First Flowers of Spring

I haven't posted to this blog for a long, long time, but I wanted to keep up the tradition of posting a picture of the first flowers to bloom here in my part of Framingham, Massachusetts.  Here they are!  March 29, 2014! Yay!


Goliath Heron! He's a GIANT HERON!

This magnificent creature is the largest heron in existence today. We saw this one in Zambia.  It is a Goliath Heron, presumably named after the giant named Goliath from the bible,  Pete caught sight of this guy, and I'm frankly surprised that my photos came out as well as they did, considering that we were in a boat at the time.

Check out that bill!  It's massive!  This bird stands nearly a foot taller then the Great Blue Heron, and has a wingspan of 7 feet or more.  It's an aptly named, gigantic bird!

I would love to have seen this guy raise his massive crest, but that never happened in front of us.  These birds are monogamous, but they have a courtship dance that is a real sight.  They don't have a "mating Season" per se, and have been seen raising their young all year long.  

That gargantuan bill regularly catches fish weighing more than a pound and well over twelve inches long.  It takes a lot of food to satisfy this guy!

This big guy even flies differently than other herons.  His legs are so large that they hang down a bit in flight instead of being held straight out behind him.  Yeah, this is one gigantic bird.  I'm thrilled to add it to my life list!


When you hear hooves - think ZEBRAS!

No one could resist getting excited at the sight of a baby zebra!  They are so cute and cuddly looking that they look more like stuffed animals than wild animals!  (By the way, if you are reading this and saying zee-bra, you are pronouncing it wrong.  In Botswana and Zambia, the last letter of the alphabet is pronounced "zed".  The word Zebra should rhyme with the word Debra).

We saw a LOT of zebras in Botswana and Zambia, and eventually they became so familiar that they hardly rated a second glance. These zebras were our first ever, though, and we were all awestruck by their beauty and by their behavior.  Just look at these guys - you could spend hours just studying the different patterns of their stripes!  These wild Savannah zebras seemed to be as fascinated by us as we were by them.

This particular fellow (and I felt certain it was a male, although I have no real reason for thinking that)  had a really LARGE head and neck compared to the rest of the herd.  I couldn't take my eyes off of him!

The only thing that I found more fascinating than the big zebra was the baby zebras.  There were a few youngsters in the bunch.

Our guide in Botswana, Ra KB, told how to distinguish male zebras from female zebras.  Unfortunately, I can't remember if you go by the stripe on the belly or the stripe on the butt, so I don't know if this zebra a girl baby or a boy baby!

I think looking at a zebra is like looking at an M. C. Escher print; each one is a unique work of art, and each one is also an optical illusion!

Here's a very unique zebra!  This one was spotted at our hotel at Victoria Falls in Zambia.  Since all the Zambia photos will be explored in later posts, I'll finish my zebra post with this fantastic artwork photographed by my daughter, Meghan Wrublewski.  Thanks, Meg!