Binocular Bird, Olympic Fish, Debuting Dog

Here's a look at some of what's been happening at The Naturalist's Notebookover the last few days, and other news and notes from the intersection of nature, science, art and curiosity:

Birds have sharp vision, but this hermit warbler seemed eager to try out the binoculars while hitching a ride recently on a boat off the Southern California coast with Notebook correspondent Kathy Weathers.

A clearer shot of the hermit warbler, a species that tends to live in the tops of the West Coast’s tallest trees.

Kathy spotted this gull devouring a sea star near Bar Island off Bar Harbor here in Maine.

Lava flow? No, a tree that has grown around a fence outside the Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport, Rhode Island, where Kathy saw and photographed it.

Kathy also photographed another fence-swallowing display by a different tree.

Meanwhile, At The Notebook...

Puppy in the house! Virginia brought in Bashi, the Australian shepherd pup that she and Eli adopted over the weekend. You’ll be seeing lots of Bashi (and Virginia and Eli) at the Notebook this year.

The spectral stoop at the Notebook is ready. Here Julie is adding a coat of polyurethane to complete Eli’s brilliant idea. It has been fascinating to watch the reaction of passers-by to this work of art—drivers have even turned their cars around just to make sure they saw what they think they saw. Just wait until they see what’s inside the Notebook.

Eli took a celebratory first leap onto the finished stoop, with the puppy ready to follow him.

Haley is designing our flower boxes, which also will highlight colors in the order of the spectrum as part of a much broader project Pamelia has created.

The flowers include a gazania with a two-toned blossom. I’d never heard of a gazania, but it’s a member of the aster family and is native to South Africa. It’s sometimes called the African daisy.

View From Europe Luka Negoita, the young naturalist and Notebook contributor, just returned from his Kickstarter-funded project in Romania, his family's homeland. Luka emailed us one of his beautiful charcoal drawings of the Romanian countryside:

Luka and Philip Walter traveled the Romanian countryside collecting and documenting old knowledge—about plants and many other things—that is in danger of being lost because of modernization.

Commencement Talk: Robert Krulwich Pamelia and I watched Julie and Virginia graduate at College of the Atlantic, a memorable event under any circumstances, but especially so because of the wonderful commencement address delivered by National Public Radio correspondent and Radiolab co-host Robert Krulwich. I wish I had it on video, because Krulwich delivered it with such geniality and humor. Into his own story of meanderings, missteps and a career-altering bathroom urinal conversation with playwright Arthur Miller, he wove insights into How Life Works (you might accidentally back into your greatest opportunities; avoid the Yes, But people and instead try to find Why Not? and Give It a Shot people; knowing how to learn and that you can learn, at any age, can be your most valuable assets).

Robert Krulwich at the COA graduation.

Here's a link to the full text of the speech if you're interested:

Strange, Funny, Out of This World It's no secret that we're big fans of astrophysicist, writer and TV science host Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York. Ralph Fahringer, another Notebook contributor, passed along the video below, in which—through the marvels of modern sound-bending science—deGrasse Tyson and renowned physicists Richard Feynman and Lawrence Krauss actually sing about the universe and how all the elements that make up our planet and ourselves were created in the heat of exploding stars long ago.

New Olympic Aquatics Center Since I'm so deep into my London Olympic preparations (I'll be heading to my Sports Illustrated office in New York soon to finish editing the magazine's preview issue, and will then fly to London), I probably should begin giving you a glimpse of what you'll see when the Games open on July 27. So here's a start: a look at the Olympic Aquatics Centre. It sits in Olympic Park, a new complex of venues built in a formerly blighted section of East London.

The $421 million aquatics center was designed by Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid (a woman) and sits near the Olympic stadium and the velodrome. This is what the place looked like last fall when I and other international journalists toured it and other London Olympic venues. One woman reporter in our group dipped her finger in the diving pool (the pool in back) before being scolded. In case you’re wondering what Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and other swimming stars will feel when they dive in, the water temperature of the pool will be kept at 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) for competition.

Maine. Compass Harbor, to be exact, as it looked when Pamelia and I took a short walk there on our way home the other night. Just another reason why Maine’s promotes itself with the slogan The Way Life Should Be.

Answer to the Last Puzzler The bird in the photo is a magnolia warbler

Today's Puzzler Clouds are made of water. How long does any given water molecule stay in a cloud before it falls to earth? a) 12 hours b) 9 days c) 6 weeks

Clouds at Compass Harbor.