Monthly Archives: May 2009

Kea Parrot Steals Passport

Two Keas parrots conspire on the rooftop of The Hermitage Hotel at Mt. Cook in New Zealand.

Two Keas parrots conspire on the rooftop of The Hermitage Hotel at Mt. Cook in New Zealand.

My favorite parrots are in the news again!  A Kea parrot has stolen a passport from a tourist visiting New Zealand. ( See the story below.)  The Keas hang out at a tunnel that everyone must pass through to get to Milford Sound.  Everyone stops there, because it’s a one-lane tunnel.  The keas are probably part of an international passport theft ring.  At the bottom is a link to a post I wrote about keas, which includes some great videos (which I didn’t take).    

 An Associated Press story, May 28, 2009.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Polly wants a passport — and isn’t above stealing one.

A brazen parrot, which spotted a Scottish man’s passport in a colored bag in the luggage compartment under a tour bus, nabbed the document and made off into dense bush with it, the Southland Times newspaper reported Friday.

The bird — a parrot of the Kea variety — made its move while the bus was stopped along the highway to Milford Sound on South Island, and the driver was looking through the compartment. Milford Sound, which runs inland from the Tasman Sea and is surrounded by sheer rock face, is part of Fiordland National Park, a world heritage site and major travel destination.

Police told the newspaper the passport has not been recovered and is unlikely to be located in the vast Fiordland rain forest.

“My passport is somewhere out there in Fiordland. The Kea’s probably using it for fraudulent claims or something,” the passport owner, who did not want to be named, told the newspaper.

A replacement passport from the British High Commission  in Wellington could take six weeks and cost up to $250.

“I’ll never look at a Kea in the same way,” the man was quoted saying.

Kea, the world’s only snow line-dwelling parrot, are widely known as inquisitive birds who appear to take delight in attacking rubber items like windshield wiper blades.

Native to New Zealand, the birds are found only in or near South Island mountains, where they live in high-altitude beech forest and open sub-alpine herb fields that stretch up into the snow line.

Covered mainly in brown and green feathers, they have large flashes of bright orange feathers under their wings.

My post about Kea Parrots.

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Filed under Animals, Bird-watching, Birds, Humor, Life, Nature, New Zealand, Personal, Random, Travel

Second Annual Strawberry Photograph

This is one of my favorite times of year.  Every day I find these jewels in my garden.  These were so fresh that they steamed up the glass.  The fragrance was so better than any perfume. Best of all, I got to eat them!

This is one of my favorite times of year. Every day I find these jewels in my garden. These were so fresh that they steamed up the glass. The fragrance was so much better than any perfume. Best of all, I got to eat them!

 

My strawberry patch has grown even larger this year.  Hurrah!  Here’s my post with photographs from last year, in case you missed it.   Strawberry Fields.

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Filed under Gardening, Humor, Kansas, Kansas City, Life, Nature, Photography

Kiwi Bloke

Kiwi Bloke’s father, Turoa Kiniwe Royal, received a doctorate in literature recently at Massey University in New Zealand.  The YouTube video showing the ceremony is in Maori, which is beautiful even if I don’t understand it. (The video might be slow to load.)  The five men performing the haka in the audience at the ceremony are Kiwi Bloke’s brothers.   I watched the Maori language channel a little every day while we were in New Zealand, so it was fun to see it again.  Dr. Royal is a pioneer in advancing Maori language and education.

I met Kiwi Bloke online through my post about the hilarious musical duo “Flight of the Conchords”.  Kiwi Bloke is an expert on all things Kiwi, and I’ve learned a lot about beautiful New Zealand from reading his blog.  I fell in love with the country after my all-too-brief visit there in February.

Here are Kiwi Bloke’s posts about his father’s doctorate, beginning with the post announcing the honor. (We’re switching between spelling “honor” the Kiwi way and the North American way.)  The last two links are articles about the award.

Well Deserved Honor, I Might Say.

Pioneer Receives Highest Honour. 

 Maori Educationalist to Receive Doctorate.

Pioneer to Receive Highest Honour.

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Filed under Education, Internet, Language, Life, Literature, New Zealand, Personal, Travel

Congratulations!

Congratulations, Matt and Bethany!  College Graduates!

Congratulations, Matt and Bethany! College Graduates!

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Filed under Kansas, Life, Personal

Monarch Watch Spring 2009 Open House

My friend Deb buys some tropical milkweed at the Monarch Watch Spring Open House.  Monarch Watch Director Chip Taylor, at left in the yellow hat, and many volunteers were busy as the crowds snapped up the annuals and perennials.   The sale is a fund-raiser for Monarch Watch and also ios a good way for people to introduce plants for pollinators in their gardens.
My friend Deb buys some tropical milkweed at the Monarch Watch Spring Open House at the University of Kansas on May 9. Monarch Watch Director Chip Taylor, at left in the yellow hat, and many volunteers were busy as the crowd snapped up the pollinator-pleasing annuals and perennials. The sale is a fund-raiser for Monarch Watch and also is a great way for people to introduce plants for pollinators in their gardens.

 It’s estimated that 80 percent of the world’s food crops needs to be pollinated.  Habitat for pollinators is shrinking every year, while the demand for food increases.   Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas in Lawrence is dedicated to promoting education about the biology and conservation of the Monarch butterfly and other pollinators.  It works with children of all ages, involving schools, nature centers and other ogranizations.  For more information, click on Monarch Watch and Pollinator Partnership on my blogroll.  If you buy products from Amazon.com, you can also benefit Monarch Watch by clicking on the amazon portal on the Monarch Watch website to buy.  There won’t be an additional cost to you.

 The following are photographs from the open house on May 9, except the last one which was taken in my backyard.

These Monarch Butterfly Chrysalides look like jade beans, trimmed with a thin stripe of gold leaf.  They'll be placed in containers when it's time for the butterflies to emerge.

These Monarch Butterfly chrysalides look like jade beads, trimmed with a thin stripe of gold leaf. They'll be placed in containers when it's time for the butterflies to emerge. The butterflies are then released, where hopefully they'll find food and habitat. Because of increasing development and changing farming practices, habitat and food sources for Monarchs are rapidly decreasing.

Children have a good time at the open house, where there are plenty of fun science-related activities....and cookies, too!

Children have a good time at the open house, where there are plenty of fun science-related activities....and cookies, too! Monarch Watch promotes education about and conservation of pollinating insects and other pollinating animals.

Visitors choose their Monarch Butterfly caterpillars, which you could buy when you bought a milkweed plant.  There were dozens of caterpillars munching away on milkweed in the white tub.

Visitors choose their Monarch Butterfly caterpillars, available for sale when you bought a milkweed plant. There were dozens of caterpillars munching away on milkweed in the white tub.

 

These Monarch caterpillars await adoption.  People who bought milkweed plants could also buy caterpillars to take home to live in on the newly purchased milkweed plants in their gardens.

These Monarch caterpillars await adoption. People who bought milkweed plants could also buy caterpillars to take home to live on the newly purchased milkweed plants in their gardens.

Monarch Butterflies are busy in the mating enclosure.

Monarch Butterflies are busy in the mating enclosure.

 Monarch Butterfly drops by to say hello to a young visitor.

A Monarch Butterfly says hello to a young visitor.

 

Thie honey bee dropped by the open house to visit some chive blossoms in the pollination garden.

This honey bee dropped by the open house to visit some chive blossoms in the pollination garden.

MonarchButterflies weren't the only stars of the open house.  Here are some silkworms.

Monarch Butterflies weren't the only stars of the open house. Here are some silkworms.

 

Honey Bees thrive in a hive at Monarch Watch headquarters, which promotes education adn conservation of all pollinating insects and other animals.

Honey bees thrive in a hive at Monarch Watch headquarters, which is on the west campus of the University of Kansas.

 

The Monarch Watch open house offered a wide range of annual and perennial nectar and food plants for butterflies and caterpillars.

The Monarch Watch open house offered a wide range of annual and perennial nectar and food plants for butterflies and caterpillars.

 

Not just caterpillars turn into butterflies.

Not just caterpillars turn into butterflies.

 

The Monarch Watch pollination garden is planted to attract and feed butterflies, bees and other pollinators, but it attracted me, too.  Isn't it lucky that plants for pollinators are also beautiful!

The Monarch Watch pollination garden is planted to attract and feed butterflies, bees and other pollinators, but it attracted me, too. Isn't it lucky that plants for pollinators are also beautiful!

 

Here's "Reggie," the Monarch caterpillar I bought, at home on a milkweed in my garden.

Here's "Reggie," the Monarch caterpillar I bought, at home on a milkweed in my garden.

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Filed under Animals, Butterflies, Conservation, Education, Environment, Food, Gardening, Insects, Kansas, Life, Natural History, Nature, Personal, Photography, Science, University of Kansas

My Horse Won!

My best was on "Mine That Bird," winner of the 135th Kenturcky Derby on May 2.

My bet was on "Mine That Bird," winner of the 135th Kentucky Derby on May 2. It was the second biggest upset in Derby history.

I’d never heard of “Mine That Bird” until my husband pulled his name out of a hat at a Kentucky Derby party today.   “Mine That Bird” was a 50-1 shot.   (I’d never heard of any of the other horses, either…)

“There goes the ten dollars we threw in the pot” was my thought when I looked at the odds.  It was fun, though, to watch all of the hoopla, the big hats, the race horses being led, the jockey parade, then one by one the jockeys popping onto the horses and then sauntering to the gates. The mint juleps we were drinking added to the glow.

imageSuddenly, the horses burst out of the gate.    My horse wasn’t a front runner,  I couldn’t pick him out of the pack (herd?) on the track, I assumed he was the last one, and I had no idea Number Eight was the horse that was racing ahead until he crossed the finish line. 

“That’s my horse, that’s my horse,” I yelled.  No one else was all that excited, because they all had losing horses. (Losers!)  They did agree it was certainly one of the most interesting Derbys they’d ever watched, and they watch the Derby every year. (I confess that I usually miss it, but I might be hooked now!)  It was fascinating to watch the race from a shot overhead afterward.  It showed “Mine That Bird” moving steadily and rapidly through the horse crowd along the rail until it broke through and took off.  (See video below.)Derby bet

According to the Associated Press story by Beth Harris, “Sent off at 50-1 odds, Mine That Bird pulled away in the stretch to score a 6 3/4 -length victory at Churchill Downs, the second-biggest upset in Derby history.  His margin was the largest since Assault won by eight lengths in 1946.

The gelding ran 1 miles on a sloppy dirt track in 2:02.66 and paid $103.20 to win—second-largest payout in Derby history behind Donerail ($184.90) in 1913.”

Calvin Borel, the Louisiana jockey who rode Mine That Bird to victory, won the Derby in 2007, using the same strategyof racing his mount along the rail, which is why he’s called Calvin Bo-rail.

 The last bet I made was on “Sunny’s Halo,” who won the Kentucky Derby in 1983, so I’ve been a lucky but very sporadic horse racing gambler.  Both Derby wins had nothing to do with skill, but were totally luck.  Now, let me check my Powerball ticket!

 derby-day

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Filed under Animals, Entertainment, Friendship, Life, Personal, Random, Sports