Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hungry as Vultures

VULTURES are quite common in our area, but usually in more rural parts. Imagine, then, our surprise when we saw one feasting on a delicious dead animal on a lawn not six feet from the road in a quiet neighborhood just behind the school. We stopped to snap a picture but the bird got spooked and flew onto the roof. Then we saw the others - a total of four waiting in a tree for us to leave so they could finish their lunch. In flight turkey vultures and black vultures are easy to distinguish from one another - turkey vultures have white wing tips and white feathers along the back of their wings; black vultures have white only on their wing tips. Up close, the grey heads (not red) gave these away as black vultures. Beauty could not be seen in the eyes of this carload of beholders; however we did appreciate the cleanup work they were doing. I bet the homeowner did too.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fossil Hunting

WHAT a treat to be taken fossil hunting by a friend's dad. The children had the best time digging around in the earth with old screwdrivers, and were delighted when they found impressions of plants and animals. Millions of years ago, this area in North Georgia was covered in swamp. Dead animals and plants fell into the water and were covered by many layers of mud, which eventually hardened into shale. In between these layers, hidden treasures wait to be discovered. We found brachiopods and crinoid stems. Crinoids are sea animals which resemble today's sea lilies. Brachiopods appear similar to today's bivalves such as clams, but researchers believe they are a distinctly separate group. Not quite as exciting as dinosaur bones, but almost.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Day of Spring... or Summer?

TODAY is the Spring Equinox. We are experiencing an abnormally warm March - in fact today marked the most consecutive March days over 80 degrees Fahrenheit on record (seven so far). We have broken out the shorts and T-shirts and plants are going crazy, thinking they somehow missed spring and it's summer already. A thick layer of yellow pollen lies over everything inside and out and butterflies and bees fly happily between blossoms. It's so beautiful! Red, pink and white azaleas, and in the woods native yellow-orange ones. Pink and white dogwood trees. Pink cherry blossom already snowing down. White flowers on holly bushes. Fragrant sweet bush. Stunning white pear trees. Delicate lilac wisteria. Whatever the season, the display is quite magnificent.