Sunday, March 31, 2013

Furry and Feathered Friends

These are the rest of our photos, continued from Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Part 1. 

One of our favorite spots was the bird observation hut in the Native Plants section. (They had, by the way, 900 species of native plants alone, all labeled with tags in the ground. And that was in only one section of the 4-section garden, to give you an idea of the scope of this place. Incredible.) 

Scratching squirrel! 

We sat and watched the birds for a long while. We didn't even need the binoculars here because they were so close. We were treated to a pair of Golden Finches, several pairs of Cardinals, a Red-Headed WoodPecker, and many more happy birdies, along with the squirrels who have equal love for the bird feeders. 

We also enjoyed the large pond in the Asiatic garden, populated by geese and a wide variety of ducks, who all honked and paddled happily after the rain, and turtles, who happily lazed on the rocks. 

Also, I feel the need to share this, because I learned it relatively recently and it seems like many people are unaware. Don't feed bread, crackers, or other snack foods to ducks, geese, or other water foul. It has very dangerous consequences: changing the PH balance of the water, damaging the intestinal systems of the critters, and eventually killing them. There were signs posted around the pond asking people not to feed bread, but I overheard many people talking about wanting to bring bread back another day. It's amazing how often people don't read signs, or care. We are part of nature, too, and its irresponsible to ignore rules like these that protect the wellbeing of the critters and nature. You can buy duck food, or even bring lettuce, if you'd like to feed the animals, safely. Pass the info on to your friends and family, too! 

Quack quack! 

We have special love for the geese. 

We had already seen most all of our favorite critters-geese, ducks, squirrels, birds, and turtles- when we got one final treat: chickens. Tucked away in a corer was the entrance to the exploratory gardens, which was essentially a homestead in the middle of the gardens. They had honey bees, an edible forest, gardens, rain collection systems, compost, and, of course, chickens. Chickens make me the happiest and I can't wait to have our own, so seeing them always makes me squeal with glee. They were the perfect finish to our lovely garden walk. 

After the gardens, we hopped over to the Ackland Art Museum at UNC, which also had free admission. (The gardens were free, too!) We spent the last hour or two browsing their permanent collection, which featured a lot of neat ancient pottery, and their current exhibition, More Love. 

So, today was pretty much perfect: nature, birds, meditation, chickens, and art. It was a great last day of free roaming before we enter about 2 months of work exchanges, beginning tomorrow at the vineyard. Can't wait! 


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