Cookie’s Second Clutch Hatches!!

Most of you will remember my surprise discovery of a second clutch of eggs from Cookie in early June.

I was hoping that the babies would hold out and hatch the first week we were back to school but unfortunately the toasty warm incubator in the Caldwell laundry room/snake nursery was too ideal an environment. So excited that we have FOUR Amelanistic (red albino) babies and Four Okeetee already.  2 more eggs to go!!  Stay tuned and let me know if you are interested in adopting a baby corn snake. 

Yellowstone National Park!

IMG_3966Fellow Fiver, Maddie, and her family enjoyed special vacation time at Yellowstone National Park a few weeks ago! Sadly the little baby bison above, Maddie reports, had a broken leg.   It looks like “Mom” was shedding her winter coat.  Check out the cool hot spring photo.  I wonder what is making the water that reddish-brown color?

IMG_4040 That bird of prey that Maddie captured in the camera lens is an Osprey.  An expert fisherman!  Is that a trout?

Thank you Maddie for sharing these great pictures!!

Nature Notes from the Northwoods

Grab a map and zoom in on the eastern Minnesota/Canada border.  There is a pristine region called the BWCA Wilderness.  (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) This remote area of over 1 million acres is loaded with 1,100 + glacial carved lakes. The placid lakes are connected by short portages through the woods and gentle streams where river otters play and beavers build dams.  The protected region allows no powered boats and is peppered with hundreds of remote campsites only accessible by canoe or kayak.  It is an area ideal for week(s) long canoe/camping trips that recreate the travels of our nation’s early explorers and the French Voyageurs. Here we can be detached from modern conveniences and experience our connection to the natural world.

This folk song celebrates the Minnesota Northwoods. It is one of many songs we sing while paddling.  It was performed beautifully by our LC 5 music students last spring   …  🎼”Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver, where still the mighty moose wanders at will. Blue lake and rocky shore I will return once more …”🎼.

My family has returned to a unique YMCA family wilderness camp here for 17 years, Camp du Nord.

Here are a few photos of this special area where wild wolf packs can be heard howling at night.  Loons call.  Black bears beat you to the best berries, bald eagles fly by and the glow of the Northern Lights competes with the peaceful beauty of the Milky Way at night.

No technology in the BWCAW … This belated blog comes to you as I leave through the town of Ely, MN.

Nick’s Frog Friend

Nick found and said I could share with you this cute little friend that he found about a week ago.  He has made it a really nice habitat to observe it for a while at home before he releases it back into the wild. He has a nice stick in there and even added fresh rainwater.  The frog is only about 3/4 inches long and likes to cling to the glass side of the habitat.  At first Nick thought it might be an albino of some sort but given the black eyes is now hypothesizing that it is a gray tree frog.  What species do you think it is?  Do you think it is at its full adult size?


🎼 Good Morning Merry Sunshine…

… your light shines straight to me. When glass or ___?___ bend your line your colors I can see 🎼.  Hopefully some of you remember this song I shared with you when we were learning about refraction.  It was a song I sang to wake up my boys when they were little. The way the sun would shine through their window they would get a little rainbow on the wall.

Catching fish wasn’t the best, but fishing for fish at sea for days provided many magical moments enjoying the natural world.  We saw pods of hundreds of the Common Dolphin species and even a pod of about 7, rarer, Bottlenose Dolphin.  Check out the video!!  It’s about 1 1/2 minutes long but worth the watch for the jumper close to the end.

As for catching fish, we certainly didn’t ” Catch ’em all” but we did lure from the deep and then release a few Bonita and Calico Bass.  Only one fisherman, Mark, in our group of 3 boats prowling the sea ,came back to port with the big prize, an 80lb Yellow Fin Tuna.

Mark and his Tuna

Hard earned fresh sushi was enjoyed last night by all.

Fish 2 Fisherman 0

Day 2 of a 4 night deep sea fishing trip with my dad.  The fish are winning.  We have beautiful live bait (sardines and mackerel), an arsenal of rigged rods

and “the secret” weapon fish lure.

 We are on my dad’s friend’s boat, Genesis, nicknamed “the Fishing Machine”. Yet the fish elude us!

We are cruising along the Catalina ridge 26 miles off the coast of Southern California. Thank goodness it is breathtakingly beautiful.

We will be at sea.  No dock.  No foot on land. Not even at night, for 2 more nights.   We are after the infamous Blue Fin Tuna which are just moving in from Mexico’s warmer waters. These fish can reach 100++ pounds but the ones we seek are in the 40-70 lb range.   We have seen them churning on the Pacific surface like crazy chasing up gigantic bait balls but have yet to hook one up for dinner.  Last night we had chicken 😁

Still working hard and hoping for the freshest of sushi.

We Came in Peace for All Mankind

On this day, July 20th, in 1969 humans first set foot on the Moon. NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong piloted the Apollo 11 Lunar Module to the surface and announced to Mission Control, “Houston, the Eagle has landed.”  at 3:17pm CT (Central Time).  After several hours of rest and preparation at 9:56pm CT Neil Armstong stepped onto the lunar surface. His famous first words were broadcast around the world… “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  He was joined by Buzz Aldrin minutes later.  The “unsung hero”, Michael Collins, remained in orbit piloting the Command Module around the moon to safely capture Neil and Buzz when the Eagle’s accent stage launched for the return to Earth. 

The title of today’s post comes from the words on the plaque of the descent stage of the Lunar Module that is still on the moon undisturbed today.  

The last Apollo mission to land on the moon was Apollo 17. It landed on December 19,1972.  No humans have left Earth’s orbit since. Remarkably, only 12 humans have walked on our moon.  All men. All Americans. 

I wonder when humans will once again leave the “little blue marble’s” orbit.  Will you be the one to go on the next great space adventure? Red planet here we come!

Babies Find a Home in Four!

Two of Cookie and Brownie’s babies have found a home right next door in LC4.  So exciting that we will be able to watch them grow and develop!  Mrs. Mclean, LC4’s awesome science teacher, is adopting our first born amelanistic corn, Rainbow, and a very healthy okeetee patterned baby yet to be named.

Rumor is that they are considering the name Curie for the okeetee to honor the famous scientist, Marie Curie. Ms. Curie was awarded a Nobel prize in physics in 1903 and again in 1911 for her discovery of two radioactive elements (radium and polonium) and her work with radioactive elements to treat cancerous tumors.  She was the first woman ever to receive the Nobel Prize.  Let’s hope this name sticks!

Sound the Trumpetfish!

Today’s featured photo is of the Trumpetfish.  I stumbled upon this attractive critter at a depth of about 45 feet at a location known as Blue Peter Reef on the Grand Cayman North Wall.   The cool thing about Trumpetfish is that they are often found hovering vertically in the water like this one.  They camouflage themselves with the vertical soft coral fingers keeping very still.  This is how they surprise their prey, unsuspecting small reef fish like the wrasses. This guy obviously thinks I can’t see him either which is why I was able to get so close with my GoPro.  Good link to info on the trumpetfish below.

This Trumpetfish was about 80 cm long… just shy of 1 meter!


Sponge Bob and Friends

The yellow tube sponges featured above are about as close as I got to seeing “Sponge Bob” while scuba diving.  Yellow Tube Sponge Link

As much as sponges look like plants, they are really animals.   They are filter feeders that consume microscopic plankton.  They come in many different shapes, sizes and colors.
Here is a link to some great information on sponges.  I love photographing sponges… they don’t run away 🙂

Sponges: Primitive Animals

Basket or Barrel Sponge

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