Thursday, February 28, 2013

Season of the Coyote

Coyote track in my woods after fresh snowfall/ photos by Jonathan Schechter
The coyote breeding season is well underway in Michigan. I am delighted at their
 primordial music of yelps and howls I now hear often at night from the far end of my
 woods and the swampland beyond. But my best pleasure comes from seeing the tracks of two coyotes on the land I share with them; a mated pair is my hope for without the presence of
 coyotes the landscape is less natural and less wild. And it is the coyote that keeps the wild in 
the deer, and the turkey and the grouse wary.
And that is the way it should be.

I followed their tracks to the edge of the swamp catching a momentary fleeting glimpse.
And I suspect 'my' coyotes are leaning my ways and wanderings faster than I discover their ways.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Glacial Erratics: Gifts from the last Ice Age

A glacial erratic at Independence Oaks County Park in Oakland County, Michigan
photo by Jonathan Schechter  Feb/2013

You might call them landscape boulders.  But the proper name of these beautiful,
 often multi-colored boulders of ancient rock ripped from the Canadian Shield and 
carried south by the last great glacier some 11,000 years  ago is glacial erratic.  
Definition of glacial erratic:   A glacial erratic is a boulder transported and deposited
 by a glacier  having a lithology different than the bedrock upon which it is sitting.

I look at one particular glacial erratic as a friend, a very old friend. It is found along
 the  Lakeshore Trail of Independence Oaks County Park  in Oakland County, Michigan 
just six miles from my house.  I always stop to admire the boulder when hiking or 
cross country skiing the trail.  And this slab of glacial history and geology serves as
 a reminder of the ability of nature to  adapt to harsh environments; for even
 in winter  one can see primitive lichens and mosses that have  establish a foothold.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Space Rock: Near Earth asteroid heading our way!

Asteroid image courtesy of NASA
    The world is not going to end on Friday!
The asteroid, half the size of a football field will miss impact by 20,000 miles.
I'm safe. You are safe. And just like 65 million years ago, dinosaurs are safe.
Here are facts from and the science geeks at NASA.
(Click on the dark brown links for more detail)

This Friday (Feb. 15), asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly by Earth in  an unprecedented close approach. The event marks the closest-ever known approach by  such a large
 near-Earth asteroid, and gives scientists a rare chance to take a good look at a space
 rock as it whizzes  by Earth To prepare for the historic event, here are some frequently
 asked questions  about asteroid 2012 DA14, how it's monitored and what to
 expect during the flyby. 

And the folks from LiveScience add:  Friday's flyby is record-breaking; 
skywatchers have never before recorded an asteroid of this size passing so close to Earth. 
Unrecorded close calls are another story. 
In 1908, a hunk of space rock about 
150 feet  in diameter screamed into the atmosphere near the Tunguska 
River in Siberia. The asteroid or comet fragment the size of our White House broke
 up explosively in the atmosphere, leveling more than 800 square miles of forest. 
 [The 10 Greatest Explosions Ever]  Fortunately, the Tunguska Event happened in an 
extremely remote area, with the nearest human eyewitnesses miles away. 
But a rock like the one that caused the Tunguska Event, or like the one that will zip
 by Earth Friday, could level Washington D.C., and its suburbs, said Mark Boslough, 
a physicist at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, who has used computer
 modeling to recreate the Tunguska impact.

P.S. The dinosaurs forgot to duck 65 million years ago!

   Final word: Near Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 will have a very close pass near Earth on 
February 15, 2013. It will sweep by approximately 20,000 miles from Earth.
 That is closer than the moon’s orbit and closer than satellites. 
 It will not strike our planet. 
It may spawn a media frenzy!


Friday, February 8, 2013

Open house at the bird feeder: blue wings & red bellies

all photos by Jonathan Schechter  Feb 8, 2013 


With winds howling and tree branches swaying the suet feeder just yards from my window
 spawned a flurry of activity. Although ALL birds and squirrels are welcomed at my 
feeder, I was delighted to have a red-bellied woodpecker and a half dozen eastern 
bluebirds join the feathered feeding frenzy this morning. 

And they best be wary, for by bringing birds to one point in an unnatural gathering 
another bird,  the Cooper's hawk may drop by for lunch: Nature's way - altered by man.

"My turn next?" perhaps that is the thought of this bluebird

Smart bluebird: Hunkered down among the thorns beneath the feeder

Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter Driving: It's all about the driver!

        Just north of Baldwin, Michigan Feb 2, 2013
photo by Jonathan Schechter

Every time there is a snowfall or an icy road crashes occur.
 (Crash is more accurate than accident.)
And the media always blames the weather and road conditions.
Perhaps it time that instead of proclaiming "Poor road conditions caused 50 accidents"
the  media states the truth:  "50 drivers travelling too fast for conditions crashed."

And as for the photo above, the driver wisely chose not to pass the plow.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Groundhog Day Shadows in a world of climate change!

Groundhog photo by Jonathan Schechter,  Summer of 2012
And yes, groundhogs climb trees!

Groundhog Day! And that brings the same old question:  What does it mean if  this
creature  sees or does not see its shadow on Feb 2nd?

Here is the answer!

If the groundhogs sees its shadow it means climate change is real,
global warming is not myth.
Ice caps are melting,  glaciers retreating,  sea water  rising, more drought and dust storms, warming
 oceans, changing rain and snow and storm patterns and wildfires become more severe.
Humans that deny these facts are out of tune with the reality of science.
The science of climate change is complex, but the basics are simple:   Earth is heating up because
 gases produced by  our vehicles, power plants and other sources are building up in the atmosphere
 and act like a heavy blanket over Planet Earth.
And without science we live in fantasy world of myth.

If the groundhog does not see its shadow it means climate change is real,
global warming is not  myth.
Ice  caps  are  melting, glaciers retreating, sea water rising,  more drought and dust storms, warming
oceans, changing rain and snow and storm patterns and wildfires become  more severe.
Humans that deny these facts are out of tune with the reality of science.
The science of climate change is complex, but  the basics are simple:   Earth is heating up because
 gases  produced by our vehicles, power plants and other sources are building up in the atmosphere
 and act like a heavy  blanket over Planet Earth.
And without science we live in fantasy world of myth.