Woodpecker

Ladder-Backed Woodpecker

Gila in Palm

Gila Woodpecker

Grackle

Great-Tailed Grackle, female

Starling

European Starling

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Swing

Their slogan: “Paz y Bien/Peace and Good.”

More than Honey

If you’re interested in how bees affect our ultimate survival, check out this fascinating film, More than Honey (on Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, etc.) One of the featured beekeepers is Fred Terry, one of Tony’s good friends for many years, the “Singing Beekeeper” of Oracle, AZ. We’ve seen Fred’s hives in Oracle before. The film was the 2013 winner for Best Documentary at the Santa Barbara Film Fest 2013, German Film Award 2013, and Swiss Film Award 2013. It’s compelling, troubling, informative, beautifully photographed…and Fred looks great (he’s been stung 100-250 thousand times!!!!!!).