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RaifBadawi
If you haven't followed the story of Raif Badawi he's a Saudi blogger convicted of crimes against Islam and the Saudi regime.  Badawi's sentence of 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison drew international condemnation.  After Badawi's first round of 50 lashes, further rounds were postponed, at first for medical reasons, then for unknown reasons.  This postponement gave Badawi's supporters hope that international pressure was softening the Saudi government's position, and clemency might be granted.  Now, The Independent is reporting that Saudi judges are considering reopening apostasy charges against Badawi.  If convicted on those charges he would face the death penalty.

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That he can say such vile things with a smile on his face speaks volumes of his character. (Warning:NSFW or around children, or decent folk)

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Muslim blogger and lawyer Mussafil Islam delivers a fantastic message to those extremists who share the violent ideology of the  Charlie Hebdo terrorists.

Warning: This video may contain language offensive to many Kossacks.  
Also, it has a lot of F-words.

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Bill Donohue says a lot of stupid things.  This has to be a new low.  A mere hours after the murder of 12 employees of a satirical French magazine, Donohue lays the blame squarely where it doesn't belong, a now dead newspaper publisher.

Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s publisher, was killed today in the slaughter. It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.” Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive. Muhammad isn’t sacred to me, either, but it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing him.
As long as Donohue remains the President of the Catholic League, I can consider the organization nothing more than a hate group.
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RaifBadawi

Earlier this week a Saudi appeals court confirmed the decision sentencing Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes.  Badawi's crime, creating a blog that "violates Islamic values and propagates liberal thought".  The website advocated for social reform including freedom of expression and women's rights.

Lashings are a common punishment in Saudi Arabia.  They rarely lead to death.  Badawi is to be delivered 50 lashes at a time, with no less than a week between lashings.  At the very least, he will be subjected to months of torture, followed by years of prison.

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It was a terrible year for butterflies, at least in my backyard.  Last year the earliest sighting was in mid-March, and regular sightings began in early May.  This year, due to late April freezes and an early May snowfall, the first butterfly was not seen until May 25 and regular sightings did not occur until July.  Only extending the season past September kept this year's numbers from being completely dismal.

I recorded just fifteen species of butterfly this year, five fewer than last year and three fewer than 2011.  Between May 25th and November 2nd this year I recorded 163 butterflies on 67 days.  Last year I recorded 218 butterflies on 85 days.  While the late frost led to a terrible Spring, Summer and early Fall were still a bit lower than last year's drought-stricken summer, which was markedly lower than the Summer of 2011.  In short, this was the worst butterfly season I can remember.  I can only hope things turn around soon.

Summer Azure
Summer Azure(Celestrina neglecta)
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Sun Aug 11, 2013 at 07:03 PM PDT

Butterflies of the Gunnison

by billybush

The Gunnison National Forest covers over 2000  square miles of Colorado's Western Slope.  It consists of montane forest, scrubland and several rivers and their reservoirs.  I recently traveled there and, despite frequent rains, managed to photograph a number of butterflies.  I am a fish out of water when it comes to ID'ing butterflies on the western side of the Continental Divide.  All of my field guides and prior experience are with eastern species.  I've done the best I can with my ID's but it is possible I've missed one or two.

The first stop was Monarch Pass.  Monarch Pass takes travelers across the Continental Divide.  At its highest point the elevation is about 11,300 feet, but a tram ride will take you to the top of an adjacent peak to an elevation of about 12,000 feet.  While riding the tram, I could see yellow and white butterflies which I presumed were probably Orange Sulphurs.  When I got to the top, I walked the ridgeline a bit and found one of the white butterflies was actually a Rocky Mountain Parnassian (Parnassius smintheus).  While Parnassians may look like Whites they are actually in the Swallowtail family.

DSCN3443 (800x726)

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The Daily Bucket is a place to catch your casual observations of the natural world and turn them into a valuable resource. Whether it's the first flowers of spring or that odd bug in your basement, don't be afraid to toss your thoughts into the bucket. Check here for a more complete description.
July 21-27, 2013
Omaha, Nebraska
DSCN3278
Hummingbird Clearwing(Papilio polyxenes)
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The Daily Bucket is a place to catch your casual observations of the natural world and turn them into a valuable resource. Whether it's the first flowers of spring or that odd bug in your basement, don't be afraid to toss your thoughts into the bucket. Check here for a more complete description.
July 14-20, 2013
Omaha, Nebraska
DSCN3219
Black Swallowtail(Papilio polyxenes)
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The Daily Bucket is a place to catch your casual observations of the natural world and turn them into a valuable resource. Whether it's the first flowers of spring or that odd bug in your basement, don't be afraid to toss your thoughts into the bucket. Check here for a more complete description.
May 21-July 13, 2013
Omaha, Nebraska

DSCN3112

Sachem(Atalopedes campestris)
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The Daily Bucket is a place to catch your casual observations of the natural world and turn them into a valuable resource. Whether it's the first flowers of spring or that odd bug in your basement, don't be afraid to toss your thoughts into the bucket. Check here for a more complete description.
Omaha, Nebraska

It's been a dreary couple of days with rain and fog and temperatures hovering in the low 40s.  This morning, as I peered out through the fog, I noticed a small hawk perched on a fence in my backyard.  Hawks are not uncommon in the area.  There is a large open area just a few blocks to the north, between the interstate and some railroad tracks, where hawks can often be seen soaring over the area or perched on a sign post.  But as far as I can recall, this is the first time I have seen a hawk actually in my yard.

Of course, the first thing I did upon seeing the hawk was run and get my camera.  I managed to get one picture before it flew a way.  Sadly, a picture taken through a dirty window and about 30 feet of fog doesn't really make for a stellar photograph.

Hawk

I imagine the hawk was drawn by the many birds around my feeder.  After it flew off I went out to see if i could find any evidence it had taken a bird, but I couldn't find any.

What are you seeing in your area?

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The Daily Bucket is a place to catch your casual observations of the natural world and turn them into a valuable resource. Whether it's the first flowers of spring or that odd bug in your basement, don't be afraid to toss your thoughts into the bucket. Check here for a more complete description.
March 12-September 20, 2012
Omaha, Nebraska

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the spring of hope, it was the summer of despair, it was a season of new butterfly sightings, it was a season of marked butterfly decline.  So goes another butterfly season.  On the positive side, I saw several new species I had not seen before.  On the negative side, overall numbers were down, way down. This year, my records went from March 12th to September 30th.  Last year, I didn't start keeping records until July 18th, but continued to the end of October.  I take responsibility for this year's shortened year as we had an early October frost and I neglected to protect my zinnias and marigolds.  With nothing left to feed on, there was nothing to bring the few remaining butterflies into the yard.

I recorded twenty butterfly species this year, two more than last year.  Only thirteen of this years species, however, were recorded after July 18th, when I started keeping records last year. This year, I saw 218 butterflies on 87 days, but only 100 butterflies on 44 days after mid July.  Last year, I saw a whopping 222 butterflies on 75 days.  It is difficult to say why numbers were down so much.  I know I was busier this year, with less time for observation.  I'm sure that was a significant factor, but my impression is that there were just fewer butterflies this year.  I'd imagine our drought played a large part.  Also, we had a warm winter and an early spring, followed by a late frost.  That could have been a factor as well.  Whatever the case, it will be interesting to see what happens next year.

Individual species profiles below the fold.

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