Category Archives: Nature

Mischievous

By Vladimir Brezina

Mischievous? Thieving is more like it.

Everywhere in our travels through the Florida Everglades, we encountered creatures that wanted something from us.

There were the mosquitoes, of course. But there were larger creatures too. The campsite in Fort De Soto Park, at the start of the Everglades Challenge, was infested with raccoons that, as soon as the sun went down, prowled through the camp without fear in search of food.

But the worst were the crows, those famously mischievous birds. Almost everywhere, as soon as our back was turned, there was a crow trying to fly off—sometimes successfully—with that apple or bag of cookies.

Here are some of the crows that laid siege to us as we were repacking our boats in Flamingo

Expectant crows

And then there are the black vultures of Flamingo,  which—as signs in the parking lot warn—have acquired a distinct taste for the rubber lining around car windows…

A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Mischievous.

Blue Shadows

By Vladimir Brezina

Seasonally appropriate: sunny days after the big snowstorm in NYC’s Central Park—

The scene in NYC's Central Park
Blue shadows 1
Blue shadows 2
Blue shadows 3
Blue shadows 4
Blue shadows 5
(More photos are here, here, and here)

A contribution to this week’s Photo Challenge, Shadowed. A second contribution is here.

The Sunspot Story

By Johna Till Johnson

Suspended lion face
Spilling at the centre
Of an unfurnished sky
How still you stand,
And how unaided
Single stalkless flower
You pour unrecompensed.

The eye sees you
Simplified by distance
Into an origin,
Your petalled head of flames
Continuously exploding. …

—Philip Larkin, Solar

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What’s the longest-running scientific experiment in history?

I bet you didn’t think of monitoring sunspots.

Sunspots

Sunspots (photo by NASA)

And I can’t definitively say it’s the longest-running experiment —there may be others I haven’t heard of yet. But the first recorded systematic observation of sunspots in the West was by astronomers Thomas Harriot, Johannes and David Fabricius  in 1610 (Chinese astronomers observed them as far back as 300 BC). Scientists have been monitoring sunspots ever since—which means that sunspots have been monitored for the past 405 years!

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Clean-up Crew

By Vladimir Brezina

Do not watch if you are prone to nightmares involving swarming insects! (However, more than 8 million people have not been able to resist watching this classic YouTube video…)

I particularly like the way they carry off the skull in the end… :-)

Some background and explanation is here.

New

By Vladimir Brezina

Each morning is a new morning—

 (click on any photo to start slideshow)

A contribution to this week’s Photo Challenge, New.

Last Days of the Year

By Vladimir Brezina

Last red leaf
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The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.
— Coleridge, Christabel
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Sunset at the end of December 2014 in NYC’s Central Park—
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Winter sunset
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(Click on any photo to start slideshow)
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Last light over the Central Park Reservoir—

Last light

Warmth

By Vladimir Brezina

The sun rises above the horizon, and immediately its warming rays disperse the morning chill. It’s going to be another hot one!

Warmth

A response to this week’s Photo Challenge, Warmth.