Tag Archives: ducks

Order in Disorder

Order in Disorder

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Chaos is the score upon which reality is written.

HENRY MILLER

Click to see the music video: Order in Disorder

 

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“Peace and the survival of life on earth as we know it are threatened by human activities which lack a commitment to humanitarian values.

Destruction of nature and nature resources results from ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the earth’s living things. This lack of respect extends even to earth’s human descendants, the future generations who will inherit a vastly degraded planet if world peace does not become a reality, and destruction of the natural environment continues at the present rate.

Our ancestors viewed the’ earth as rich and bountiful, which it is. Many people in the past also saw nature as inexhaustibly sustainable, which we now know is the case only if we care for it.

It is not difficult to forgive destruction in the past, which resulted from ignorance. Today, however, we have access to more information, and it is essential that we re-examine ethically what we have inherited, what we are responsible for, and what we will pass on to coming generations.

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Clearly this is a pivotal generation. Global communication is possible.”

 ~Dalai Lama, An Ethical Approach to Environmental Protection

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Ducks Delight

Ducks Delight

 

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Growing up in the metropolis, the ducks and geese and squirrels that are the essential residents of parks hold a special fondness for me. I love feeding ducks and observing these intelligent, trusting species as they frolic with the nature loving people.

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Supposing you are not all that familiar with the species, here’s brief account about Ducks:

Duck is the common name for a large number of species in the Anatidae family of birds, which also includes swans and geese.

They are mostly aquatic birds, smaller than the swans and geese, and may be found in both fresh water and sea water. And this makes them perfect residents of Parks to the delight of many. A male duck is called a drake and the female duck is called a duck.

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The duck’s body is elongated and broad, and they are somewhat long-necked, albeit not as long-necked as the geese and swans.

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 The bill is usually broad and contains serrated lamellae (it contains rows of tiny plates that line their teeth), to help them filter water out of their beaks without losing food.

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These are particularly well defined in the filter-feeding species. In the case of some fishing species the bill is long and strongly serrated. If you look up close you see that along the edge of the beak there is a comb-like structure called pectin.

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This strains the water squirting from the sides of the beak and taps any food. The pectin is also used to preen feathers and to hold slippery food items.

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The scaled legs are strong and well developed, and generally set far back on the body, more so in the highly aquatic species.

 The wings are very strong and are generally short and pointed, and the flight of ducks requires fast continuous strokes, demanding strong wing muscles.

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Many species of duck are temporarily flightless while moulting; they seek out a protected habitat with good food supplies during this period. This moult typically precedes migration.

Delightfully the drakes of the northern species often have extravagant plumage, but that is moulted in summer to give a more female-like appearance, the “eclipse” plumage. The plumage of juvenile birds generally resembles that of the female.

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 Ducks have a have complex structure of capillaries on their feet which help to regulate the blood flow and stops their feet from getting cold.

 Because ducks have webbed feet they move in a waddling motion. At the same time this feature allows them to paddle and swim in the water more smoothly.

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When they swim, they push their feet back in a kicking motion so that the webbing catches the water and sweeps it behind the duck. On the return stroke, the webbing on the foot of the duck closes up which allows the duck to have less water resistance and to travel faster.

The sustenance of the ducks is comprised of variety of food sources such as grasses, aquatic plants, fish, insects, worms, small molluscs and small amphibians.

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The diving ducks and sea ducks often forage deep underwater. They are able to submerge more easily, being heavier than their cousin the dabbling duck is.  They also have more difficulty taking off for flight.

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Dabbling ducks, usually found in parks, feed on the surface of the water of lakes and ponds or on land, or as deep as they can reach by up-ending without completely submerging.  A few specialized species such as the mergansers are adapted to catch and swallow large fish.

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The others have the characteristic wide flat beak adapted to dredging -type jobs such as pulling up waterweed, pulling worms and small molluscs out of mud, searching for insect larvae, and bulk jobs such as dredging out, holding, turning headfirst, and swallowing a squirming frog.

To avoid injury when digging into sediment it has no cere (a waxy structure which covers the base of their bill) but the nostrils come out through hard horn.

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Female dabbling ducks often make the classic “quack” sound, but despite widespread misconceptions, most species of duck do not “quack”.

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 In general, ducks make a wide range of calls, ranging from whistles, cooing, yodels and grunts.

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And finally, the ducks are generally monogamous, although these bonds generally last a single year only. Most duck species breed once a year, choosing to do so in the favourable conditions of spring or the wet seasons.

 Ducks also tend to make a nest before breeding, and after hatching lead their ducklings to water. Mother ducks are very caring and protective of their young.

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Enjoy this video of Ducks eating peanuts:  http://youtu.be/4avD2aWPJ4g

Here’s an Old North American Indian Legend, a cautionary tale for you to enjoy:

 

The Falcon and the Duck

 

“The wintry winds had already begun to whistle and the waves to rise when the Drake and his mate gathered their half- grown brood together on the shore of their far northern lake.

“Wife,” said he, “it is now time to take the children southward, to the Warm Countries which they have never yet seen!”

Very early the next morning they set out on their long journey, forming a great “V” against the sky in their flight. The mother led her flock and the father brought up the rear, keeping a sharp lookout for stragglers.

All day they flew high in the keen air, over wide prairies and great forests of northern pine, until toward evening they saw below them a chain of lakes, glittering like a string of dark-blue stones.

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Swinging round in a half circle, they dropped lower and lower, ready to alight and rest upon the smooth surface of the nearest lake. Suddenly their leader heard a whizzing sound like that of a bullet as it cuts the air, and she quickly gave the warning: “Honk! honk! Danger, danger!” All descended in dizzy spirals, but as the great Falcon swooped toward them with upraised wing, the ducklings scattered wildly hither and thither. The old Drake came last, and it was he who was struck!

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“Honk, honk!” cried all the Ducks in terror, and for a minute the air was full of soft downy feathers like flakes of snow. But the force of the blow was lost upon the well-cushioned body of the Drake, he soon got over his fright and went on his way southward with his family, while the Falcon dropped heavily to the water’s edge with a broken wing.

There he stayed and hunted mice as best he could from day to day, sleeping at night in a hollow log to be out of the way of the Fox and the Weasel. All the wit he had was not too much whereby to keep himself alive through the long, hard winter.

Toward spring, however, the Falcon’s wing had healed and he could fly a little, though feebly. The sun rose higher and higher in the blue heavens, and the Ducks began to return to their cool northern home.

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Every day a flock or two flew over the lake; but the Falcon dared not charge upon the flocks, much as he wished to do so. He was weak with hunger, and afraid to trust to the strength of the broken wing.

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One fine day a chattering flock of Mallards alighted quite near him, cooling their glossy breasts upon the gently rippling wave.

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“Here, children,” boasted an old Drake, “are the very spot where your father was charged upon last autumn by a cruel Falcon! I can tell you that it took all my skill and quickness in dodging to save my life. Best of all, our fierce enemy dropped to the ground with a broken wing! Doubtless he is long since dead of starvation, or else a Fox or a Mink has made a meal of the wicked creature!”

By these words the Falcon knew his old enemy, and his courage returned. “Nevertheless, I am still here!” he exclaimed, and darted like a flash upon the unsuspecting old Drake, who was resting and telling of his exploit and narrow escape with the greatest pride and satisfaction.

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“Honk! honk! “Screamed all the Ducks and they scattered and whirled upward like the dead leaves in autumn; but the Falcon with sure aim selected the old Drake and gave swift chase. Round and round in dizzy spirals they swung together, till with a quick spurt the Falcon struck the shining, outstretched neck of the other, and snapped it with one powerful blow of his reunited wing.

Do not exult too soon; nor is it wise to tell of your brave deeds within the hearing of your enemy.”

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The End

 

Fun at the Park

Fun at the Park

Outdoor activities are an integral part of every metropolitan life.  They offer a periodic reprieve from a regimented existence.  They are a necessary ingredient in the maintenance of good health for men, women and their pets.  Nothing surpasses a leisurely stroll down tree lined winding paths under a blossom laden canopy. Now and then you lend a casual ear and eye to the abundant life surrounding you: water fowl splashing in water, countless birds chirping their unique songs, studious tree dwellers with mouths overflowing with nuts and the occasional insects that come forth to check you out.  All this offers a vital regeneration for the soul.

This “Fun at the Park” series is made up of impressionist paintings that illustrate this feeling.

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Have a lovely Day.

Earth Day Apr 22, 2012

Earth Day Apr 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day Everyone!

Origin of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day: Feb 14, 2012

Part 1

The Origin of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, February 14, is an annual celebration celebrating love and affection between individuals. It is a day on which lovers express their feelings through flowers, confectionery, heart symbols, doves, greeting cards or even more creative means.

Originally it was established by Pope Gelasius in 496 AD to mark some of the early Christian martyrs Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. Needless to say, Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred around AD 269. Valentine of Terni became bishop of Interamna about 197 AD and was martyred during the persecution of Emperor Aurelian. This association persisted till 1969 when it was deleted from the General Roman calendar of saints by Pope Paul VI.  Actually no romantic elements existed in the medieval biographies of either of these martyrs. By the time a Saint Valentine became linked to romance in the 14the century any connection to Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni were completely lost.

Accordingly in the accounts of Legenda Aurea, St Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person; during which Claudius was impressed by Valentine and, through a lengthy discussion, strove to convert Valentine to Roman paganism in order to spare his life. Valentine not only refused, but also did his best to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Valentine was condemned to death however before his demise he performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer. Since the accounts of Legenda Aurea offered no connection to sentimental love a suitable tale was embellished in present times to depict Valentine as a priest who disobeyed the unjust law of Emperor Claudius II. This law had stipulated that, in order to build the Emperor’s army, young men were to remain single, on the assumption that married man made poor soldiers. The defiant priest Valentine, whenever the need arose, covertly performed several marriage ceremonies. When this was discovered Valentine was arrested and thrown in jail.  There is an interesting addendum, unsupported by historical fact, to this legend, provided of course by American Greeting to History.com. : Ostensibly on the evening just before Valentine was to be executed, he had written a note with the heading: “From your Valentine” addressed to the daughter of the jailer whom he had supposedly healed.  This was the first, and original, Valentine’s Card,

Some modern sources have linked vague Greco-Roman February holidays devoted to fertility and love to St. Valentine’s Day.  Lupercalia, an archaic rite connected to fertility, was observed Feb 13-15 in Rome.  Pope Gelasius I (492-496) abolished Lupercalia in favor of the two Valentines’ Saints Days.  Meanwhile, The Festival of Juno Februa, meaning “Juno the purifier” or “the chaste Juno”, was also celebrated on Feb 13-14.

The first recorded link of Valentine’s Day with romantic love was found in 1382, in the “Parlement of Foules” by Geoffrey Chauncer. It said:  “For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.” (For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird comes there to choose his mate.)

The poem was written as a tribute of the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. A treaty providing for a marriage was signed on May 2, 1381. When they were married eight months later, they were each only 15 years old. Many have supposed that Chaucer was referring to February 14 as Valentine’s Day; but as Henry Ansgar Kelly has pointed out, May 2 is the saints’ day for Valentine of Genoa. This St. Valentine was an early bishop of Genoa who died around AD 307.  Furthermore, Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules is set in a fictional context of an old tradition, but in fact there was no such tradition before Chaucer. More likely it is sentimental customs posing as historical fact.  Nevertheless, these were persistently linked with romantic love in the circle of Goeffrey Chauncer in the High Middle ages, when the convention of courtly love flourished. Professor Jack  Oruch of Kansas University, disputes Chauncer’s claim of the supposed connection between Saints named Veleninus and romantic love, on the hypothesis that it more likely be a sacrifice, such as in Ancient Greece during the time period between mid January to mid February (the month of Gamelion, the time reserved for celebrating the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera).

In 1400 the rituals of courtly love; a “High Court of Love” was established in Paris on Valentine’s Day.  In those days the court ordinarily dealt with love contracts, betrayals, and violence against women. Oddly enough Judges were selected by women on the basis of skill in poetry reading. The earliest surviving valentine is a 15th-century rondeau written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife. At the time, the duke was being held in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt, 1415. Here is an example:  Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…   (Charles d’Orléans, Rondeau VI, lines 1–2)

In Hamlet (1600-1601) Valentine’s Day is mentioned sorrowfully by Ophelia:

“To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber-door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.”

(William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5)

The popular verse:  Roses are red are traceable all the way back to Edmund Spencer’s epic The Faerie Queene (1590):

She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.

The modern clichéd Valentine’s Day poem can be found in the collection of English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784):

The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
the honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou are my love and I am thine
I drew thee to my Valentine

The lot was cast and then I drew,
and Fortune said it shou’d be you.”

In 1797 The Young Man’s Valentine Writer contained many suggested, suitably sentimental verses for the young lover incapable of composing one himself.  The next century saw readymade cards with verses and sketches that prospered due to the reduced postal rates and the possibility of anonymous exchange. You can grasp the popularity of Valentine’s sentiments in the otherwise prudish Victorian Era.  Even in the United States of 1847 the first mass-produced valentines of embossed paper lace were made by Esther Howland (1828–1904) of Worcester, Massachusetts gained ground and begun selling briskly shortly after. By 1849, as it was astutely stated by the writer Leigh Eric Schmidt in Graham’s American Monthly: “Saint Valentine’s Day… is becoming, nay it has become, a national holyday.” Indeed in the early 19th century attractive Valentine cards were being made with real lace, paper lace and ribbons and were assembled in many English factories. In the UK, just under half of the population spent their hard earned money on their Valentines and to date, more than 1.3 billion pounds are spent yearly on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts, and an estimated 25 million cards are sent.

In the second half of the 20th century, the practice of exchanging cards has expanded into a vast array of gift giving:  this includes roses and chocolates packed in red satin, heart-shaped boxes. In the 1980s, the diamond industry began to promote Valentine’s Day as an occasion for giving jewellery. Valentine exchange is no longer restricted to lovers. Many valentines are now given to family members other than the husband or wife, usually to children. The greeting cards of these students sometimes mention what they appreciate about each other and most of them are given to their teacher. In this digital age, millions have now adopted this means of creating and sending Valentine’s Day greetings in e-cards, love coupons or printable greeting cards. An estimated 15 million e-valentines were sent in 2010. Social media has played a great role in commercializing American’s Valentine’s Day Spending.

Wishing you all a Happy Valentine’s Day!