Red Clover: Under the Microscope

At this point, most of the red clover blossoms are withering. I looked at three of the “flowers” under the microscope.

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These photos were taken with an iPhone 7 connected to a microscope with an adapter. You can click on any of the galleries to see a closer view.

A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery: Part 3

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In Part 1 of this series, I showed photos of the bird houses in my back yard and the nests I found inside of them. I questioned why one of the nests almost filled the bird house. I also wondered why the big one had a flat top leaving no place for a nesting female and her eggs.

In Part 2, I relayed that readers had informed me that it was a wren who had built the big nest and I shared information I had learned about wrens since my first post. In addition, I wrote about what I found when I took that nest apart.

In Part 3, I will share microscopic photos of all ten of the nest’s components and then let you know why I still feel disturbed.

(Note 1: The numbers near the photos below correspond to the numbers at the top of this post. Note 2: You can click on the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

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While I love the beauty the microscopic photos revealed, there was one material that greatly disturbed me. That was item #10, plastic. I was dismayed to see how much plastic was in the nest when I took it apart.

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I know that birds, fish and other creatures can get sick if they eat plastic. Here is a photo that was taken of the contents of the stomach of a dead albatross at Midway Island.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia

I have to wonder if the fact that this wren’s nest had a top on it was because the bird was sick from eating plastic and its brain was not working correctly. There is no way to know.

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Shared with Senior Salon and Lets Create a Fine Chain…

A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery- Part 2

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Last week, when I cleaned out the three birdhouses in my back yard, I discovered that the nests inside of them were different sizes.  One had barely been started, the second was 2-3 inches tall and the third almost filled the bird house.

In Part 1 of this series, I showed photos of the bird houses and the nests and questioned why the one was so big. I also wondered why the big one had a flat top; there was no place for a nesting bird and her eggs to lay.

Several people who read my first post told me that the big one was a wren’s nest. One reader thought that the bird houses were too close together and that the wren who made the big nest had chased the two other nest builders away. Another reader joked that the bird who made the big nest must have had OCD! No one speculated about the flat top.

I did some investigation. After looking at photos of wrens’ nests, I realized that the readers were right; the big one was a wren’s nest. From an Audubon Field Guide, I learned that a male wren may build several nests. When the nests are finished, the female wren chooses between them. The guide went on to say that the male may build some incomplete “dummy” nests. After reading that, I realized that it was a good possibility that the same wren had built all three nests.

I took the big nest inside so that I could look at it closer. Once I removed the top layer, I discovered a section that looked like a plug. It was much denser than the rest of the nest.

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I wondered what the plug had been plugging. When I looked underneath the plug, I saw this:

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It sure looked like an area that could have been meant for the female and her eggs!

The Audubon Guide had mentioned that wrens may puncture the eggs of birds that are nesting nearby. It also said that a female wren may leave the male to take care of her eggs, and go nest with another male. I wondered, partially in a joking way, if the female had not approved of any of the nests her partner had built and had taken off to find another male. If that was the case, had the abandoned male decided to plug the nest and add a solid roof on top so no other bird could use it? How in the world had he built the plug? I was left with another set of questions.

After finding the plug and the place that might have been intended for the female, I went back to examining the whole nest. I discovered it was made up of at least ten different materials.

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I separated much of the nest into ten piles. The remainder looked like this.

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I took a sample of this conglomeration of substances  and looked at it under the microscope. I was mesmerized by what I saw. (Click on the gallery to enlarge the photos.)

I had intended to make this a two-part series but have decided to divide it in three instead. In Part 3, I will show you microscopic images of the ten types of materials I found when I separated the components of the nest!

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cropped-senior-salonShared on Senior Salon and Lets Create a Fine Chain…

For last segment go to: A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery- Part 3

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia

For the last year or so, I have thought about a microscope I owned as a child. I have no idea how old I was then, but I remember spending hours exploring the microscopic world and being fascinated by what I saw. Since it kept coming to my mind, I decided that “someday” I would buy another microscope.

Then this past summer I realized I could add microscopic shots to the photos I publish on this blog. I felt very thankful for the nostalgic memories that led me to that realization.

I purchased a dissecting microscope and began my new venture using an adapter that connects my iPhone to the microscope. I hope someday I have a system that allows me to take photos that more accurately reflect what I see when I look directly into the microscope, but this is a good beginning.

Earlier this week, I photographed a bush that drew my attention. It’s “flowers” were unusual to say the least. Below you will find microscopic views of three parts of that plant. You can click on the galleries to see an enlarged version of the photos.

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Red fruit

Brown “flower”

Black dying “flower”

This is what the whole plant looked like:

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Do any of you know the name of this plant? If you do, please share it with me and other readers!

Written for Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia

More About The Guardian

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Yesterday, I wrote a post about My “Frame” Adventure. During that adventure, I discovered a tree that I named Guardian. When I first walked close to the tree, I noticed that part of its bark was very feathery.

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I took a small piece of the feathery substance and looked at it with a microscope when I returned home.

I also used the microscope to examine one of the tree’s dried leaves I had picked up from the ground.

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When I went back to the park today for my Tai Chi class, I visited the Guardian first. I noticed that the base of the tree has a circumference of about 20 feet. I touched the tree and had a sense of “home.” Such power and majesty it radiates.

I love having the Tai Chi class in the park. I hope the weather permits us to keep meeting there throughout September. Two days ago, some of the students made a Yin Yang symbol out of leaves before the class. Today they made this one! No wonder I feel at home with this particular group of people. A sense of home twice in one day, and both of them prior to 8:30 a.m. I knew this was going to be a good day.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is to share a photo of something rare. I believe that the microscopic nature photos I have been sharing on my blog are rare. This is one I took yesterday of the center of an Echinacea flower.

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The Beauty of Chinese Lantern Pods

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I have long been fascinated by Chinese Lantern plants. One of my neighbors has them lining the fence in front of her yard. In reading about them for this post, I learned they are nightshades, and therefore are related to tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

I try not to pluck any bloom before its time so have never had the opportunity to look at the pods closely. However, when I walked by the house yesterday, one of the pods was lying in the middle of the sidewalk. I took it home and began my investigation! What follows is a mixture of camera and microscopic photos.

(You can enlarge the photos by clicking on any of the galleries.)

The pod itself has a consistency similar to a heavy paper. When I opened it, I discovered that it was not the hollow object I had thought it to be. The red ball I found inside was striking, and it did indeed seem similar to a ripe tomato.

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When I opened the fruit, it looked even more like a tomato. One of the things I learned later was that the fruit is edible when it is ripe, although not very tasty, but it is poisonous when it is not ripe. I felt relieved I had had the intuition that I should wash my hands after cutting it open.

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Using the microscope I had the privilege of once again viewing the beauty and intricacies of nature.

Here are photos of the pod from the outside

and the inside.

 The stem has multiple colors and features.

Here is what the bottom of the pod looks like.

Once I opened the pod, I found the shiny red fruit and the part that connects the fruit to the pod to be so interesting.

 My favorite views came when I looked inside the fruit.

I hope you enjoyed this journey into the Chinese Lantern pod. I sure did.

Following My Intuition

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When I was at Amma’s Amritapuri ashram in India last fall, I took a Tai Chi class for the first time. I fell totally in love with it. My top priority on returning to Seattle was to find a Tai Chi teacher. Within a short period of time, I found Viola Brumbaugh. She was exactly the type of teacher I was looking for. I immediately enrolled in her classes, and started attending them two times a week.

My joy was short-lived though. I had returned to Seattle in mid-January and in mid-February I hurt my back doing litter pick-up without using a litter pick-up tool. I have congenital spondylolithesis and scoliosis and have had problems with my back throughout my life.

In the past when my back pain has flared, it has only lasted two or three weeks at the most. This time, month after month went by and I was still unable to stand in one place or sit for very long. Driving was and is particularly uncomfortable. There has also been more nerve involvement than I have had during previous flare ups.

About a week ago, I sensed that I had reached a point where I could start doing Tai Chi again. It seemed like the classes might even promote my healing. So on Tuesday, even though I was still have problem standing in place, sitting and driving, I returned to class!

My intuition seems to be right. I’ve been to two classes now and have had no negative side effects. If anything, I feel better! And I am so happy to be learning Tai Chi once again.

One of the fantastic things about attending the class at this time of year, is that it is held in Lincoln Park, a large beautiful park in West Seattle. In addition to the joy of participating in this blessed practice under the huge trees, being there has given me the opportunity to take more tree photos. I took close ups of the tree below on Tuesday.

After taking the pictures, I ran my hand along the trunk to see if there were any loose pieces of bark. I took home a small piece of bark and something I am calling “orange plant debris” that was hanging on the tree. If you know what it is, please tell me!

Today I looked at those items under the microscope and took more photos!

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Orange plant debris

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