They did come up: the giant red fly agaric mushrooms, in my backyard. Those other paler, smaller ones from earlier in October might be a different species or subspecies of mushroom. I made sure I took a few pictures before the squirrels took large bites out of it, the way they do sometimes.
Another type of gilled mushroom has appeared in my backyard, and as far as I can tell, these are Amanita gemmata. (No touching! These are poisonous).
Just last week, so-called ‘death cap’ mushrooms (Amanita phalloides), were found on the campus of the University of Washington here in the city. A gardener found 40 mushrooms on the east side of Benson Hall and confirmed their identity with a campus mycologist.
‘We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are’.
– from Seduction of the Minotaur, by Anais Nin (1961)
The entire Sept. issue of Scientific American is dedicated to the topic on the front page in bold letters: Truth, Lies & Uncertainty: Searching for Reality in Unreal Times. The articles are heavy on science and general philosophies about what is real and what is virtual. For example: to this day, philosophers cannot agree on whether mathematical objects (say, the number ‘7’) exist, or are pure fictions.
A summary of the article by Prof. Anil K. Seth that goes with the picture below, goes like this:
‘The reality we perceive is not a direct reflection of the external objective world. Instead it is the product of the brain’s predictions about the causes of incoming sensory signals. The property of realness that accompanies our perceptions may serve to guide our behavior so that we respond appropriately to the sources of sensory signals’.
So throw in Presidents that lie every day, greedy corporations with profit incentives, and worldwide social media networks — and holy cow: it’s more important than ever before to try to verify if something uncertain or new that we come across, is ‘true’.
This is the southern masked weaver.
I found it in the green space adjacent to my AirBnB aparment, today.
I caught several beautiful birds on camera while roaming the gardens during my visit at Kirstenbosch.
The most striking ones were sunbirds and sugarbirds.
Sunbirds (family Nectariniidae) are not hummingbirds (family Trochilidae) — even though both have sharp, curved bills and iridescent feathers.
Hummingbirds are native to the Americas and are related to swifts.
Sunbirds are native to Africa, Asia and Australia and are related to swallows.
It is spring in South Africa, and I just had to stop by Kirstenbosch: one of the world’s finest botanical gardens.
Here are some more feathered friends, spotted from my apartment’s balcony in the trees nearby.
Here is a mousebird that I spotted in a tree across from my second-floor Airbnb apartment.
Per Wikipedia: Mousebirds are slender greyish or brown birds with soft, hairlike body feathers. They are arboreal (live in trees) and scurry through the leaves like rodents, in search of berries, fruit and buds. This habit, and their legs, gave rise to the group’s English name. They have strong claws and reversible outer toes (pamprodactyl feet). They also have crests and stubby bills.
The mousebirds are Coliiformes (their order). They could be considered ‘living fossils’, as the 6 species existing today are merely the survivors of a lineage that was massively more diverse in the early Paleogene period (up to 23 million yrs ago) and Miocene period (up to 5 million years ago).
I cannot bear to watch news coverage of the torching of the Amazon rainforest. The Bolsonaro government of Brazil is defiant and doing nothing to stop it.
This is what happens when nationalistic dictators get into positions of power, and there is no one to stop them. Does this even register on the radar screen of the Trump Administration? Bah. Forget about it.
There was a bunch of little bushtits in the camelia in front of my house this morning, and I took a few pictures.
Ai, aster, aster,
vat my hand en druk my vaster,
want my kop voel deurmekaar
as ek na jou skoonheid staar*
*a rough translation: (young man to his girlfriend)
‘hey aster, aster,
take my hand and hold me faster,
for my head is humming,
you are so stunning’.
– from the 1970’s Afrikaans folk song ‘Ai, meisie, meisie’ by Jan de Wet
The aster in front of my house is flowering. Its genus is Kalimeris, from the sunflower family. It was first described in 1825 by the French botanist Alexandre Henri Gabriel de Cassini.
I woke up to a shaking house at 3 a.m. this morning.
The shaking went on for only a few seconds, but I was sure it was an earthquake. It turned out there was a magnitude 3.5 quake, and the one I experienced must have been the 4.6 quake that followed just two minutes later.
The epicenter of the quake is about 26 miles from my house. No real damage or injuries in the Puget Sound area or from elsewhere, were reported.
P.S. The Nisqually earthquake of 2001 near Olympia was several orders of magnitude stronger, at 6.8. It damaged the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the dome of the State Capitol building in Olympia, and Starbucks headquarters in Seattle.
Here’s a beautiful double rainbow, that we saw on Wednesday night from my friends’ house in the Mt Baker neighborhood.
P.S. Yes, it’s not your imagination, there really is a second one above the first!
Here’s a ten-lined June beetle (sometimes called the watermelon beetle), that had landed on my porch.
They don’t bite, but they hiss and squeal when handled, I read online. (Handled? Who does that with a scary-looking bug? I flicked it off the porch with a piece of paper).
Here’s the woodpecker (northern flicker/ Colaptes auratus), that I see now and again by my house, searching for ants and bugs in the paving, and in the tree. This one is a male, with its bright red cheek.
They eat fruits, berries, seeds, and nuts, but their primary food is insects. Ants alone can make up 45% of their diet. [Source: Wikipedia].
My hydrangea’s flowers are starting to appear. In South Africa we call them krismisrose (‘Christmas roses’) in Afrikaans.
Happy Canada Day!
Here’s a Canadian lynx being a ‘cool cat’, to celebrate.
I am still scanning old pictures from my shoebox to add to my online photo albums.
This picture of a Nile monitor (Afr. ‘Waterlikkewaan‘) was taken in the early 1990’s close to my grandfather’s guest lodge in Botswana’s Tuli Block district.
I knew the spot in the rocky outcrop where the monster had been hiding, and had to wait patiently for it to make an appearance.
It’s the official start of summer here in the North today.
We have had mild temperatures (68°F/ 20°C) and not much rain in June, tracking at about 50% of the month’s average.
Sunset tonight was at its latest for the year, at 9.11 pm here in Seattle.
Whoah .. is this a giant weed? It looks like one, I thought, as I walked by it tonight.
I looked it up and it’s the great mullein or common mullein. Mullein itself derives from the French word for soft, and yes, it’s a weed – kind of.