August 9, 2010

Osprey in New York’s St. Lawrence Valley



 …Atlantic salmon are the glamorous aristocrats (of the sea, as viewed by human eyes)…From 1865 to 1910, an habitant by the name of Napoleon Comeau was employed to guard the salmon in the rather inconsequential Godbout River on the north shore of the St. Lawrence estuary…Napoleon’s task was to make sure that nobody and nothing took so much as a smolt from the waters that belonged to (his employers, a handful of Montreal businessmen and politicos who had leased exclusive salmon fishing rights on the Godbout River)…For forty-three years, he and his assistants waged war up and down the river and in the adjacent waters of the estuary against “Those base enemies of the regal salmon: white whales, porpoises, seals, bears, minks, otters, mergansers, kingfishers, ospreys, and loons.”***(bold inserted).***


Osprey Nest     “What’s that?” my husband Monte and I wondered as we saw what looked like a bird nest on top of an electric pole on our route between Black Lake in Edwardsville, New York, and Edwards, New York.

     When Monte spotted a second nest, I proclaimed “STOP!” I put my camera strap around my neck as he compliantly pulled over. Pointing my camera, I put my trigger finger to work, and capturing a large bird flying from its nest. Then I moved in to record the nest itself, also dangerously constructed atop an electric pole.

     We arrived at Sunnyside of Black Lake, a nine-room series rooms, attached behind a house, nicely located on the lake. We mentioned the nests to the business owners, Karl and Carolyn Geiger. He explained that what we saw were osprey nests.  

     My interest in ospreys began with a visit to Googins Island, Maine, an osprey refuge. I’d researched them on the Internet, and was preparing a post on them (to read, click on: Googins Island, Maine: An Osprey Sanctuary).


Photo by Karl Geiger

     Ospreys can be considered Eagles based on their size, and certainly have overlapping behavior and habitats with eagles, such as the Bald Eagle. Ospreys, specifically, are very well adapted for living near shore, and feeding on shallow-water fish…

eagles, hawks and falcons differentiate based on size, shape, color, and method of flight, but there are many minor differences in behavior, habitat and feeding that can help with the differentiation.*

     Ospreys are typically found in New York’s St. Lawrence Valley between April and September—they migrate to South America for the winter. They catch their primary food, fish, by plunging into the water feet first. With needle-sharp hooked (more…)

August 7, 2010

Googins Island, Maine: An Osprey Sanctuary





Sign on Googins Island, Maine

     The sign was on tiny Googins Island just fifty feet offshore in Wolfe Neck Park, Freeport, Maine. My husband Monte and I were there for two reasons. First, I was walking all the mainland beaches between Lamoine Beach, Maine and Wallis Sands Beach, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. And second, this island was named after the Googins family, one of my ancestral branches (see THE GOOGINS GENEALOGICAL LINE section at the end of this post).

I could walk on the sand, but not on Googins Island

     At low tide, the area separating Googins Island from the mainland was almost like quicksand. Perhaps we would sink if we stepped onto it, I thought, as I stepped gingerly on rocks, avoiding the wet sand.

     I was disappointed that we couldn’t walk around this tiny island. I also wondered: What is an osprey? Why does it need “sanctuary?”

     As usual, I surfed the Internet. I discovered that one of the biggest natural attractions at Wolf Neck State Park is the osprey nest on adjacent Googin’s Island, viewable from the mainland.** Not knowing what to look for, I didn’t spot the nest.

     The osprey became rare as nesting bird, especially in the northern and eastern parts of United States where unsuccessful reproduction believed result of chemical pollution of waters and fishes on which Osprey preys.*

     It is considered a raptor—a bird of prey—and is listed in the biological order Falconiformes. It hunts for its food with its extremely sharp claws, excellent eyes, and powerful wings.

     The osprey, almost eagle size, measures (more…)

July 29, 2010

The Regal Fritillary Butterfly on Bergamot


Or is it a REGAL Fritillary?

      This year, my yard has a spectacular, albeit it small, display of bee balm, a.k.a. bergamot. The blooms are light purple, with a smattering of red blossoms mixed in.

     Flittering about this bee balm are numerous brightly colored orange-with-black-and-silver Regal fritillary butterflies.

      On February 28, 1996, this species was moved from the endangered species list to the federal species of concern list.


     The original range of the Regal fritillary butterfly extended north from Oklahoma, then east from Montana and Colorado to the central east coast. Once, it was common in the natural grasslands, pastures, and wet meadows of the northeastern United States. However, in 2010, it can no longer be found in most of New England or the Ohio Valley. There are only scattered populations in the southeastern and south-central counties of North Dakota, and in the Sheyenne National Grasslands in southeastern North Dakota.

     Today, the only northeastern place where its exuberant flight can be observed is located on two hundred and nineteen acres at Fort Indiantown Gap, a National Guard Training Site in Pennsylvania. Another seventy-five acres forms a dispersal corridor.


     The Fort contracted with the Pennsylvania Chapter of The Nature Conservancy to assist in caring for this last Regal fritillary habitat. In January 1998 the Conservancy placed a project manager on the base to assist the National Guard’s efforts to protect this butterfly. In 2006, the Conservancy transferred its research and monitoring efforts to (more…)

May 29, 2010

Save Those Hair Clippings!



Calling all salons, groomers, wool & alpaca fleece farmers, hairy individuals, & pet owners to sign up to donate hair, fur, fleece, feathers… A huge International Natural Fiber Recycling mobilization is currently taking place…**

     I read a blurb in a local paper that reported hair was being collected to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.*It led me to the Matter of Trust website, ** where, sure enough, hair, human and animal, is being used to make (more…)

January 31, 2010

Nauru: Wealth from Bird Guano (Poop)



     It’s a joke.

     That’s what I thought when I read Joel Brinkley’s column on January 3, 2010. I thought he was writing satire about an imaginary country, Nauru, that became wealthy from bird poop.

     According to Brinkley, Nauru has known the best known the best of life, and the worst of life. Once it was once the second wealthiest nation on Earth, per capita. Today it’s among the poorest.

     Even though I thought he was joking, I went to the Internet to find out if a country named Nauru really existed.

     And I learned that Brinkley was not writing satire. There actually is a country named the Republic of Nauru. And it actually did make a fortune on bird poop. My research affirmed the statements in Brinkley’s column.

     Nauru is the smallest republic in the world, just eight square miles, and 80 percent of the territory is a forbidding, barren wasteland. Alone in the Pacific Ocean, on the equator northeast of Australia…*Brinkley wrote.

     The small, oval-shaped, western Pacific island is just 42 kilometers (26 mi.) south of the Equator. It is one of three great phosphate rock islands in the Pacific Ocean–the others are Banaba (Ocean Island) in Kiribati and Makatea in French Polynesia.**

     And this tiny island nation did once boast the second-highest per capita GDP in the world, following Saudi Arabia. Its nominal per capita GDP exceeded (more…)

January 29, 2010

Groundhogs and Punxsutawney Phil



     Don’t be surprised when the neighborhood groundhogs (doesn’t every neighborhood have one, two, three or four?)—thought long gone in the late fall, their burrows far too close to the house, backfilled—suddenly awake, emerge and begin foraging for fuel.

     Yes, all the signs are here—it will be an early spring.#

     However, the official word on whether it will be an early spring will not be made by the observations of Colin McNickle, journalist, but by Punxsutawney Phil. On Groundhog Day.

(To view illustration click on: )


Read the 2015 article: Groundhog Day Recipes & Pictures

NOTICE: As of January 15, 2015, CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS has moved to Carolyn’s Online Magazine. I invite you to visit the new site and to subscribe in the FOLLOW box in the upper right hand corner.

Additional reading: 11 Facts About Groundhog’s Day (Feb. 2)


     The sixth century. That’s how far back the roots of the Groundhog Day celebration extend.

     Groundhog Day is associated with Christianity’s Candlemas Day, the day that candles used throughout the year are blessed. It is the mid-point of winter, the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

     Groundhog Day as a modern event was inspired by an old Scottish couplet:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear

There’ll be two winters in the year.**

      Later, the Germans started trying to predict how much more winter they could expect based on the hibernation patterns of bears in February. In the 1700s, when the Germans settled in the United States, they switched from bears to groundhogs, for some unknown reason* After all, groundhogs have no interest in how long winter lasts, nor are they any interest in their shadows. Basically, they come out of hibernation for food (by February, hibernating groundhogs have lost up to half their body weight) and sex.  **

A clue might be found in the (more…)

December 31, 2009

A Blue Moon On New Year’s Eve 2009





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    On New Year’s Eve, 2009, an infrequent yet common occurrence is happening—a “blue moon.” Persons living in areas with clear skies can observe the moon’s brilliance. In area like ours, where cloudy skies will probably hide the moon’s brilliance, this brilliance will be obscured.

     Myths surround the blue moon, which isn’t truly “blue.” The term, derived from the middle English word “belew,” meaning “false,” refers the full moon that occurs a second time in a particular month.

     Although each month is supposed to have only one full moon, a second moon in a particular month occurs on average thirty-seven times in a century, or once every 2.7 years—every thirty-three months.  It occurred on New Year’s Eve in 1990.

     And at 12:13 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 2009, the last purported year of the first decade of the 21st century, there will be a blue moon.

     One interpretation of the appearance of a second full moon comes from Medieval Christianity, whose members considered its  appearance as the devil taunting humanity. Since these religious folks used the moon to identify the correct date for Easter, the appearance of a second moon in Easter’s month was seen as the devil’s doing: Satan was sending the false moon to confuse them, tricking them in their determination of the real date of Christ’s Resurrection.

     Since the term “blue” can also mean sad, songs such as “Blue Moon of Kentucky” (written and sung by Bill Monroe in 1946) and “Blue Moon” (recorded by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers in 1933), are melancholy. According to Gregory McNamee, an Encyclopedia Britannica writer, “it is interesting that no positive songs to my knowledge exist about blue moons…”

To continue reading about the blue moon and nature’s other blues, click on BLUE MOONS AND NATURE’S OTHER BLUES

SOURCE of some of the above information: Blue moon’s link to rare events, Satan or finding a great love dispelled, written by Mike Cronin and published in the December 31, 2009 in the Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA).






November 12, 2009

There’s a Bug (Moth) In Carolyn’s Ear




     CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS is awarding a monthly prize to the reader making the most comments at To be eligible for the prize, comment on any post. The more comments you post, the greater chance you have of being the winner.

     The first prize, to be announced on December 3, 2009, will be awarded to the reader who made the most comments on during November. The winner will be notified by E-mail. In the event of a tie, a name will be drawn. Winners will be listed on this page. 

     Thank you for your loyalty to my writing site.      Carolyn C. Holland


Check out the INDEX PAGES on the left hand side of this blogsite to easily locate posts on your favorite subjects! Keep in mind—they are still “under construction.”


By Cochran Cornell, the Cantankerous Cockroach 

After my very early morning experience when a moth flew in my ear, I invited my cartoon character Cochran Cornell the Cantankerous Cockroach to tell all you good folks the story from his point of view.  

     Last night, my creator, Carolyn, came up with a new definition for the phrase “You have a bug in your ear!”

     It happened at 3:15 a.m. She was trying to sleep, lying on her side, with her cat Honey resting on her shoulder and purring loudly in her ear. Suddenly, she jumped up, startling Honey and dumping her off the bed. Something was in (more…)

October 27, 2009

Ghostly white pumpkins of the Lunar variety



Pumpkins have become the Christmas trees of fall festivals, the Easter bunnies of Halloween. From jack-o’-lanterns to the formal centerpiece, pumpkins are a focal point of autumn.*

     The discerning autumn bride doesn’t decorate her reception table with just any pumpkin. She places intermixes floral arrangements with traditional orange pumpkins and the Lunar pumpkin, which delight and intrigue her wedding guests.

     If you’ve never seen the Lunar pumpkin you will probably (more…)

June 2, 2009

Violet infestation? Why complain?



      As I sat on my comfortable couch this winter, watching the snow drift with the winds and the birds fly to and from the window bird feeder, I was invited to contemplate on the number of blades of grass that would be on my lawn come summer. This invitation, in a Vital Stats column, Growth Industry, (the May 2003 Pittsburgh Magazine), states that the “Number of blades of grass on the Cathedral of Learning lawn” is 278,784,000.

     Naturally, my mind wonders about my lawn—and I wonder how I could ever count the blades of grass on it. I recollect how I once did red blood cell counts (I once worked as a hematology technician doing differential counts under a microscope). A section of blood, smeared on a slide and stained, is counted, and the total is projected from that count. Ah, so I could take a patch of lawn, say three inches square, and count the blades of grass in it. There are sixteen of these squares in (more…)

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