Birding India: Okhla Bird Sanctuary

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India is a fascinating country, diverse, multicultural, and intense. It assaults your senses. From the flavorful, spicy food to the bright colors, honking cars and trucks (it’s considered polite to let others know you’re there), and constant motion of both pedestrians and traffic, it’s easy to overload. I love India, but it wears me out!

We landed in Delhi after an uneventful flight from Bangkok, collected our baggage, and piled into a taxi for the ride to the hotel. Because we were there primarily for my husband to attend some meetings, any birding I managed to fit in would have to be local. Would I find any birds in a city of 25 million? Continue reading

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Persistent Perennials

Lychnis coronaria - Rose Campion @DBG LAH 033We had our first hard freeze over a month ago. Most of the deciduous plants and perennials in my yard are now dormant—some with dry brown leaves still attached, others with bare stems. But remarkably, not everything looks dead. In fact, a surprising number of plants still sport green foliage.

I’ve often chosen or rejected a plant for my garden based on when it leafs out in the spring. Too early and the tender new leaves are withered by a late snow. Too late, and half the season is gone before the yard looks complete. But I never considered the other end of the season—how long will the plant stay green before going to sleep for the winter?

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Misplaced Birds

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This is NOT a Saker Falcon!

I was happily immersed in a amusing story—a bathtub-reading kind of book, long on entertainment and short on talent—when I was rudely interrupted by a glaring error—at least glaring to me. The heroine was hiking in the Montana wilderness. The author waxed poetic about the deep green evergreens, the sparkling white snow, curious deer peering from the thickets, and the Saker Falcon wheeling overhead. Wait! What? What’s a Eurasian falcon doing in Montana? Continue reading

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November Bird Quiz: Uncropped Photo

If you were stymied on Monday, now can you name this bird? The photo was taken in Arizona in April. The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

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A Garden Photo Contest

Are you a gardener? Do you take photos of your plants? If so, you might want to know about the National Gardening Association’s annual photo contest.

I hesitated to share this with you—after all, I intend to enter and advertising the contest just increases my competition. On the other hand, I love seeing the pictures other photographers create. You give me ideas. You inspire me. I can learn from you.

If you need some help, I’ll be posting a series on garden photography—after the contest ends! ( I know. I’m being mean.) Meanwhile, you can look at all the photos I’ve included in my garden posts over the years. Then check out the series I did a while back on bird photography. Many of the techniques and tips are the same. Simply type “photography” in the blog search box, or choose “Photography” from the drop-down category list at right.

I’ll look forward to seeing your entries.

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November Bird Quiz

Can you name this bird? The photo was taken in Arizona in April. I will post the uncropped photo on Saturday, giving you one more chance to identify this bird. The answer will appear at the end of next Monday’s post.

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Do Houseplants Reduce Stress?

Are you stressed? You should grow houseplants! Just ask all the experts. Try an online search and you’ll come up with almost two million sites claiming that growing plants reduces stress. Even the National Institute of Health has jumped on the bandwagon with a study “proving” that houseplants reduce both physical and psychological stress, at least in young men.

Unlike the articles that tout huge benefits in air quality from including plants (especially spider plants) in your home (NASA said it so it must be true—but see my post here), there may actually be some basis for the stress-reduction theories. Or not.

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