I haven’t seen coyotes in the backyard for several years, and I’ve never seen a pair of them hunting together.
There are still a pair of foxes in the neighborhood here, although I don’t know where their den is. Usually, coyotes won’t tolerate foxes in their territory and will kill them or drive them away, so I hope this coyote pair decide to move on to another area — I like having the foxes visit with their kits in the spring.
The Chiracahua mountains of southeastern Arizona offer a multitude of scenic vistas, as well as a bounty of incredible wildlife to see.
The Chiricahua Mountains rise more than 6,000 feet above the desert floor that surrounds them, making them “islands in a sea of desert”. A variety of life zones occur along a gradient from hot, dry desert to cool pine forest at peak elevation, which means these montane islands are a hot spot of biodiversity.
El Rocío is a very unusual town in the Andalusian region of southern Spain where the streets are wide, sandy, and unpaved, and hitching posts are provided in front of every home, hotel, and restaurant to tie up your horse(s). This quaint town in the center of Spain’s (and Europe’s) largest natural reserve, Doñana, is renown not only for its unusual buildings and streets but as the destination of the annual pilgrimage that takes place each year in June.
I have wanted to see the Panama Canal from the “inside” for some time. My great uncle, a railroad civil engineer from Iowa, went to work there in the early 1900s, to assist John Stevens (who was appointed by Teddy Roosevelt to oversee the whole canal project) with completing the railroad that would carry tons of dirt away from the canal construction.
The U.S. took over the Canal project from France in 1904, and within a decade had engineered one of the most difficult and dangerous constructions ever undertaken — a canal to connect the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans through a narrow isthmus of land in Panama. Instead of engineering a flowing river between the two oceans (which are actually 22 cm different in height), Stevens envisioned moving ships through a series of locks to raise ships up from the Pacific to a reservoir and then lower them again to the Atlantic side.
But it isn’t the engineering feats that I want to showcase here. The canal could never have been completed without solving the real dangers of working in this part of Panama: yellow fever and malaria, which killed tens of thousands of French and Americans in the early stages of canal construction.
Along with Stevens, Teddy Roosevelt appointed Colonel William Gorgas (a physician by training) as chief sanitation officer, with the charge of eradicating yellow fever and controlling malaria in the nearly 500 square miles of dense canal-zone jungle. Fortunately, Gorgas knew from previous research on these diseases that they were a result of mosquito-borne infections, and not transmitted person to person through the air like a flu. His campaign enlisted 4,000 workers in “mosquito brigades” to clean up mosquito breeding areas by draining swamps and spreading oil on the surface of standing water, installing window screens and tight-fitting doors in living areas, fumigating living and working areas with pyrethrum insecticide and sulfur, and establishing protocols for administration of anti-malaria medication.
Two years after establishing intensive sanitation protocols, the two diseases had nearly been eliminated, and the productive construction of waterways and locks began. Gorgas was as much a hero of the Panama Canal construction as Stevens and the engineers who followed him on the project. Obviously, without controlling the disease and protecting the health of canal workers, the project could never have been completed.
I haven’t seen many rare plants outside of Hawaii, but there is one oak tree species (Englemann Oaks) that has an incredibly limited range in southern California, making it a very rare plant in the U.S. Englemann Oaks used to be found on dry grassland mesas up to 4,000 feet in southern California. But their preferred climate/vegetation zone is also where humans like to build houses, and thus, their distribution has shrunk drastically to a narrow strip along the foothills of southern California mountains from Pasadena into San Diego county.
We visited the Santa Rosa plateau, an almost 10,000 acre Nature Conservancy preserve near Murietta, CA to get a look at these rare oaks.
Despite there being a lot of oaks in this area, there were surprisingly few Acorn woodpeckers, and i only saw a handful of them flying from tree to tree. However, there were a few other typical chaparral birds present on this overcast, windy day.
Have you ever wondered why the turkey is the target of our Thanksgiving meal and not squirrel or deer or rabbit? I’m always glad to see them stroll through the backyard, but sad that we produce so many of their cousins just to celebrate a holiday.
on this day of Thanks, I want to thank my many blog readers for their interest and insights. I hope you have a wonderful holiday and celebrate birds in one way or another!