Flutters & Flowers~

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The flutters rest their silken wings,
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drawn by the sweetly fragrant flowers.
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The flowers beckon,
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so the flutters fly.
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And the garden sings,
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with the joy of spring!
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Cheers to you from the flutters & flowers~

Imani’s Newborn~

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Imani is a 18 year old lowland gorilla at the San Diego Wild Animal Park and this is her newborn baby delivered on March 12, 2014. (Please click to enlarge).

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This is the 17th gorilla born at the Wild Animal Park. The baby was delivered by cesarean section and born with a collapsed lung and severe pneumonia. The neonate had surgery at birth, was treated for the pneumonia, and reunited with her mother at age 12 days.
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Mama Imani has basically not put the baby down since the reunification.
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Gorillas are such good mamas and could teach humans a thing or three about maternal child bonding.
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The baby’s head lolls when it falls asleep. Mama is always holding baby’s hand as you can see in these pics.
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Mama Imani was also a surrogate mother to Frank, now a five year old gorilla. She is still quite attached to Frank. All the park gorillas live in a troop with a silverback male leader you will see below.
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Gorillas are an endangered species with approximately 100,000 left in the wild. There are however only 300 Cross River Gorillas and 720 Mountain Gorillas still alive in the wild. Mountain gorillas cannot survive in captivity, so if something dramatic isn’t done soon, they will be gone without a trace. Gorillas are poached for meat and trophies, and their habitat is being decimated. Humans of course are primates like gorillas, and we share over 99% of our DNA with our gorilla cousins.
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One of the troop juveniles.
The San Diego Wild Animal Park is a special place. It is a non-profit organization that focuses on protecting and helping endangered species reproduce. Animals that are extinct in the wild are reproducing and being protected here until they can safely be reintroduced to the wild. It is not a zoo, with animals in cages, but a vast park where animals roam in herds and live in family groups. If you have a chance, and care about endangered animals, I would recommend a visit.
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The papa, troop silverback male.
My son Matt volunteered for a year at the Institute for Conservation Research at the Wild Animal Park, before going to graduate school in wildlife biology. This non-profit organization is a world leader in research for the protection of endangered species. Check it out:

http://www.sandiegozooglobal.org/

http://www.sandiegozooglobal.org/ICR/purpose

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Cheers to you from these magnificent gorillas, our gentle, kinder cousins!
For more info check out:

http://www.saveagorilla.org/60-Questions.html

Flying Flowers~

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Wow! Did I have fun today! The San Diego Wild Animal Park had their spring Butterfly Encounter and this was the first year I was home to see it. The butterflies flew around you in an open-air aviary. (Please click to enlarge).
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We all were mesmerized. I was blown away by how gentle the little children were, cupping their hands to protect the landing butterflies.
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See for yourself, the butterflies were ethereal!
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The flowers were pretty amazing too~
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It was wonderful to be reminded how much children naturally love our planet’s creatures.
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The butterflies reminded me of the ones I saw in Iguazu Falls who loved to hitch rides on humans.
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You had to be inspected before you left to make sure you weren’t carrying out a hitchiker!
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They were not the least bit afraid.
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What an amazing experience!
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I almost made it out with this hitchiker on me!
Cheers to you from our planet’s amazing flying flowers~

Look Me in the Eye: Birds~

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I think birds understand more about us than we do about them. This penguin seemed to have me figured out. I had no idea what was on his mind. He seemed quite curious and unafraid. But, if he didn’t like me he is perfectly capable of regurgitating his stomach contents at me to discourage my presence. All I can say is that I am glad he seemed to like me! Birds in the far southern latitudes are less afraid of humans because they see much less of them. Smart birds.

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Owls have stereoscopic vision and incredible hearing. They can detect the vertical location of sound origin by differential recognition in each ear.

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Did you know seagulls like this guy in a La Jolla hotel stole silver napkin rings off guest tables for years and flew away with them. Years later, during renovations, a huge pile of the napkin rings was found in an old bell tower.

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When I look birds in the eye, I see an uncanny intelligence there. It is especially obvious with the raptors like this Sea Eagle,

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Harris Hawk,

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Hawk Eagle

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and the Red Tail Hawk. There is an IQ scale that has been developed for birds. Hawks are among the most intelligent.

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Corvids like ravens, crows and magpies, remember the faces of people who do bad things to them for years. Most wild birds must be quite accustomed to a human before they will let you get anywhere near them. Smart birds. Starlings like this Superb Starling are capable of understanding grammatical rules and are being studied by linguists because their vocal recognition abilities surpass those of Tamarin monkeys.

Who said bird-brained meant dumb?

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Must have been some human-brain, who never took much time to get to know birds. The roadrunners have our daily routine down pat! They are surreptitious spies, and like to watch us when they know we won’t see them. They jump on a patio table and spy on Jim when he eats breakfast. They spy on both of us while we sleep. I often crack one eye open in bed in the morning to see the roadrunner staring at me through the French Doors. They let me get close…….when they feel like it.

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Parrots are being studied for their logical thinking abilities that are said to be similar to that of a four year old child and the great apes. Birds cognitive abilities currently being studied include their ability to count, distinguish visual and auditory signals, use tools, learn through observation, engage in sophisticated communication and they are even being studied for possessing a “theory of mind,” being able to predict how other animals (read humans) will behave.

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Smart birds. This Thrasher in Tortola is taking the measure of me. If you take some time to look a bird in the eye, you may see an intelligent creature looking right back at you.

I wonder what they think of us?

Cheers to you from all the world’s wonderful, and quite clever, birds~

For more info check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_intelligence

April Air Stirs In~

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April air stirs in
Willow-leaves…a butterfly
Floats and balances~
Matsuo Basho

Ranunculus (Please click to enlarge).

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The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year?
Mark Twain

Rock Rose

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Behold, my friends, the spring is come: the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love-
Sitting Bull

Rose of Sharon

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Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems~
Rainer Maria Rilke

Lions Ear

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With the coming of spring I am calm again~
Gustav Mahler

Foxglove

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April has Put a Spirit of Youth in Everything~
William Shakespeare

Peace Lily

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In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt~
Margaret Atwood

Mexican Evening Primrose

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Why not get some dirt on your hands, and everywhere else too???  Hope the joyful blooms of spring bring their magical cheer your way~

Snapdragons & Ranunculus

Wilderness Gardens~

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The Holler is surrounded by thousands of acres of pristine, reserved-riparian backcountry habitat. One such nearby preserve is the 737 acre Wilderness Gardens that we visit often for hiking and picnicking.
(Please click to enlarge).
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The area was home to Luiseno Indians for thousands of years and grinding stones can be found with a careful eye. Today the preserve is located between the present day Pala and Pauma Indian Reservations.
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Settlers moved into the area in the 1800′s, and a grist mill was built in 1881.
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In the 1950′s, the publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News bought the property and filled it with flowers and gardens, including 1000 Camellia trees, his wife’s favorite flower.
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The ponds were created by damming the creek to provide irrigation for his gardens.
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The preserve has returned mostly to it’s natural state, but the ponds remain and are filled with beautiful, nesting, aquatic birds, some quite exotic.
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Mountain Lion and Bobcats live here, as well as many other wild animals and birds.
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Beautiful evidence of the old gardens remain.
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Soon the nesting bird’s broods will be hatching, and it is always a thrill to see the fluffy hatchlings venture out for their first pond swim. I’ll try and get you some snaps!
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Cheers to you from the always peaceful and quite Zen-like, Wilderness Gardens Preserve.

You’re Lighter Than Air~

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with your fist holding tight, to the string of your kite~

Mary Poppins

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Have you ever considered how many human stressors, worries and blues, could be temporarily banished by a simple afternoon, in a stiff wind, flying a kite?DSC02977

It’s hard not to smile and laugh when your flying a kite, at least when you successfully get it in the air.  But then, the crashes are pretty funny too!

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And it’s difficult to be depressed, and smiling and laughing, at the same time.

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There is something about flying a kite that brings out the joy of the child, no matter how long buried, in all of us.

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If you don’t believe me, look at these people. I’m sure all of them have a lot of worries. (I have been a therapist for thirty years, trust me on this).

But right now? Flying kites? Not so much.

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So if life is getting you down?

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Why not go fly a kite?

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Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back~
Anais Nin

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Possibly some happiness and good cheer, which I am also sending to you!