Friday, November 30, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: leather chitons, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Please post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Leather Chiton

Chitons like the West best. They're bigger and more abundant here, and there are more species along the Pacific Coast than on the Atlantic Coast--or just about anywhere else in the world.

Chitons (pronounced "KI-tuns") are marine snails with eight plates that make up their shells. Hard flesh called a girdle surrounds the valves and covers them to greater or lesser extent, depending on the species. 

Most chitons sit tight in a "home spot" all day, and wander around at night, scraping their food stuff, like algae, off rocks, and return to their usual spot by daybreak.

by Minette Layne
But the leather (or Katy) chiton eschews the customs of chiton society. This mollusk cruises the rocks any time of the day or night in a shiny, black, leatherlike girdle and scrapes up algae whenever it damn well feels like it.

One of the most conspicuous chitons on the rocky coast, the Katy is about 1 1/2 inches to 3 inches long, but occasionally reaches 5 inches. Its Latin name, Katharina tunicata, honors Lady Katherine Douglas, the naturalist who sent the first specimen of this species to England for study in 1813.

Have you ever seen a Katy/leather chiton?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

photo by Joanna Boj. 
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
~ Edward Burke

Friday, November 23, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: ptarmigans, camouflage, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below. 



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

White-tailed Ptarmigans

Unable to find a share-able photo of a white-tailed ptarmigan, I offer you instead
this closely-related rock ptarmigan ~ photo by brettocop on Flickr 
These pretty white birds are sometimes called snow grouse, but if you call them ptarmigans, remember to leave off the silent "p" when you ptalk about pthem.

They're not white all year-round, but from the photo you can see how handy it is to be white in the snow. These birds spend their whole lives trying to look like something else--something inedible. Snow, or in the summer, just another boulder in the talus of a mountain. 

Ptarmigans have camouflaging mottled brown feathers in the warmer months, which they achieve via a seasonal molt. As the days begin to lengthen, the white plumage gives way to the darker feathers. The molt begins at the head and progresses down the body, nicely matching the melting snow and emerging turf. From the time the molt begins, the birds avoid pure white expanses of snow. 

True to their names, the Pacific Northwest's white-tailed ptarmigans retain an edge of white feathers on their tails, as well as on their bellies or legs.

Have you ever managed to spot one of these beauties in the wild?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

by 

You must not know too much, or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers...; a certain free margin, and even vagueness--perhaps ignorance, credulity--helps your enjoyment of these things.
~ Walt Whitman

Friday, November 16, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: harpoons, narrow escapes, ships, or something from Monday's Nature Quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Please post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.          



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Escape of the Rainbow Warrior ... Greenpeace Days

In 1980, the good ship Rainbow Warrior was detained by the Spanish government over a disagreement about harpoons. Greenpeace thought they should be in a museum, and Spain thought they should be used to kill whales. Hence our crew putting themselves in little inflatable boats between the whaling ship and the whales, and thus the arrest of our flagship the Rainbow Warrior.

Which only led to another disagreement with Spain over money, in that we refused to give them any, while they wanted Greenpeace to pay them a half a million dollars to cover the cost of the whales we'd prevented them from killing. This stalemate resulted in our ship languishing at dock in the military town of El Ferrol.

Not only was the R Dub parked in the midst the modern-day Spanish Armada, it had been disabled by the removal of the thrust block, a vital part of the propeller shaft. And it was under 24-hour guard. And her bow was pointing toward shore.

So first things first. The skeleton crew that remained aboard began painting the side of the ship beside the dock. When that side was done, they sought and received permission to spin the ship around, using the rope lines, so they could paint the other side.

During this time, a replacement thrust block had been manufactured in the UK;  Tony smuggled it across the border in an old VW van. He drove into the military port and audaciously parked next to a police vehicle, then sauntered off to join the crew in their nightly pub crawl.

So far so good. Now the trick was to get the thrust block past the guards and onto the ship. For this, the crew used its own bad habits as cover. Late one night they staggered back from the bar, rowdy and boisterous. Athel peeled off from the group and stopped off at the van. He staggered onto the ship, apparently from drunkenness, but really under the weight of the thrust block; with the military police amused and distracted by the happy revelry of rest of the crew.

After they'll installed the thrust block (quietly, quietly!), Tony slipped over the side to check the state of the ship below sea line. The Rainbow Warrior had now spent five months at dock, and the hull of the 146-foot ship was coated with the seaweed. Tony was able to scrap off the stuff attached to the propeller, but the seaweed remaining on the hull worried the crew.

David noted that when the guards switched there were sometimes two or three  minutes when no one was closely watching the ship. So the crew watched the guards who watched the ship...and at the evening changing of the guard, the two men stepped briefly away, deep in conversation. The crew threw the lines aboard and--another miracle--the engine started up without complaint. 

The ship motored toward the sea, but the seaweed on the hull slowed them down. They could only make 7 knots, which is ridiculously slow. So ridiculous that when the Spanish navy realized the escape and started after the Rainbow Warrior, they passed our ship in the dark. The anxious crew could see the lights of a helicopter searching ahead of them. Instead of making a straight run across the channel to the UK, as Spain anticipated, the R Dub hugged the coast, and crept across the French border. 

By the time the crew made it to England, the cameras and the champagne and the cheers were waiting for them. 


The guys who brought back our ship:
Pierre Gleizes, Tony Marriner, Athel von Koettlitz, David McTaggart,
Cap't. Jon Castle, Tim Mark and Chris Robinson. 
(Want to read more about Greenpeace days? Click on the "Search this Blog" box to the right and enter the word Greenpeace.)  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

photo by Alan Vernon. on Flickr
An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.
~ Aldo Leopold

Friday, November 9, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: red-tailed hawks, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.           

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Red-tailed hawk

I find it very convenient that the Northwest's most common hawk has a conspicuous and identifying mark--the red tail for which it was named.


On sunny days you can often see them perched on utility poles along the highway, or soaring above searching for voles, mice, squirrels, and such.

The realization that red-tails weren't chicken killers started in the 1950s or '60s. Look in any bird book from that time and you're likely to find a plea that farmers stop shooting them out of the sky and a heartfelt defense against the accusations of them as "chicken hawks." In the nick of time, laws now protect all predatory birds.

Red-tails are also North America's most common hawk, but their coloration varies from east to west. They tend to be darker here in the West; occasionally they look almost black. But check out that handy-dandy red tail to help identify them.

Have you noticed red-tails perched along the highway? 


Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

Photo by INABA Tomoaki 
Simplicity in all things is the secret of the wilderness and one of its most valuable lessons. It is what we leave behind that is important...when in the wilds, we must not carry our problems with us or the joy is lost.
~Sigurd Olson

Friday, November 2, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: tufted puffins, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.