Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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The Ornithologically Plenteous

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Photo Credit: David July — Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) chick in its rookery nest, St. Augustine, Florida: 27 May 2013

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) chick in its rookery nest.

999 Anastasia Boulevard, St. Augustine, Florida: 27 May 2013


part of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park album

A haven for great egrets, snowy egrets, cattle egrets, tricolored herons, green herons, little blue herons, wood storks and roseate spoonbills, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park rookery is an amazing place to observe and photograph gregarious wading birds roosting and raising their young.

Photo Credit: David July — Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) with two chicks in her nest while three Great Egrets (Ardea alba) look around the rookery, St. Augustine, Florida: 27 May 2013

Although it may seem strange that 736 adults would build 463 nests to raise their 601 chicks (2013 count) above a swamp filled with hundreds of alligators, the birds choose this place knowing that they are safe from tree-climbing predators.

Photo Credit: David July — Two Great Egret (Ardea alba) chicks in their nest at the rookery, St. Augustine, Florida: 27 May 2013

A boardwalk winds through the rookery swamp providing incredible views of the adult birds, chicks, eggs and nests at close range. Most sections of the wooden walkway border trees, providing an intimate perspective not usually available.

Photo Credit: David July — Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) standing over her two chicks in their rookery nest, St. Augustine, Florida: 27 May 2013

The zoo features many exhibits with exotic and in some cases endangered species — participating in the Species Survival Plan conservation project and conducting biological research — but I was most captivated by the rookery.

Photo Credit: David July — Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) with three eggs makes adjustments to her rookery nest, St. Augustine, Florida: 27 May 2013

Based on the typical schedule, activity at the rookery has already begun for this year's season. From late April to early May, things usually get the most chaotic with loud, overlapping vocalizations and loads of chicks from every species hatched. This was my general experience on 27 May 2013.

Photo Credit: David July — Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) vocalizing while sitting in a tree in the rookery, St. Augustine, Florida: 27 May 2013

First established in 1893 as the St. Augustine Alligator Farm at South Beach, the current location was built in 1920 after two fires within four months destroyed the original. I really enjoyed my visit and shot 721 photographs plus nine videos. Suffice it to say, more images from this shoot will be developed hereafter.

Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July

The Marble-Graven Men

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Photo Credit: David July — Wall-mounted lighting fixture in the portico with three marble busts outside the Old Supreme Court Chamber on 1F in the north wing of the United States Capitol (1811/1866), Washington, District of Columbia: 02 February 2014

Wall-mounted lighting fixture in the portico with three marble busts outside the Old Supreme Court Chamber on 1F in the north wing of the United States Capitol (1811/1866).

First Street SE, Washington, District of Columbia: 02 February 2014


part of the United States Capitol album

Outside and across the ground floor corridor from the Old Supreme Court Chamber in the Capitol, there is a portico with three marble busts of foreign-born military figures on display.

Kazimierz Michał Władysław Wiktor Pułaski (1745–1779) of Warsaw, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a nobleman and military commander who fought against Russian domination in his country before emigrating to the United States to fight and die in the American Revolutionary War.

Photo Credit: David July — Marble bust of Casimir Pulaski (1857) by Henry Dmochowski Saunders in a portico outside the Old Supreme Court Chamber on 1F in the north wing of the United States Capitol (1811/1866), Washington, District of Columbia: 02 February 2014

Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807–1882) of Nice, France was a sailor, merchant captain, mercenary fighter and navy officer who participated in a mutiny against the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, engaged in freelance warfare in Brazil and Uruguay and later became an acclaimed military leader in Italy.

Photo Credit: David July — Marble bust of Giuseppe Garibaldi (1887) by Giuseppe Martegana in a portico outside the Old Supreme Court Chamber on 1F in the north wing of the United States Capitol (1811/1866), Washington, District of Columbia: 02 February 2014

Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura Kościuszko (1746–1817) of Mereczowszczyzna, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a traveler and student who came to the United States in 1776 to fight and provide key strategies, earning him a rank of brigadier general before returning to his county to fight the Russians.

Photo Credit: David July — Marble bust of Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1857) by Henry Dmochowski Saunders in a portico outside the Old Supreme Court Chamber on 1F in the north wing of the United States Capitol (1811/1866), Washington, District of Columbia: 02 February 2014

In celebration of what would have been Pulaski's 267th birthday, the Poles in America Foundation with congressional support from Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL) conducted a wreath laying ceremony at the bust in 2012. Uniformed members of the now non-military Pulaski Cadets (1833) were also in attendance.

Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July

The William Howard Taft Cameo

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Photo Credit: David July — Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) crossing the lawn just west of the United States Capitol (1811/1866) House Chamber in broad daylight, Washington, District of Columbia: 02 February 2014

Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) crossing the lawn just west of the United States Capitol (1811/1866) House Chamber in broad daylight.

Near Southwest Drive at First Street SW, Washington, District of Columbia: 02 February 2014


part of the United States Capitol album

As Erik and I walked the paths around the United States Capitol just west of the House Chamber, something in the grass between us and the building caught my eye. Moving closer down and to the edge of the sidewalk, where a fence keeps people off the grass in this area, we could see that it was a Virginia opossum.

Photo Credit: David July — Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) crossing the lawn just west of the United States Capitol (1811/1866) House Chamber in broad daylight, Washington, District of Columbia: 02 February 2014

The only marsupial in North America north of Mexico, the Virginia or North American opossum is generally nocturnal. While certainly not uncommon in urban areas where greater opportunities for food exist, I was a bit surprised to see this opossum on the grounds of the Capitol in the middle of the afternoon.

Photo Credit: David July — Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) crossing the lawn just west of the United States Capitol (1811/1866) House Chamber in broad daylight, Washington, District of Columbia: 02 February 2014

We watched it make its way across the lawn, moving away from the building and toward a nearby tree. It paused for a moment to check us out but then continued on as before. A woman walking by stopped to look and asked us what kind of animal it was. I got the impression that she had never seen one before and was possibly a tourist from abroad.

Photo Credit: David July — Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) crossing the lawn just west of the United States Capitol (1811/1866) House Chamber in broad daylight, Washington, District of Columbia: 02 February 2014

The opossum stopped when it got to the tree it was seemingly walking toward. I expected it to climb the tree at this point but it just sat there. Unfortunately, we were on a tight schedule to rendezvous with a Capitol staffer and could not hang out to watch the opossum further and see what it did next.

Photo Credit: David July — Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) crossing the lawn just west of the United States Capitol (1811/1866) House Chamber in broad daylight, Washington, District of Columbia: 02 February 2014

Due to the success of Morris Michtom and his stuffed bear named after President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, another toy company decided to try and recreate the same magic in 1908. Their "Billy Possum" plush toy design was instead after William Howard Taft, Roosevelt's likely successor.

Although Billy Possum does appear in several political cartoons and Taft was indeed elected to office, the opossum toy failed to capture the public's attention as the teddy bear had only years earlier.

Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: David July