Chitwan National Park, at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal, is one of the last refuges for the Bengal tiger as well as home to the largest population of one horned rhinoceros in the world. Visitors to the park are encouraged to explore the area by boat, by foot, or by elephant. There are also several breeding areas such as for vultures, elephants, and crocodiles.

chitwan national park nepal himalyas one horned rhinoceros calf mother baby

Wikipedia   |   WikiVoyage
UNESCO   |   Official Park Site
Lonely Planet   |   YouTube Video

As with many species of fungi, this one has no official common name. It is Lactarius uvidus, what I am calling the Purple-Staining Milkcap. This species thrives in North American and European forests around birch, aspen, spruce, and willow trees. The cap is either flat or indented, and it gives off a milky secretion that turns purple or lilac wherever it sticks on the fruiting body. Click the links below to find out more about this interesting fungus.

Lactarius uvidus lilac staining milkcap milky mushroom north america europe aspens birch willow forest fungi

Wikipedia   |   EOL
Mushroom Expert
First Nature
Rogers Mushrooms
Mushroom Observer

A short video featuring the beautiful Pine Grosbeak and its call:

More on the Pine Grosbeak

Pine Grosbeak’s Call

The Pine Grosbeak, Pinicola enucleator, is one of the largest of the true finches, Fringillidae. This fruit eating bird lives at the top of the world, in the subarctic reagions of Asia, Europe, and North America. In years where the fruit harvest is low, this species will adapt by extending its range further south to wherever enough fruit can be found, even as far south as the midwest and prairie states.

Pinicola enucleator pine grosbeak finch subarctic asia europe north america canada birds red

ARKive   |   Wikipedia
BirdWeb   |   All About Birds

Virunga National Park lies on DR Congo’s eastern border with Uganda, in eastern Africa. This is home to the famed Mountain Gorillas but also features hippos, lions, forest elephants, the golden cat, and the okapi. This was Africa’s first national park, originally named Albert NP after King Albert I of Belgium in 1925 before the time of independence. Since then, the park has suffered greatly from unstable politics and threats of oil exploitation. However, dedicated naturalists and park rangers have brought the park back from the edge of destruction and made it a thriving tourist attraction and safe home for wildlife.

virunga national park mountain gorillas congo africa

Wikipedia   |   Wikitravel
Official Website of the Park
Virunga News on WWF
UNESCO page for the park
Virunga NP YouTube channel

The Salar de Uyuni in southern Bolivia is the world’s largest salt flat at almost 5000 square miles. In all that area, its height above sea level only varies by three feet — so nearly perfectly level that NASA uses it as a benchmark to align some of their equipment in space! This whole area is unique with many geologic features — check out the links below to find out more and see awesome pics!

salar de uyuni salt flat largest world bolivia south america desert altiplano unusual places

Wikipedia   |   WikiTravel   |   Lonely Planet
YouTube video   |   Epic Pics!

The Kellet’s Whelk, Kelletia kelletii, is a type of sea snail that is common to the middle and southern coast of California, on down to Baja California. This seemingly harmless shelled creature is both a predator and a scavenger, and it has quite a strange feeding apparatus: a long proboscis twice the length of its shell can dangle down to reach its prey that may be hiding in a rock crevice or on the sea floor. It uses a handy rasp to scrape off tissue, and sucks it up into its shell for digestion. Each whelk has only one of these feeding tubes, and you’d be amazed how many creatures have some type of proboscis!

Kelletia kelletii kellets whelk proboscis feeding rasping sucking shells california

iNaturalist
Encyclopedia of Life
SiMoN

Hornbill Nest Video

Like other deciduous larches, the subalpine larch, Larix lyallii, sheds its needles each year. The trees make a grand show up there near the treeline, with their yellow needles and often twisted form. Further down the mountains, they tend to be taller and grow straighter. Fresh new twigs have single needles, whereas older twigs have clusters of needles growing from a little raised knot along the twig. Cones are spherical with long bracts extending out past each scale, giving the cones a shaggy appearance. These trees grow along with their very close and very similar relative, Larix occidentalis, in the upper Rocky Mountains and Cascade range in the northwestern United States and nearby regions of Canada.

Larix lyallii subalpine alpine larch northwest canada united states trees treeline mountains deciduous needles

The Gymnosperm Database
The Wild Garden
Burke Museum
Virginia Tech

The Dhole or Asiatic Wild Dog, Cuon alpinus, is an endangered canine with only about 2500 to 3000 individuals left in the wild. This unique species does not fit neatly into either the wolf-like nor fox-like canids, and therefore has its own genus. Dholes have two extra teets… and two less teeth than other wild dogs! They hunt in packs like wolves, but communicate with a whistle rather than a howl. Dholes are now mostly found in India and parts of China, but also can be found on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java.

dhole Cuon alpinus asiatic indian wild dog red canids asia indonesia china

ARKive   ADW
A to Z Animals
Dhole Fact File

Sagarmatha is the world’s highest national park, for it includes Mount Everest and the surrounding area of Nepal. About 3000 indigenous Sherpa people live here, along with world famous rhododendrons that bloom in April and May, pikas and snow leopards, and 193 different species of birds!

sagarmatha national park nepal himalayan mountains everest sherpa

UNESCO page
Beautiful World
YouTube Video tour

Kenilworth Ivy or Ivy-Leaved Toadflax, Cymbalaria muralis, was originally native to Mediterranean Europe but has been naturalized to the UK and parts of the USA for hundreds of years. It is widely planted in rock gardens and along garden pathways. This hardy snapdragon-like plant is an edible and a Stepable Plant that matures to just a few inches tall, but is often found creeping along or cascading over a stone wall or ledge, the whole plant being several feet long. The purple toadflax-like flowers have two lips with bright yellow spots on the lower one. Flowers draw back into the soil or rock crevice once fertilized.

Cymbalaria muralis climbing toadflax kenilworth ivy vine purple lipped wildflowers rock garden steps

Climbers by U of M
First Nature
Wild Plants of Malta
Get seeds on Amazon!

The desert heat has evaporated so much water from the Umm Al-maa oasis in the Sahara desert, that it is saltier than the sea. Yet migrating sparrows feast here. How? Watch this short little clip from BBC’s Africa documentary series to find out.

Poisonous Sahara Oasis

Here is a fun 5 1/2 minute video of 5 different micro creatures, listed below.

Euglena
Micro-worms
Daphnia
Rotifer
Seamonkey

Microscopic Farm

Common Heather, Calluna vulgaris, is a dominant plant in European moorland, and can also be found in some bog areas and pine forests. This hardy species of heath has come to be naturalized in parts of North America and Asia and is often cultivated in rock gardens around the world. There are close to 1000 different cultivars of this once-humble species, varying in growth form, flower color, flowering time, and other features. The natural species has tiny scale-like leaves and mostly pink flowers, and blooms in late summer.

 
Calluna vulgaris common scotch heather heath flowers wildflowers moor europe

ARKive   —   Wikipedia   —   EOL
YouTube video   —   UCONN Plants
How to Grow Heathers and Heaths

Of course, the Green Anole is not always green, as it can change to brown in order to hide from predators (like humans!). This has earned it the nickname “American Chameleon” although it is NOT a chameleon but rather is one of over 350 species of Anolis which is often studied for their biodiversity as well as for their neurology. Remarkably, this latter study is conducted to further our understanding of human physiology and medicine. Green anoles, Anolis carolinensis, are native to the southeastern United States, often found around low buildings with exposed wood, or in bushes near homes.

green anole carolina Anolis carolinensis lizards reptiles common north america florida south

NatureWorks   ADW   EOL
iNaturalist   Harrel House
Backyard Nature: Naturalist Newsletter

When my children were young, our family knew mallows as “cheeses” because their seeds come in a fun little package similar to a cheese wheel. The seeds are edible, so we used to hunt them down and have fun opening up the little wheels and crunching on the nutty little seeds. They are tiny, so this was more for fun than for nutrition. Common Mallow, Malva sylvestris, has one of the broadest geographical ranges of all mallows, and is also heavily researched for its medicinal properties. Many cultivars of mallow are also available for your gardening pleasure.

Malva sylvestris common mallow north american world wildflowers medicinal pink purple

Encyclopedia of Life
iNaturalist
Nature Gate
SEINet — Arizona Chapter
Permaculture – UK

North Side, South Side

They SAY that moss usually grows on the north side of trees, but this is just because the north side tends to be out of the sun during the most drying part of the day — leaving more moisture behind for mosses to grow.

north south side moss forest field investigation nature hike walk explore activity
Continue reading

Native Americans used the peeling bark of the paper birch, Betula papyrifera, as a waterproof covering or even container (such as a drinking cup or ladle). This hardy tree forms beautiful stands of white-bark trees from the southeast United States, across to Alaska. It is absent from the southwest, but extends far north into Canada. The serrated edge leaves appear alternate on the branches — or in groups of 2 or 3. In the spring, the dangling male catkins are about 3 inches long, female about half that length. The tree produces winged fruits in late summer or early autumn.

Betula papyrifera paper birch peeling white bark north america

What Tree Is It?
Illinois Wildflowers
KEW Botanical Gardens
Missouri Botanical Garden

The American Goldfinch, Spinus tristis, is one of North America’s last birds to get started building a family. In July, when other bird families include fledglings aplenty, the thistles are just starting to bloom. This signals the conspicuous bright yellow male goldfinch and his olive colored mate to start building a nest, constructed mostly of thistle down. When the eggs finally hatch, the thistles have gone to seed — the perfect time to start feeding chicks! Parent goldfinches serve their nestlings a milky cereal-like substance made of thistle seed — the bird world’s closest thing to mammal milk!

Spinus tristis male american goldfinch on thistles birds north america backyard yellow black white

eNatureBlog
Audubon
All About Birds
BirdNote
ARKive