Friday, July 31, 2009

Hungry snails

As we were walking to gaden this evening, Uzair noticed on the roadside a whole bunch of snails. Hmmm... what would so many of them be doing there at one spot like that? We sat down to take a closer look and discovered that all of them are 'fighting' over some piece of food. "How hungry they must be!?!" we were thinking. "Or may be that bit of food there was extra tasty?" No matter how hard we tried, we couldn't identify the object of this snail-fighting closer than cheese-looking 'something'. As we watched the snails, the ones in the back even started climbing over the ones in the front! What a view! We always thought of snails as slow and peaceful but here, right in front of our eyes, they were fighting over this bit of food!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Huge Stump-Mushroom

As we walked today towards the playground, we noticed in the grass right next to the side-walk a plate-size mushroom! We had seen mushrooms in the forest before, but, strangely, this one had made its home right in the middle of the city. It was 'sitting' comfortably at the side of an old tree-stump. We couldn't help but take a closer look at it.

Did you know that mushroom is not a plant but a fungus? If plants use nutrients and sunlight to get their food and stay alive, then fungi (plural of fungus) take food from their surroundings - this is how they are different. Mushrooms do it by breaking down material into basic nutrients. This is exactly why wild mushrooms usually sprout from old leaves or damp old logs. The fungi is breaking down the dead material to use as food. Because fungi decompose (or break down) things, they are also called decomposers. So here is the answer to why the mushroom we saw was so comfortably growing directly on that old stump! And, if you look carefully enough, you will see on the downside of our mushroom a small snail, who LOVES to eat mushrooms. :)

The Secret of 'Perfect' Manicure

Our mom taught Hafsa the secret of the most 'perfect' in the world manicure. Actually, it's just a two-minutes deal but looks like an hour has been invested. Can you guess the secret? :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Black swans

Have you ever seen black swans? No kidding - they are naturally black, not because they've spent hours in a coal bag. :) We especially liked their bright red beaks. Although the usual place for them to live is Australia, a park in Cesis also boasts of having one couple living in it.

We were feeding ducks with some bread and threw some pieces also closer to the swans, but, to our great surprise, they didn't seem to be interested at all. They left us and swam closer to the lady, who was weeding the nearby flower-beds. It turned out that she knew, what the swans wanted - she started throwing the weeds in the water, and the swans attacked them with such a speed, as if they hadn't eaten a whole week! Our conclusion - next time we'll see swans, we'll not feed them with bread but with some 'delicious' weeds.

Rainbow in a fountain

Last week, we went to Riga, the capital of Latvia. Riga has many beautiful parks. In one of these parks, we saw a rainbow closest as you can get! A channel was going trough the park and in that channel, there was a huge fountain. Since the day was very warm and sunny, we saw a beautiful rainbow right in that fountain!

We asked our mom to tell us, how it is possible for a rainbow to come in the fountain. We had seen a rainbow in the sky before, but this was something different.

Our mom told us that a rainbow is made by the sun-light bouncing back to us from the insides of raindrops. Ordinary light, like that from a light bulb or from the Sun, is called white light. White light is actually a mixture of seven colors. Light bends, when it passes through water. Each color bends a different amount. When white light enters a raindrop, the colors get separated. The white light splits into seven colors that we saw in that fountain. These seven colors always appear in the same order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (bluish-purple), and violet (purple). Now we know that it is not always necessary to have dark clouds and bright sunlight for seeing a rainbow.


As we were coming home today from Vecmamma's (grandmother's) garden, we noticed on the road ahead of us something, which looked like a big stone. As we got closer to it, the 'stone' began to move and run off from the garden road into the grass. To our great surprise, we found out that it was a hedgehog!

Our mom told us that these ball-like animals root through hedges and other undergrowth in search of the small creatures that compose the bulk of their diet: insects, worms, centipedes, snails, mice, frogs, and snakes. As a hedgehog picks its way through the hedges, you can hear piglike grunts - that's how this animal got the name of the hedgehog.

Local people are always happy to see hedgehogs in their gardens, because they prey on many common garden pests. While on the hunt, they rely upon their senses of hearing and smell because their eyesight is quite weak.

We got the chance to take a closer look at the hedgehog, because it got struck up in front of a freshly set up fence, which, most probably, blocked his way on his usual path of passing through the gardens. He tried really hard to poke his nose through the holes and escape from us, but, of course, unsucessfully.

Hedgehogs have a coat of stiff, sharp spines. When we touched him, we were surprised, how sharp the spines were! The spines themselves were dark gray, but their ends were nearly white. Feeling our fingers on his back, the hedgehog curled up into a prickly ball, hiding all his soft body-parts under the needles. This is how they protect themselves from their enemies - no animal would dare to touch, not even talking about eating, such a needle-ball!

As we were checking out the hedgehog, a lady came up to us and said that she would put him to the side of the fence; otherwise, he might not find his way around on time and some car might run over him. We were very curious to see, how she would pick up this ball of needles. But she knew what she was doing. She placed her upside-open palms under the hedgehog (where his soft body parts were) and picked him up this way - she didn't get hurt by the spines! Hedgehog was a bit nervous in her hands, but as soon as his feet touched the grass and he realized that the troube of the fence was solved, he very briskly dissappeared under the red-currants bush. And that's the last we saw of him...