It was a beautiful fall day here with clear blue skies (72 °F/ 22 °C).
This Stellar’s jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) was in my laurel fence, and hopped onto my garage roof for just long enough, so that I could take a picture of it.
It’s the last day of summer here in the North.
Summer will swing by again next year, of course .. but for now we need the rain and cooler temperatures, so that the fires that still char up the West coast can be put out.
These flowers are from my walk yesterday.
From top to bottom: garden cosmos, English marigold, African daisy and dahlia.
Here’s a beautiful bird’s eye* view of the canola fields just outside Durbanville, South Africa. Look for Table Mountain and Lion’s Head to its right, in the distance.
*Picture was taken with a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone.
[Photo from ‘Die Burger’ newspaper, submitted by Dirkie Heydenrych]
I went out after sunset tonight to find a spot here in my neighborhood that would enable me to look over the trees for Comet C/2020 F3 (Neowise*).
I found it with the help of my binoculars, and got a somewhat decent look at it. The sky is definitely not an inky black here in the city!
*Neowise stands for Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, the space telescope from NASA that had discovered it in March.
The comet is on its way back to 715 astronomical units, or AU, from the Sun. (For comparison, Earth orbits at 1 AU, Jupiter at 5 AU, and Neptune at 30 AU.) The comet takes about 6,800 years to make one lap around its long, stretched-out orbit .. so it won’t visit our inner solar system again for many thousands of years.
I walked down 19th Ave after dinner.
A few people were lined up, socially distant, for ice cream at Hello Robin.
Zeeks Pizza had a smattering of diners inside, as did Monsoon, the Vietnamese restaurant.
No Friday night music and dance at the Russian Community Center; its doors were shut.
The No 12 bus rolled by. Its scrolling letters now say ‘Masks Required’— an upgrade from ‘Essential Trips Only’, I guess.
We have had a mild, average summer so far, with temperatures in the high 60s or 70s (18 to 24 °C). The sun still sets after 9 pm .. so even after dinner, there is still lots of time to go for a walk or to water the garden.
In the South and Southwest of the United States a phenomenon called a ‘heat dome*‘ has developed, which will lead to historic high temperatures the next few weeks. It is possible for Phoenix, AZ, to see 120 °F (48 °C). *A heat dome occurs when strong, high-pressure atmospheric conditions trap hot ocean air like a lid or cap.
I had to scroll through hundreds of Botswana bird photos to identify this white-crested helmetshrike, that I took a picture of long ago. (Googling ‘White bird with orange-ringed eye’ and several other similar attempts, did not do it).
We call a shrike laksman (say ‘la- ks-mon’) in Afrikaans: literally, executioner. The crimson-breasted shrikes in our garden in South Africa would find frogs or big insects, and impale them on the thorns of a bush before devouring them!
White-crested helmetshrike (Prionops plumatus), Tuli Block, Botswana, Jul. 1988.
A lot more flowers are blooming on my hydrangea this year, compared to last year. They are as always a deep pink (which means that I have neutral or slightly alkaline soil).
A neighbor right around the corner has beautiful blue ones (acidic soil).
I cleaned up some pictures from my old 35 mm negative scan archives.
These were all taken in the nineties in Botswana’s Tuli block — the eastern tip of the country wedged between Zimbabwe in the north and South Africa in the south.
I saw this old news clip from 2016 on Twitter. A 99-year old woman in Miami woke up with a strange animal sleeping on her chest: a kinkajou(Potos flavus).
Luckily, says the veterinarian that took care of the kinkajou, it was a ‘domesticated’ animal. (They did track the owners down. Kinkajous cannot really be domesticated, but the animal was obviously used to humans).
A Steller’s jay made such a ruckus in the tree in front of my house last night, that I had to go investigate. Sure enough, there was a second one on the ground, unable to fly. Oh no, I thought, I’ll have to do something.
I put the struggling bird in a shoebox, and left a message for the wildlife rescue center in Lynnwood. They called back in the morning. I texted them these pictures, and they said to bring it in.
They found an injury below its left eye; could have been the work of a crow. It was also a little thin and they were going to take care of it for a while and set it free. What could also be going on, is that the bird is just learning to fly, said the bird expert. Most fledgling birds don’t fly straight out of the nest. They spend a day or two on the ground flapping their wings (and hope they don’t catch the attention of predators), and then get going.
Here are flowers that I had found on my walk after dinner.
The first picture is of a single clematis, the next of pink and white rose campions, with their gray-green stems.
I believe the little yellow flowers in the last picture are damianita daisies.