There was sun this afternoon, after a few days of on and off rain (64 °F/ 17 °C).
It was good to escape from the house for a bit, and take a few pictures of birds and bees and blooms.

Friday/ the ‘ghost dog’ of the forest

Today is the 15th annual Endangered Species Day.
Check out this picture of the ‘ghost dog’ of the Amazon rain forest.

A haunting still image of one of the Amazon rain forest’s most elusive and enigmatic mammals. It’s a short-eared dog .. or at least a type of dog. It is the only member of the canine genus Atelocynus, and also called the short-eared zorro (Atelocynus microtis). Researchers only learned of the species when it made cameo appearances on camera traps deep in the forest, that had been set up for other animals. At present, some 50 researchers are unraveling the creature’s habits and characteristics, hoping to be able to better protect it from extinction. [Video Still by Daniel Rocha. Information from the Science section in the New York Times, May 4, 2020].

Monday/ the season’s first rose

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose
– first recorded by Bette Midler for the soundtrack of the 1979 film The Rose, lyrics by Amanda McBroom

The first rose from my garden this year

Monday/ poppy flowers

I found these beautiful poppy flowers in a scruffy back alley here on Capitol Hill.
From Wikipedia:  Ancient Egyptian doctors would have their patients eat seeds from a poppy to relieve pain. Poppy seeds contain small quantities of both morphine and codeine, which are pain-relieving drugs that are still used today.

Sunday/ a plump little thrush

This little pot-bellied thrush came and sit on my garage roof last night at dusk. It sang a song or two before leaving. I believe it is a hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus). In French: grive solitaire, the lone thrush.

Tuesday/ a broken tulip?


Here’s a tulip from my walk around the block tonight.
It might be a broken tulip: one infected with a plant virus called a potyvirus. The virus infects the bulb and breaks the single color in the petals. Bars, stripes, streaks, flames or feathers of different colors can be the result.

Unfortunately the virus is not benign — it eventually kills the bulb. The Semper Augustus with its fine red and white stripes was a broken tulip, famous for being the most expensive tulip sold during tulip mania. It is now long gone, and growing broken tulips (except under supervision) is illegal in the Netherlands.

Sunday/ robin egg blue

We had gusty winds on Saturday. The wind blew a robin’s nest out of the tree in front of my house – at least I think it’s a robin’s nest. Other birds lay blue eggs as well. As far as I can tell, there were no chicks that came down with the nest.

The startling blue color of robin eggs is the result of a pigment in the eggshell, called biliverdin. The first recorded use of robin egg blue as a color name in English was in 1873, but nowadays is considered to be a shade of cyan.  

Wednesday/ Earth Day turns 50

Happy Earth Day!  

Denis Hayes, who coordinated the first Earth Day 50 years ago, April 22, 1970, was a graduate student at Harvard at the time. These days he is president and C.E.O. of the Bullitt Foundation, wdenbis hayes hich funds environmental causes in Seattle. He is chairman emeritus of Earth Day 2020.

Hayes wrote in an essay in the Seattle Times, saying that ‘Covid-19 robbed us of Earth Day this year. So let’s make Election Day Earth Day.’ He wants his readers to participate in the ‘The Most Important Election of Your Lifetime’. ‘This November 3,’ he wrote, ‘vote for the Earth.’

More robin pictures. I took these on Sunday, and the tree is the Douglas fir in my backyard.

Tuesday/ two rabbits

I spotted two little rabbits here on 17th Ave tonight. Below is a picture of one of them.
Can rabbit populations grow exponentially, as well? Yes, sure can. A female rabbit can give birth to several litters in one year, with up to 12 baby rabbits per litter. Yikes.

Saturday/ a little rain

There was a little rain this morning — just a sprinkle.
This afternoon Mr Robin came by (American robin, Turdus migratorius). He sat still on the fence for just long enough so that I could snap him.


Friday/ king of the road

South Africa is under national lockdown orders, as is much of the world.
This pride of lions is enjoying the warmth of the quiet tar road just outside of Orpen Rest Camp.  These ones are resident on neighboring Kempiana Contractual Park, and wandered over to Kruger National Park.

Pictures were taken by Section Ranger Richard Sowry, and tweeted from Kruger National Park@SANParksKNP.


Wednesday/ three woodpeckers

There were three woodpeckers (Northern flickers/ Colaptes auratus) in the alley, at the back of my house, at dusk tonight.

One was looking for bugs in the wooden utility pole — and found one.
Nearby on the overhead power lines, a male was courting a female.
Be careful, I thought : don’t let the sparks fly between you two.

Monday/ tulips, aflame

Volunteer Park is closed for picnics and group gatherings, but it is still OK to walk through (while steering clear of others, of course).
It would be impossible for bugs and butterflies to miss the flaming orange tulips, by the Asian Art Museum.

Saturday/ the lemurs get a treat

Here are the ring-tailed lemurs at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, enjoying their Easter treats (strawberries .. and ‘Was that all?’ they seem to ask).

Lemurs are classified as neither monkeys, nor apes: they belong to a group called prosimian primates. Prosimians have moist noses, and rely on their sense of smell to determine what is safe to eat — and to distinguish between individuals in their social groups.

Ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) at Woodland Park Zoo. Lemurs are native to Madagascar. [Picture by Woodland Park Zoo @woodlandparkzoo on Twitter].

Sunday/ the South Philippine dwarf kingfisher

Check out this stunning picture Miguel David De Leon for the Robert S. Kennedy Bird Conservancy, in a forest in the .

The little birds are just about impossible to catch sitting still, and it took three years of patience and trying to get a picture of the bird.


Wednesday/ here’s April

The little bergenia ‘Bressingham White’ that I have in a pot, has produced its first flowers.

Bergenias have leathery, shiny, rounded leaves that get a bronze tinge in winter time. The little flowers are bell-shaped.

Friday/ tulips and the Dutch Golden Age

Tulips were coveted in the late 1500s in Europe, for their saturated, intense petal color — that no other cultivated plant had at the time.

At the height of Tulip Mania in the Dutch Golden Age (February of 1637),  tulip bulbs sold for some 10,000 guilders: enough money to buy a mansion on the Amsterdam Grand Canal.
The market for tulip bulbs collapsed soon after that.

There is no Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley north of Seattle this year, but a few can be seen here & there in gardens in my neighborhood. I found this beauty a block down from my house.