As you may know, I have been raising Blue Orchard Mason Bees (Osmia lignaria) for several years now. I have mentioned them before in “Spring Arrives Slowly.” An online store where I have bought supplies for this garden-friendly hobby is Crown Bees, which specializes in different species of native pollinators. Check them out; they are a treasury of information. The folks at Crown Bees do not see the company simply as a commercial venture but rather as a horticultural and agricultural crusader in the eco-conscious sustainability revolution. To spread the word, I am posting their bee-awareness campaign picture:
If you have the proper habitat for native bees in your neighborhood, consider becoming a bee farmer! It is fun, educational, beneficial to nature, and beautiful.
Matt Miller in Cool Green Science showcases some gorgeous photographs by camara trap photographer Jonny Armstrong: “Camera Trap Meets Studio Lighting: Stunning Images and the Story Behind Them.” Awesome.
I wish everyone on the old calendar a blessed feast of the Protection of the Theotokos.
My father sent me the following video about the trophic cascade that resulted from the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park. The program is short but fascinating:
A few months ago, I received a link to the following editorial by Rajat Ghai in the Indian Business Standard: “Lessons from Wild Europe.” The objective of Ghai’s article is to encourage Indian conservation efforts, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the reintroduction of extirpated species in various parts of Europe. Ghai begins his article with a detail that warms my heart:
On May 17, 2014, seventeen big, bellowing cattle-like beasts were released into the forests of the Tarcu mountains in the southern part of eastern Europe’s famous Carpathian range in Romania after being ritually blessed by an Orthodox Christian priest in the village of Armenis. The release was carried out by volunteers of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and an NGO called ‘Rewilding Europe.’
The event is significant in the conservation history of the European continent as it marks the return of Europe’s largest herbivore, the European Wood Bison or the Wisent (Bison bonasus), in the Tarcu mountains 200 years after they disappeared from there due to rampant poaching.
Good news in several ways!
Crist ha ressuscitat!
Last year, Luke Mullins published an intriguing piece in The Washingtonian about one naturalist’s jihad against feral cats in the District: “Apocalypse Meow.” The article is informative in covering the “scandal” of Nico Dauphiné‘s vigilantism and the subsequent debate concerning homeless felines. The situation deals with a serious issue; birders know well what a menace domestic (or feral) cats are to songbirds. There is no “natural” established, stable balance of life in suburbia. One ought not facilely to compare a house cat on the loose to predators in the wilderness that provide a beneficial “thinning” service to the species that they target. Of course, survival of the fittest holds even in Shady Acre Estates with Henry on the prowl, but few people truly subscribe to neighborhood Darwinism. We do not care about biological efficiency as much as the treasures that nature offers. If we count cats as natural actors in the ecology of a backyard, then so must we count the Dauphinés of the world who wish to protect their oases of bird feeders and baths for the species of their fancy. It comes down to a form of symbiosis. We provide the birds food, water, and shelter, and they provide us with beauty, relaxation, and entertainment. Hence, we are interested in maximizing the diversity and quantity of avian visitors to our yards, and we’ll damn well fight some rabid rat killer to maintain our environment as we want it!
Even if you do not care about the birder / cat sympathizer issue, Mullins’ article is worth a visit just for the accompanying graphic.
We should be grateful at all times, but Lent seems to remind us more emphatically of God’s goodness and provision. One constant source of wonder and delight is the beauty of creation. Each year, the Nature Conservancy sponsors a photography contest and then publishes the winners and the honorable mentions. I have written of past years’ pictures in “A Glimpse of Pan” and “Mundus Pulcher.” The photographs offered in the contest are stunning to behold, as they are doxologies on celluloid. You may look at last year’s winning selection.
I remarked to a few friends that the penultimate photograph by Terry Ogden of the oak woodland in the Sierra Nevada foothills actually made me laugh when I first saw it, as there isn’t even any subtlety to it. It is simply a visual capture of a heavenly “Hello there.” Instead of a bush, we get some trees. I am more than content with that. Thank you, Lord.
It is the last day of A.D. 2012. Let us hope that we find A.D. 2013 better! Still, we should be grateful for life and for all God’s blessings.
Although it is winter, I offer the following video as a sign of my gratitude to the Lord for the world’s great wonders. Here is “The Hidden Beauty of Pollination” by Louie Schwartzberg. The beginning is Schwartzberg’s lecture, but stay tuned for some incredible footage of bees, birds, bats, and butterflies.
Here is a humorous indictment of American front lawns shared by Wild Ones:
To the extent that you are able, please consider natural landscaping. Plant native species especially adapted to your region’s climate that also provide food and shelter to local birds and insects. Let biological diversity flourish in the yard.
You may also wish to follow the video’s advice by growing your own victory garden. Homegrown fruits and vegetables taste better, and growing your own food is fun. The internet has thousands of useful resources for ecologically beneficial yards and for productive gardening. Enjoy the outdoors, help struggling species in suburbia, and share the splendors of nature with your family.
Happy Bright Thursday! Christ is risen!
Last May, I mentioned the Nature Conservancy’s photography contest in “A Glimpse of Pan.” You may see the past year’s winning shots here. The one for which I voted did not win this year, either, though it was a finalist—Jan Maguire’s capture of Yosemite Valley:
I voted for Yosemite two years in a row without realizing it. I suppose that I ought to visit. The place speaks to my heart.
The Nature Conservancy sponsored a nature photography contest last year, and the winners, finalists, and honorable mentions are lovely. Spend some time marvelling at these snapshots of God’s work.
My favorite picture was the contest’s first runner up—Patrick Smith’s shot of Mirror Lake in Yosemite. It is stunning.
One of Ohio’s great places made it on the list, too, with Valerie Crist’s photograph of Old Man’s Cave in the Hocking Hills.
Let us consider Ben Johnson’s congratulatory words to Robert Wroth on the benefits of living in the countryside (from “The Forest”).
But canst at home, in thy securer rest,
Live, with unbought provision blest ;
Free from proud porches, or their gilded roofs,
‘Mongst lowing herds, and solid hoofs :
Along the curled woods, and painted meads,
Through which a serpent river leads
To some cool courteous shade, which he calls his,
And makes sleep softer than it is.
Or if thou list the night in watch to break,
A-bed canst hear the loud stag speak,
In spring, oft roused for thy master’s sport,
Who for it makes thy house his court ;
Or with thy friends, the heart of all the year
Divid’st, upon the lesser deer :
In Autumn, at the partridge mak’st a flight,
And giv’st thy gladder guests the sight ;
And in the winter, hunt’st the flying hare,
More for thy exercise, than fare ;
While all that follow, their glad ears apply
To the full greatness of the cry :
Or hawking at the river, or the bush,
Or shooting at the greedy thrush,
Thou dost with some delight the day out-wear,
Although the coldest of the year !
The whilst the several seasons thou hast seen
Of flowery fields, of cop’ces green,
The mowed meadows, with the fleeced sheep,
And feasts, that either shearers keep ;
The ripened ears, yet humble in their height,
And furrows laden with their weight ;
The apple-harvest, that doth longer last ;
The hogs return’d home fat from mast ;
The trees cut out in log, and those boughs made
A fire now, that lent a shade !
Thus Pan and Sylvan having had their rites,
Comus puts in for new delights ;
And fills thy open hall with mirth and cheer,
As if in Saturn’s reign it were ;
Apollo’s harp, and Hermes’ lyre resound,
Nor are the Muses strangers found.
We celebrate poets because they give voice to the words that our souls wish to express when we encounter our beautiful world.