Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Student Science Experiment in Dänemark finds Plants won't grow near Wi-Fi router

Photo: girls from 9b

Ninth-graders in Dänemark design science experiment
to test the effect of cellphone radiation on Water Cress
plants. These surprising results are causing a stir in the
world's Scientific Communities.
I've been researching something which appears to be very very serious going on here in Sweden in both the wilds and Urban City gardens. I first noticed it when I first got home back from the United States, because all around my neighbourhood, these various different species of conifers are all dying at once and there seems to be no one species which is immune to this blight which I would call, "Fire Blight on Steroids". Every single kind of Cypress, Junipers, Cedars, and even some of the native Scots Pine are showing some effects. I tried to do a bit of Googling to find anyone else noticing this, but nothing yet. Although, many citizens here in Göteborg are talking about it. During the Google search, I stumbled across this story out of Dänemark which appeared around the middle of May 2013. Such a simple experiment and revealing given modern Mankind's addiction to everything electronic. 

What's incredible about this experiment was that it was created based on other observations and questions about an entirely different problem. The girls noticed that if they slept with their Cell or Mobile Phones near their heads at night, they had problems concentrating at school the next day. The school had no specialized equipment and facilities for testing out such an experiment, so it was decided that they would test out Cell Phone radiation on plants instead.

Photo courtesy of Kim Horsevad

These are what are known as KarseFrö (Lepidium sativum) or Garden Cress Seeds. There were six trays of the seeds which were put into a room without the effects of the radiation, and six trays of seeds which another room next to two routers. According to the girls, this way of experimenting emitted about the same type of radiation emitted by Cell Phones. Notice the healthy tray of seeds in the tray above which were grown in the room with no radiation influence from the Router whatsoever.


Photo courtesy of Kim Horsevad
They waited about twelve days, observed, measured, weighed and finally took pictures documenting growth along the way. The results really spoke for themselves. These Cress Seeds above grown inside the room with the Router had not grown and many that did were mutated or dead.
Photo: Kim Horsevad
From left to right: Lea Nielsen, Mathilde Nielsen, Signe Nielsen, Sisse Coltau, and Rikke Holm. The experiment secured these girls in the finals in the competition of "Young Scientists", but it was only the beginning as other outside interests have been impressed and want to repeat the experiment. Good for them and their teacher.
Researchers from other countries like Nederland (Netherlands), England and Sweden have shown interest. One of them here in Sweden is Olle Johansson, professor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. He will now an attempt to repeat this experiment with a Belgian research colleague, Professor Marie-Claire Cammaert at the Université  libre de Bruxelles, for trial. He had this comment about the girls below.
"The girls are within the scope of their knowledge and skills implementing and developing a very elegant job. The wealth of detail and accuracy is exemplary, choosing the right Garden cress is very intelligent, and I could go on."  
"I sincerely hope that they spend their future professional life to researching, because I definitely think they have a natural aptitude for it. Personally, I would love to see these people on my team." 
Olle Johansson 
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Article Source from Dänemark
http://www.dr.dk/Nyheder/Indland/2013/05/16/131324.htm
http://www.dr.dk/NR/rdonlyres/075641A4-F4D4-4ECF-834F-C0DAF2B8E1E1/5134851/Undersoegelse_af_nontermiske_effekter_af_mobilstra.pdf
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UPDATE: April 2014 from the USA
"Science Experiment by Grade-Schooler Shows That W-Fi Is Causing His Headaches and Deforms Growing Seeds"
Photo - Smart Meter Education Network
"An eight-year-old boy in Almont, Michigan was getting severe headaches when seated near the wireless projector in his classroom. They were so severe, he would come home crying from the pain. When he was seated away from the projector, his headaches stopped. For many people, who are even more sensitive than he is, increased distance from wireless device does not help, because the radiation is permeating the environment around them."
(Read further)
(original Story in Web-Archive)
Environmental Health Trust: Cell Phones And Wireless Radiation Can Lead To Headaches
This young boy after he was removed from the negative classroom environmental resulting from the WIFI apparently was further intrigued and with the help of his mother who herself is a biologist. Their experiment went a little further in observations.
"Aiden Fitch found the same thing. He grew one set of seeds at home, next to a laptop computer without wireless. He grew the second set in a home that has wireless. The seeds grown next to the wireless router were deformed.  The sprouts tasted different as well. Garden cress is a fast-growing herb with a peppery, tangy flavor and smell. The seed which grew in a home without wireless tasted strong and peppery—so much so that Aiden had to run for a glass of water. The Wi-Fi seeds tasted "like water," Aiden said.
Wow, so the taste taste also was revealing. But there is more, he replicated his experiment after the Danish experiment and got the same results. I find this fascinating since I haven't really heard anything from the Swedish researchers who promised to do the same thing. He also used normal local appliances the average person would use. The links are above.
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UPDATE December 2016 - Dr. Magda Havas, PhD
"Microwave radiation from wireless devices harms plants"
https://magdahavas.com/microwave-radiation-from-wireless-devices-harms-plants
"Effects of Wi-Fi Radiation on Germination and Growth of Broccoli, Pea, Red Clover and Garden Cress Seedlings"
Bentham Science: "Effects of Wi-Fi Radiation on Germination and Growth of Broccoli, Pea, Red Clover and Garden Cress Seedlings: A Partial Replication Study" 
Images - Dr Magda Havas PhD
Results: "The radiation from the Wi-Fi router did not affect germination of any of the species tested. However, there was a significant reduction in dry weight of the broccoli (86% of control) and peas (43% of control) exposed to Wi-Fi radiation at the end of the experiment (p<0.01). Wi-Fi exposure inhibited root growth of several species. It also caused root tips to turn brown and reduced root hairs of cress compared with the reference treatment. Broccoli seedlings closest to the Wi-Fi router grew away from the router; cress seedlings had larger leaves and were chlorotic compared with controls. Several small plants began to die and mould developed in those Petri plates." 
Conclusions: "Radiation from Wi-Fi reduces root and shoot growth, contributes to chlorosis, alters size of leaves, and reduces fine root hairs in several on the species tested. Radiation generated by a Wi-Fi router, at levels well below international guidelines for microwave radiation, adversely affects plant growth and may interfere with a plant’s ability to protect itself from opportunistic mould."
Interesting experiments and you can read further details abovee in the links I provided. They also used common household appliances we use today. No mention of any taste test differences. Too bad. Leave to kids to figure out more and push for more questions. Something further interesting is in the photo below and I've seen the same thing with other experiments. The plants exposed to WIFI do not like it and try and grow away frrom the direction of the WIFI radiation. Look below and see how they comment on this.

Images - Dr Magda 
Plate 1: Peas after 30 days exposure to microwave radiation from a Wi-Fi router on the left and to no microwave radiation (reference) on the right. A. Side view. B. Aerial view of root system. 
Plate 2: Broccoli after 28 days exposure to microwave radiation from a Wi-Fi router on the left and to no microwave radiation (reference) on the right. Arrow shows plants growing away from Wi-Fi router. 
Plate 3: Garden cress after 28 days exposure to microwave radiation from a Wi-Fi router on the left and to no microwave radiation (reference) on the right. Arrow points to larger leaves and signs of chlorosis. 
Plate 4: Red clover after 28 days exposure to microwave radiation from a Wi-Fi router on the left and to no microwave radiation (reference) on the right. Arrow points to fungal growth in seedlings exposed to Wi-Fi.
(Full Study Read)
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UPDATE January 2017 - SNOPES Lifted their Leg
https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/cress-wifi-experiment
Nothing much to really new to comment on here. As usual Snopes still claiming to be the last word on truth in our world basically lifted their leg again and trashed the Danish Student experiment, but also acknowledged the other plant experiments with brocoli, peas and Red Clover, but continued unimpressed. They briefly commented on Dr Magda Havas' work published in 2016, but remained unimpressed. Here is their final conclusion in summary:
"While this study did test the effects of Wi-Fi on other plants (broccoli, red clover, and peas) and purported to find negative effects on them, science is still waiting for a successful replication to the Danish cress study (as well as a replication of new results presented in this paper)."
But it's here for everyone to read just to be fair, I guess. 😒
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UPDATE Early 2019 - "Smooth Feather Pioneers of Science"
"In the spring of 2019 we started creating a short film series, “PIONEERS OF SCIENCE” with the Sacopee Valley Middle’s School’s 8th grade science class taught by Steve Bridges about Wi-Fi and its potential health risks. The students have been amazing to work with and the first experiment we did exposing cress seeds to Wi-Fi was incredibly powerful and thought provoking. We’re looking forward to running a number of experiments and documenting our different discoveries." 
Vimeo: Pioneers Of Science - Part 1
This is probably one of the more enjoyable Vimeo videos I have seen in a long while. The teacher does a masterful job of explaining the experiment, allowing kids to draw their own conclusions. Kids are allowed to express their disbelief in the beginning and their riveted enthusiasm from the results at the conclusions and they come up with more questions than they had at the start. I'd like to give commendation for the instructor as well because he's teaching them real science. Unlike most modern academic and environmental non-profit education programs, there was no stupid political indoctrination ideology pushed, no motivating kids to engage in civil disobedient protest movements, etc. Just the pure innocence of learning something important and expanding their minds in a healthy normal direction.
You can watch the film below or click on this youtube link


http://pioneersofscience.org
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UPDATE: December 2019
Personal Breaking News Story about my own Houseplants
We have two house plants in our livingroom with two windows on a south facing exposure of the building. Facing the windows from a viewpoint of the Wide Screen TV, we have two lounge chairs with a plant next to both chairs. The chair on the left side has a wall between it and my chair, but the chair on the right (wife's chair) has our ComHem WiFi setup for TV, Phone Service & High Speed Internet Service.
Image - My Wife - November 2019
In the beginning we noticed after a month after purchase that the plant next to the WIFI experienced periodic leaf drop, but nothing from the other plant. Later one left side of the plant completely dried up died and dried completely. Then the right side of the plant began to dry up and eventually died. The plant below is healthier with fuller lush foliage because it is furthest away from the WIFI and protected a bit by my chair. 
Image - My Wife - November 2019
Sadly this experience would probably not even come close to passing the SNOPES test for Factoidal Truth because, well, I'm not a scientist, researcher nor do I have any Alphabet Soup initials behind my name on a business card to advertise my credentials as being some kind of an expert in anything. 😒






Sunday, June 23, 2013

Always Collecting Seeds & Plants

Even when I have no Place to put them
Alligator Juniper in Anza CA
This morning I replied to a comment post on my Alligator Juniper post to Palomar & Southwestern Colleges Biology Teacher Robyn Waayers. The post was about an Alligator Juniper I had collected while on a visit up Carr Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains above Sierra Vista, Arizona. The tree of course was only about six inches tall, but as I showed in the photo of it which I took at the end of May 2013 this year, it is now about one meter high. Believe it or not, the present property owners don't even know the tree is there. Anyway, it also got me thinking other things I have collected over the years, even collecting things when I have no real place to put them. Seeds are some of those things. Both in California and here in Sweden, I have stashes of seeds in plastic bags everywhere. Sometimes I use them and often not. I suppose I have sort of ScrubJay tendencies. Robyn commented on the uniqueness of those mountains and she is correct. These mountains along with the Santa Ritas to the west and Chiracahuas to the east are unique in that Tropical and Temperate species of all forms of life come together and blend beautifully. Birds, Animals, Plants, everything. I hate to admit it, but perhaps I should have collected in some of those areas. I'm sure there are some rules written somewhere against it, but it's that darn ScrubJay Syndrome in me. I just can't help myself. When my wife and I have visited the Canary Islands in winter to get away from the Swedish cold, I still collect and some things for which have no business outside in my garden in this Boreal Forested climate.

Photo - Tom Peck
I wrote Robyn back about something else I had collected up there another time and that was a Huachuca Agave. It's amazing to be up so high in a Sky Island forest as they are called in Southern Arizona and find Agaves inside the old growth Pine/Oak Forest understory. You just don't associate in your mind such things coming together. And yet there they are. This tiny agave I took was actually a pup I had separated from the mother plant was about the size of the palm of my hand. I planted it under the New Mexico Locusts I had collected years previous on a visit to Ruidoso, New Mexico. The Agave grew quite well, but when I sold the property, I just couldn't part with it. Hence I brought it down to my Mum's house in El Cajon CA, but I didn't have a place for it, so I took it to my place of work and replanted it on the hill.

Photo Mine
This is from our trip to the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson AZ & the Huachuca Agave display
Photo Mine
And there is it. Even has pups on the other side of it. I actually acquired it back in 1996. It's a long way away from it's form birth place high forested shady elevation in another state to a fun sun much hotter southern exposure in El Cajon California.
Another plant I had collected from up there in the Huachucas Mtns was a beautiful native Coral Bells variety with exceptional deep lipstick red colour. So many I had seen back over a decade ago were many with pale red or pink flowers in Nurseries, so a deep bright red was an eye catcher. Unfortunately it was along the side of a dangerous rock cliff face which also had slippery seep or cienega which hydrated the plants. I actually had to scale up this rock face a bit and reach over from the side and pluck out a tiny specimen. Coral Bells will often form several bunches which can be separated to form and grow newer plants. For people unfamiliar with Carr Canyon Falls and where I plucked this plant from, here is an illustrated example to the right and above. This is a dangerous area and it notoriously known for many deaths by people taking *cough-cough* chances like me. So please don't do this. I no longer take such stupid idiot chances, although it doesn't mean I don't think about doing such at times. Fortunately now I simply cop out.

Credit: Tom and Carol Sykes
I brought the plant back to my place in Anza and planted it under a fairly moist area some Redshanks of all plants. But as you can see from the photo by Tom Sykes, plants you do not normally associate together do quite often form strange bedfellows there in the Huachuca Mountains. The plant actually grew into several and once again, when I moved I took them with me to El Cajon CA. I placed them in my mum's newly created planter I built. They did wonderfully for a year until my Mum's stupid Wienerdog (Dachshund) which is a tweaked disturbed hound with an obsession for fetching and if you didn't continually throw her toy, she would go and destroy what plants she noticed you would so lovely attend to. My sister's dog (a Border Collie) was also another one of those insane fetch dogs. I spent over a month creating a kool native plant scene and installed a nice lawn at her brand purchased tract home in Lakeside CA in 2001. This dog was jealous if you refused to fetch and would deliberately tear out plants in retaliation. And that's exactly what happened, it totally trashed her yard. I literally found both of those dogs extremely irritating. What's even more frustrating than that is the inability to move the owner's of such dogs into action to put a stop to it. As a landscape supervisor in San Diego for that property management company, I had developed a reputation for hating the client's dogs. That was untrue, what I disliked was an owner's unwillingness to control and prevent their dog from crapping on our public lawns, especially since the Human owner or master is the main one who has power and authority to make the dog behave. That never happened. Needless to say, those original Huachuca Coral Bells no longer exist at Mum's place. *sigh*

Apache Pine
On another note, I also mentioned another tree for which I had taken back to California from Arizona. This was the Apache Pine I mentioned yesterday in the Alligator Juniper post. I did however, purchase it from James Koweek, who in turn actually did climb the Huachucas and collect the seedlings in the wild because he could never find viable seed or had trouble germinating them if he did acquire it, I forget exactly what he said. But I did have a Nursery receipt when I crossed that California/Arizona border at the Blythe Agricultural Station. But it didn't stop that officer from taking that plant out of the container and messing with the root ball which I thought would have done it in for sure, which was no doubt what he wanted as well. Fortunately the Apache Pine and me had other ideas. Apaches have always been hard to kill. *smile* Sadly, as I mentioned in that post yesterday, a tree trimmer who rented my old place cut it down for a place to park his equipment. Whatever. But just to let folks interested in landscaping in Southern California know, the Apache Pine does extremely well in landscape or garden situations in the interior valleys which are often very hot and dry. Take for an example, the Wild Animal Safari Park south of Escondido in the San Pasqual Valley. I took photos there back in 2007 when we last visited. My favourite place in all that Park hasn't always been around the African or Asian animals, though they are kool. It's the native plant garden and desert plant garden areas.

photo: Mine
In so many ways, this remarkable Pine is similar to Canary Island Pine and would make an excellent replacement. But unfortunately you just don't find them anywhere in any of the local So-Cal Nurseries. Most of the So-Cal Native Plant Nurseries won't touch anything out of state, well, unless of course it's Baja. But I have to admit that it's ability to survive and thrive down along the interior valleys of Southern California does impress me because even the native Jeffrey and Ponderosa Pines up in the local mountains will not do as well. They are both very smog sensitive and demand a cooler environment in which the local high elevations offer.

Photo Credit: Mine 2011
This is a closeup of one of the branches of an Apache Pine near the cage enclosure of the Thick Billed Parrot which is a native to southern Arizona. In some ways their cones are similar to Canary Island, but just a bit more round and wider.
Photo: Mine
This shot of the Apache Pines is taken next to the green & red Thick-Billed Parrot enclosure. It's appropriate since both the parrot and the pine share the same habitat in Arizona. Clearly though, anyone can see the tree does rather well at these hotter drier locations where Jeffrey, Ponderosa and other high elevation So-Cal natives would and do often fail. I really hope one day someone out there gets a clue and decides to collect enough seed to start promoting to the public the potential value of Apache Pine in California Urban Landscapes. If you don't believe it can be done, just visit the San Diego Safari Park and Native Plants collection display.
I don't know if my collecting days are finished or what. I don't have the resources for establishment anymore. Or even a favourable climate for that matter. But I still have this inner drive to collect seed and small plant specimens. So I guess I'll always have ScrubJay Syndrome, but I think I can live with it. As a result, I have learned so much over the years with this quirky handicap. 


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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana) @ Ramsey Canyon Arizona

Photo: Mine
On some previous trips to Arizona I always seemed to find something I wanted to take back as a specimen souvenir. Just to see  how it would fare in an Anza high Mountain ecosystem. Many similar climates around Arizona when comparing Anza Valley. This particular trip where the plant was collected was up above Ramsey Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains above Sierra Vista Arizona. The large tree specimens and signage above were down in the Canyon walk itself. The little tree I found was from driving up Carr Canyon Road just south of Ramsey Canyon Rd which takes you up to higher elevations. As I revisited Anza this year I could see that people are still making the same old blunders purchasing plants from conventional Retail Plant Nurseries only to see their landscape choices fail. But I brought back a tiny 5 or 6 inch high Alligator Juniper seedling from that trip. The time was summer in August. I know, odd time for taking a specimen where most would have collected it in winter or early Spring. But it is possible to collect and transplant if you know what to do and do it quickly. I've done Sycamores and Big Leaf Maples this time of year and with great success as well. 


Credit: Forestryimages.org

Thumb sized PT Mycorhizae Truffle associated with
young Slash Pines
Back in the 1990s, I was still using Plant Health Care Inc's (PHC) mycorrhizal inoculation mixes. This particular mix I used was called Tree Saver Injectable. I never used a high pressure injection system, I simply used to apply the powder which contained natural humic acids for triggering root growth and most importantly Pisolithus tinctorius spores. I also added some wild collected spores from truffles collected off the Dunn Ranch just north of Hamilton Creek Canyon in eastern Anza. The initial response after a month of transplanting the 6 inch high Alligator Juniper was that a thumb sized Truffle appeared at the base of the tree. Truffles will not appear unless they are able to draw off the carbons of their host. The picture above from Forestry Images for which I am a member, is almost as exact as what I have experienced with all pine and oak transplants or new tree inoculation. Only after the next rainy season and Spring growth will you ever notice any improved vigorous grow in both stems and foliage. The odd thing here with the Juniper however, PT Mycorrhizae is host specific and supposedly will NOT colonize with Junipers. Surprise surprise!

Photo Mine


This little tree was planted in 1996. It never struggled, but did get nibbled on by rabbits until I put the chicken wire around it. Babied it the first your with regular weekly water and tapered off with monthly. After that first year I did nothing. As you can see, it is now about one meter high as of June 2013. Also, notice I put it smack in the middle of old growth Redshank or Ribbonwood (Adenostoma sparsifolium) Chaparral High Desert Elfin Forest. I
never do give it another thought to remove what many people usually consider evil competition. I also contacted Dr Donald Marx (PHC Chief Scientist) in Frogmore South Carolina when I discovered that the colonization actually took. He was blown away too. So was I. So I sent him some pics. It's amazing how much there is yet to be discovered, especially in such an arrogant world where the leadership believes it knows it all. Eventually when the root system reaches a maximum point of establishment and the top of the Juniper pushes through the Chaparral tree canopy, it'll really take off. In the mean time, the environmental conditions will allow very few lower tree branches and being supported in early life by the chaparral will have a nice clean trunk for which that characteristic Alligator bark will manifest itself beautifully.




Photo: Mine
Photo: Mine
With Alligator Juniper, it's that characteristic reptilian bark pattern that catches and captures your attention while out on a hike. Some giant twisting individuals look like some prehistorical beast trying to free itself from the Earth's hold on it. Arizona Highways one year had a picture of a long dead Alligator Juniper, but which it's skeletal size still provided an illustrative vision of what it must have looked like when still alive.

Photo: Mine

Some interesting fire ecology facts about Alligator Juniper. While like most other living plants this tree will burn, but it also has the amazing ability to sprout back from it's root system. It's rugged reptilian looking bark is tough enough to withstand fire and has been noted that most canopies and crowns of Alligator Juniper are untouched, although lower limbs may be scorched. The foliage example as referenced in the picture above reveals just how beautiful this tree could be for the landscape and especially in areas where there are water issues.

There were other trees and plants worthy of note in the Huachucas. Apache Pine (Pinus engelmannii) is another one of those interesting pines that doesn't fit the profile of pines in So-Cal. It has a brighter green foliage which is itself much like those long subtropical needles pines. When it is a young sapling, it is often referred to as the "Hippie Pine". I acquired one years before my Alligator Juniper find, from a Native Plant Nursery in Elgin Arizona just south of Sonoita. The Nursery was owned by James (Jim) Koweek of Elgin and he later moved his Diamond JK Nursery to Sonoita Arizona just to the north at the Junctions of Hwy 82 & Hwy 83. He has since sold it and now has a Soil Preparation Services company and website here: http://www.azreveg.com/





Photo: Mine

This particular Apache Pine was up that same Carr Canyon Rd. I planted one of these Apache Pines on my Anza property in the early 1990s. After I sold that property in 2002, in 2003 it was rented out by the new owner to a guy who was a tree trimmer. He had lots of equipment and wanted a place for parking it. Understandable since Anza is known for having plenty of citizens with sticky finger tendencies. But he leveled half a dozen fairly large pines to do this along with Chaparral and the Apache and Arizona White Pines were among these. When I visited a few years later and discovered the loss, it was similar to my shock with the Rattlesnake Mountain Torrey Pine removal. Oh well, it was no longer my place anyway. But that Apache pine was almost 10 foot tall with good branch density when I left. The foliage of course stood out with it's bright green (almost Ponderosa looking) and did also prove that such pines would do well there. For all you off the hill plant shoppers, get a clue.



Photo: Mine

Just by way of location and height reference for the former Apache Pine on my property as of 2002. This photo above is a fortunate Coulter Pine that was not touched by the tree trimmers Ax or Chainsaw. You can see the height and branch circumference here are very very healthy. The Apache Pine was on the other side of this photo angle to the north and this tree was only one and a half foot tall compared to the 10 foot tall Apache when I left. So the Apache would have been more than doubled in it's size today if still alive. Also keep in mind as far as growth and health issues go, none of these trees on my former property are watered and have even endured the low rainfall years (eleven or twelve) since 2001 until this present day. So they still haven't done too bad. Shows what a healthy mycorrhizal grid network will do for a landscape system.
And Finally - 


Photo: Mine
Photo: Mine
Photo: Mine

These last three pictures are of the meadows of grasses and flowers leaving Ramsey Canyon back toward Hwy 91 South. Keep in mind the best time of year to visit is July/August when the summer Monsoons are in full force. Sad to say, from the climate shifting News Reports I am hearing, there may be an abnormal shift from July/August to September/October. This may well screw up many things with regards several ecosystems in the southwest.

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Good Reading References:

U.S. Forest Service & Alligator Jumiper Fire Ecology

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wildlife Habitat transformation in my Mum's front and backyards

At time of posting here back in Sweden, there is some ridiculously load music festival behind my country Gingerbread House. So I use something here called Spotify which is popular here for music listening. It's similar to Pandora and other sites. For the moment I have doors & windows closed and playing James Taylor to drowned out the insanity coming from the world outside. Okay, where do I start ?

In the words of Oliver Wendell Douglas of Hooterville

"What the  . . . ?"  

This is what I saw very early every Tuesday morning at Mum's place when taking the garbage out to the curb for Trash Pick up day. At first, I unconsciously assumed some bird/s were using it as a perched, until one day I decided to look up.
Credit Photo: Mine

This nest was a surprise to me as I have never really seen this before, although I have been familiar with the builder of it for years both in the wild and in the urban landscape business. This sort of hybrid looking mud & straw Swallow nest on steroids is the home for the Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans). 
Below is a nice 56 second video done by Las Pilitas Nursery owner and Nature educator Bert Wilson. It shows the common Black Phoebe which is a dapper flycatcher in the western U.S.A.  They reside near riparian water habitats in the wild, but also known around urban landscapes, especially in and around lawns. You will often see them on a fence post perch next to the lawn, a near by roof top gable or other lookout perch where they incredibly spy out some type of small winged insect in the grass for which you can't even see. They will then suddenly pounce upon the unsuspecting insect and if they at first miss the critter, they then do a number of acrobatics until the catch is made. Unfortunately I don't have all my photos with me back here, as they are on my mum's Picasa3 page. Again here is the video and very familiar sound made by this bird.





Photo Credit: Mine

Unfortunately I don't have a zoom lens on my camera and the fact that I even got this shot was a piece of luck. This is a Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus) which you can see at the center of the photo in the Coast Live Oak branch above the full bloom of the Bird of Paradise Bush (Caesalpinia gilliesii) which I previously wrote about a few weeks back Here. I often would sit in the afternoon sun enjoying the afternoon warmth, when I'd here this distinctive chirp sound, only to see this bright deeply yellow/orange coloured bird feeding off the nectar of the Bird of Paradise Bush flowers which are now in full bloom. 

Credit: (IBC) The Internet Bird Collection

These birds literally love nectar and you will often see them at Hummingbird feeders trying to find a way for a quick sip. There actually are Oriole bird feeders which have larger beak openings for the Orioles, but landscaping with the right plants will attract them also. They are so timid and shy, so photographing is more of a challenge without zoom lens.

Photo Credit: Mine

My Mum's Pozo Blue Sage which is in full bloom now and it's very aromatic fragrance permeates the entire front yard is also attracting numerous Bees like the Honeybee seen here. Although I don't have a picture of them, every so often 4 or 5 large black carpenter bees would show up all at once. I'd usually see them when I was leaving or on my way somewhere else in the Bronco I was driving while there on my visit. A cute little hummingbird was always present as well, but that was until my niece's little black cat caught it and brought it to the front door. The cat previously was bringing large grasshoppers to the front door. Over here in Sweden, many with outdoor cats have a bell attached to their collar to alert the birds. 

Photo Credit: Mine

This is my Mum's Island Manzanita I wrote about here "Canyon Sparkles" Island Manzanita when I first came to visit. It is beautiful, but I've been disappointed that it had not yet bloomed while on my visit. As you can see, there are unopened bloom clusters ready and willing, but perhaps the time is not right. Admittedly, it did have one bloom cluster with two petite looking Chinese Lantern flowers, but that was it. Should have stayed longer - *smile*
Finally there were the small grove of California Sycamore woodland setting I created back in 2005. The previous plant residents behind the house were Fruitless Mulberry and Texas Umbrella or China Berry tree. Both needed to come out. The China Berry was extremely messy and weal brittle branches began falling during strong windy storms. The Fruitless Mulberry was also messy, but also had trunk and branch rot from improper pruning by my father. Below is the photo from back then and the updated background photo as the back area appears today with the California Sycamores, Canary Island pines, Tecate Cypress and Torrey Pine. Most of Southern California on this last visit has been a huge disappointment for me as far as the public's lack of interest in landscaping and the horrible example of it's Municipal, County, State and Federal leadership. I have no faith that this will ever change anytime soon. Anyway, below is some of the transformation with regards creating a microclimate of sorts for plants that cannot take full sun. So-Cal is so lucky as to have a climate that can be used for any plant theme concept. Pity that most don't realize it.


Photo Credit: Mine

This was taken in January 2005 when my wife and kids came for a visit. Notice the Texas Umbrella tree on the left and the Fruitless Mulberry on the right just behind the roof line of view.
Photo Credit: Mine

This photo is actually taken in the backyard in August 2007 where you can see the progress of the California Sycamore woodland. This was taken also during the finishing up of the cobblestone pathway which was the final blow to my knees. Should have worn pads. I've done lots of stone steps and brick or cobblestone pathways in the Landscape business. The trees at this point are 2 1/2 years old, but the grass is no longer there and has been replaced by bark mulch layer with native under story plants like Snow Pea, Chaparral Currant, Fuchsia Flowering Gooseberry and California Coffeeberry. Tecate Cypress is to the left in this picture and the exact spot where I'm standing is over a small Torrey Pine which is so large now (20') that taking this same photo angle would be just about impossible. I have a strategy for establishing such a plant community rapidly in both the urban landscape and habitat restoration in the wild and then allowing Nature to run it's course and it has to do with observations I've made over the decades about Bajadas or Alluvial Fans in Southern California mountain foothill regions. I've revisited some of these places on my last trip and I'll share them with everyone next week. Trust me, it's worked for me every time.
Photo Credit: Mine

This was taken on our visit back in May 2011.  Notice the roof line and the California Sycamores woodland along with the Canary Island Pines. The Canary Island pines were never planned, but volunteered from the mulch I had brought over from work just a year before I left for Sweden. Below, this is how things appear as of a couple weeks back at the time of this writing April 2013. I'll later post some pics I have of the California Sycamore plants under story which in itself replicates unique plant communities which exist under many Oak woodlands in California. The exciting thing is that such plant community establishments under Sycamores or Oaks are actually wildlife magnets which makes the whole gardening/landscaping game worth it if done properly.
Photo Credit: Mine