Friday, December 21, 2012

A winter day

But not any winter day. Today is the first day of the beginning of the winter months. The Winter Solstice occurred at 6:12 a.m. EST, marking also the shortest day of the year and, conversely, the longest night.

Come tomorrow, the Sun will begin its climb higher in the sky bringing us lengthening days of light and the renewal of the season.

I enjoy winter and hibernating in my home. It's a cozy time of reading and reflecting on the things of the past, and of the coming future. It contains an edge of excitement as the next season to follow is Spring, a time of the greening of nature and new births.

 “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” ~Edith Stillwell

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Sixth Extinction

The bloom of the Prickly Pear cactus is a delight for the bees as they collect pollen. They are one of the greatest pollinators of our planet. Up to thirty-percent of food crops worldwide rely on bees for pollination. They feed us along with bats, birds, beetles and butterflies, the other great pollinators.

But we are losing them. The bees to colony collapse, the bats to white-nose syndrome, beetles and butterflies to habitat loss and all to pesticides. And we are losing so much more than them at an astonishing rate.

There have been five mass extinctions in the long history of the planet. We are currently is the sixth.

Extinction is part of evolution. Scientists calculate  the  normal extinction rate or the background extinction rate at about one species going extinct per year per one million species. Currently we are losing species at a rate of 100 - 1000 times that every year. That's a staggering number of species being lost, perhaps over 50,000 every year!

The cause is us. We are letting the biological diversity of this planet slip away through the destruction of natural habitats, hunting, invasive species, unsustainable fishing, chemicals and pesticides.

Perhaps the words of E.O. Wilson, one of the greatest living American scientists, will jolt us into action.

"This is the only planet we're ever going to have. This planet has taken tens, hundreds of millions of years to create this beautiful natural environment we have that's taken care of us so well that is, in fact, our greatest natural heritage. And we're throwing it away in a matter of a few decades."

Saturday, December 1, 2012

American Green Tree Frog

 I've had, for years, an organic vegetable plot on my property but this is the first year I've switched to organic products for my lawn. I am glad I did. I am seeing a greater variety of wildlife in my yard. I am certain the switch from toxic chemicals to organic is why. Consider doing the same for the species in your area. You will be rewarded as will they.

Like this gorgeous American Green Tree Frog. It's the second visit I've had this year and the first season I've seen them on my property. I've heard them for years with their loud nasal-like honks as I live next to their favored habitat, a wetland. Now they are coming in closer in their explorations.

Native to the southern United States, they range from Eastern Virginia to Florida then stretch on into central Texas. They are nocturnal, prey on insects and are a spectacular green color.

Isn't he awesome? Look at the large toe pads. The Green Tree Frog uses them to move from tree to tree and, while searching out insects, will do wild acrobatics in the dark of night jumping from tree to branch to tree.

In the readings I've done about this beautiful frog, I found it does not seek out prey based on size. Instead, it looks for the activity level where the most active prey is frequently eaten.

Don't go running through a forest at breakneck speed while the tree frogs are calling. You might find yourself eagerly sought after.

American Tree Frog calling