Saturday, November 28, 2009

Geese - Thousands of Geese

We were out on a trip to the pet cemetery to visit the cats' graves and while we were getting the flowers out of the the car I heard what sounded like geese. That was odd since I didn't recall there being any water around the pet cemetery.

Sometimes geese fly overhead, and we looked around but nothing. The noise got louder and louder, and it sounded like hundreds of geese. Where were they?

Finally, maybe a thousand feet up in the air, we saw these tiny dots like dust specks swirling about and sometimes forming huge v's. These were the geese!

It was not just mesmerizing, but supernatural. Wave after wave of groups of screaming geese swept over us at that thousand feet (or more?) heights. Tens of thousands of geese, each group calling to one another and the sounds drifting down to us. It went on for most of twenty minutes until we finally left the cemetery - but it may have been going on for hours.

One other weird thing, too. Below the geese, perhaps only a few hundred of so feet up, there were at least a dozen turkey vultures circling. It seemed obvious, they were awaiting a tired goose to fall out of the sky so they could pounce on the crushed feathered body. We saw at least one hawk, too.

All in all, this was a weird and powerful experience.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monarch Migration at Bernheim Forest (KY)

Mr. Bruggers, I apologize.
I meant no disrespect, and here is the link. I have removed the rest of the text and images.

Please visit Mr. Bruggers article.

Volunteers track monarch migration as population shrinks
By James Bruggers • • September 13, 2009

Monarch butterflies glide and soar like hawks ... more ...

Is the Loch ness Monster a Real Eel?

Steve Alten, a native of Philadelphia, holds a Bachelors degree in Physical Education from Penn State University, a Master in Sports Medicine from the University of Delaware, and a Doctorate degree in Sports Administration from Temple University. His first book, MEG; A Novel of Deep Terror was a N.Y.Times bestseller and was sold in more than a dozen countries.

I had no idea about any of his Loch Ness (real life) theories until I heard him on George Noory the other night. He's spent much time and money trying to figure out the Loch Ness mystery.

His opinion is based on a theory that Sargasso Sea species of eel has for millenia been carried by sea currents into inland water systems of Great Britain. It's true and many specimens have been found. Steve himself apprently posted a bounty for evidence, and a tooth of an eel was found in a half-eaten deer carcass on an island of a small lakelet. That tooth was huge, and allegedly this model is based on that tooth or one like it.

Eels do not die unless they spawn. However, lake-locked eels cannot spawn unless they can escape and swim back to Sargasso spawing grounds. Otherwise they live much over 100 years, and continue to grow as they eat.

They love dark, deep, cold water - and thus Loch Ness is an ideal area - plenty of food, lenty of deep, dark, cool water.

And they have teeth. And they are amphibious and can not only crawl on land, small eels can climb trees like a snake. There is no escape once they latch onto "food" which could include peoples. Eek.

These are images that folks associated with Alten have found and formed. Be afraid of the dark waters - be very afraid.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Weird Pink Grasshopper!

11-year-old boy finds pink grasshopper
A rare pink grasshopper has been found by a schoolboy taking part in a nature trail.

By Richard Savill
Published: 7:00AM BST 11 Sep 2009

Pink grasshopper: The insect was identified by wildlife officers as an adult female common green grasshopper, which has been born pink. Photo: APEX
The insect was found by 11-year-old Daniel Tate who thought it was a flower until he saw it jump and then he realised it was a grasshopper.

The insect was later identified by wildlife officers as an adult female common green grasshopper, which has been born pink.

Daniel, who attended the wildlife event at Seaton Marshes, near Sidmouth, Devon, with his great grandfather, said: "I was looking for grasshoppers when I saw something pink.

"I thought it was a flower but I saw it moving, so I tried to catch it. It jumped and then I knew it was a grasshopper."

He added: “I was really excited to hear that no one else had found a pink grasshopper at that place before.”

Fraser Rush, nature reserves officer for East Devon District Council, said: “There are millions of common green grasshoppers but I have never seen a pink one. The female comes in a variety of colours, normally different shades of green and brown. Occasionally it tends towards purple, but this is a leap beyond that to pink.”

He added: “Pink grasshoppers are unusual but not unheard of. However the intensity of the pink in this case must make it highly unusual.”

Mr Rush said the pink grasshopper was “a natural variety of the species, albeit a rare one. It has not been caused by any mutation, or any environmental effects.”

He added: “There is a chance it will have bred already and will pass on its pink gene.”

After being studied the grasshopper was released back into the reserve.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Giant Worm of Moscow, Idaho

Searchers shovel Northwest dirt seeking giant worm
By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS (12 July 2009)

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — The giant Palouse earthworm has taken on mythic qualities in this vast agricultural region that stretches from eastern Washington into the Idaho panhandle — its very name evoking the fictional sandworms from "Dune" or those vicious creatures from the movie "Tremors."

The worm is said to secrete a lily-like smell when handled, spit at predators, and live in burrows 15 feet deep. There have been only a handful of sightings.

But scientists hope to change that this summer with researchers scouring the Palouse region in hopes of finding more of the giant earthworms. Conservationists also want the Obama administration to protect the worm as an endangered species, even though little research has been done on it.

The worm may be elusive, but there's no doubt it exists, said Jodi Johnson-Maynard, a University of Idaho professor who is leading the search for the worm. To prove it, she pulled out a glass tube containing the preserved remains of a fat, milky-white worm. One of Johnson-Maynard's graduate students found this specimen in 2005, and it is the only confirmed example of the species.

The worm in the tube is about 6 inches long, well short of the 3 feet that early observers of the worms in the late 1890s described. Documented collections of the species, known locally as GPE, have occurred only in 1978, 1988, 1990 and 2005.

The farmers who work the rich soil of the Palouse — 2 million acres of rolling wheat fields near the Idaho-Washington border south of Spokane — also have had little experience with the worm.

Gary Budd, who manages a grain elevator in Uniontown, said no farmer he knows has talked about seeing the worm. He compared the creature to Elvis.

"He gets spotted once in awhile too," Budd joked.

Johnson-Maynard and her team of worm hunters are working this summer at a university research farm and using three different methods to try and find a living worm.

One involves just digging a hole and sifting the soil through a strainer, looking for any worms that can be studied.

The second involves old-fashioned chemical warfare, pouring a liquid solution of vinegar and mustard onto the ground, irritating worms until they come to the surface.

The third method is new to this search, using electricity to shock worms to the surface.

"The electro shocker is pretty cool," said Joanna Blaszczak, a student at Cornell who is spending her summer working to find the worm alongside Shan Xu, a graduate student from Chengdu, China, and support scientist Karl Umiker.

The shocker can deliver up to 480 volts. That makes it dangerous to touch, and it could potentially fry a specimen.

On a recent day, Umiker drove eight 3-foot-long metal rods into the ground in a small circle and connected them to batteries. Then he flipped the switches. The only sound for several minutes was the hum of a cooling fan.

"I'm kind of bummed we haven't seen anything yet," Umiker said.

Eventually, a small rust-colored worm dug its way to the surface. It was not a GPE, but it was collected for study anyway.

The search for the giant worm is reminiscent of efforts in Louisiana, Florida and the swamps of eastern Arkansas to find the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker. The large, black-and-white bird was believed to be extinct until a reported sighting five years ago stirred national experts and federal funding to launch a full-blown campaign to verify its existence. Search efforts later dwindled after biologists and volunteers were unable to find the evidence they were looking for.

The GPE was described as common in the Palouse in the 1890s, according to an 1897 article in The American Naturalist by Frank Smith. Smith's work was based on four samples sent to him by R.W. Doane of Washington State University in nearby Pullman.

Massive agricultural development soon consumed nearly all of the unique Palouse Prairie — a seemingly endless ocean of steep, silty dunes — and appeared to deal a fatal blow to the worm.

They were considered extinct when Idaho graduate student Yaniria Sanchez-de Leon in 2005 stuck a shovel into the ground to collect a soil sample and found the worm that now is in the tube in Johnson-Maynard's office.

Conservation groups quickly petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the worm as an endangered species, citing as proof the lack of sightings. But the agency said there simply was not enough scientific information to merit a listing.

Conservationists recently filed a second request, saying they had more information. They are also hoping the Obama administration will be more friendly than the Bush administration. The GPE would be the only worm protected as an endangered species.

Doug Zimmer of the Fish and Wildlife Service in Seattle said the agency isn't ready to comment on the petition.

"It's always good to see new information and good science on any species," Zimmer said.

Farmers are keeping a wary eye on the process.

"The concern is whether a listing is going to end up curtailing farming activities," said Dan Wood of the Washington State Farm Bureau. "I don't know if people plan to stop all farming for the possibility of a worm being somewhere."

Most earthworms found in the Northwest originated in Europe, arriving on plants or in soil shipped to the New World. The giant Palouse earthworm is one of the few native species, and has become quite popular with the public.

While it's tough to come by a live GPE, visitors seem happy to take a picture with a dead one. Johnson-Maynard said she has received calls from tourists who want to come to her office and be photographed with the specimen.

"A lot of people are curious about it," she said.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

two-toned squirrel

Two-Toned Squirrel

From Coast to Coast AM 10 June 2009

June, 6 2009-- I looked out the window and saw a squirrel unlike any I've ever seen. When I was taking the pictures inside, I thought it was two different species, half and half. When I got outside it almost looked like the squirrel lost all its fur on the front side. and after it climbed the tree a bit, it looked more like a young squirrel that hasn't fully grown into its adult fur and color. I'm still not sure what this squirrel's deal is.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Cow that escaped slaughterhouse dies

Read how the cows gathered around in the last moments as protection, and with their own brand of care.


Cincinnati leap to freedom won hearts

Cincinnati Freedom, the fugitive cow who drew headlines around the world when she escaped from a slaughterhouse in Ohio in 2002 and eluded authorities for 11 days, has died at an animal sanctuary in New York.

The 2,000-pound white Charolais, "adopted" by internationally renowned artist Peter Max after her stirring escape in Cincinnati, was put down Dec. 29 at the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, N.Y., shortly after being diagnosed with spinal cancer.

The quickly spreading cancer, which becomes apparent in cows only when the size of the tumor puts pressure on the spine, caused the cow, who often was called Cinci or Freedom for short, to lose the use of her back legs.

The day before Cinci's death, Farm Sanctuary officials noticed her stumbling, and by the following day she was paralyzed and couldn't walk, said Susie Coston, the sanctuary's national shelter director.

Even so, Cinci, always shy around humans, tried to crawl away when a veterinarian arrived to examine her, Coston said.

Cinci's closest pals in the sanctuary's herd of about 50 cattle -- other slaughterhouse escapees that include Queenie from Queens, N.Y., Maxine from New York and Annie Dodge from Vermont -- were no more thrilled to see the vet and dented her car, Coston said.

The evening before, when her immobility kept Cinci in the pasture, her bovine buddies spent the night with her.

"She had some very good friends who were very protective of her," Coston said.

After the vet determined there was no hope Cinci would recover use of her legs, sanctuary officials decided to euthanize her.

Again, the herd surrounded Cinci, with one of the oldest steers, Kevin, licking her face, while Iris, an older female, licked her back in her final minutes, said Natalie Bowman, the sanctuary's communications director. They remained with Cinci until she was buried after initially chasing a worker, who had arrived to handle the task, back to his tractor.

"It was very moving," Coston said. "I've never seen anything like it. You really saw all those basic emotions at work."

Cinci became a folk hero in February 2002 when, moments before she was to be slaughtered, she jumped a 6-foot fence at Ken Meyer Meats in Cincinnati and evaded police and officials from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for a week and a half while foraging in Mount Storm Park.

News outlets from Canada, England, France, Germany and Australia covered the saga, which also repeatedly made the national news. Then-Mayor Charlie Luken pledged to give her a key to the city.

After her capture, Max, saying he was "very touched by this cow's run for freedom, for life," bought the animal from Meyer Meats and paid to send her to the sanctuary in upstate New York, where hundreds of animals rescued from slaughterhouses, stockyards and factory farms receive lifelong care.

Max named the cow Cincinnati Freedom. He also often called her Cindy Woo, Coston said.

Sanctuary officials were not certain of Cinci's age but estimate that she was 6 to 8 years old when she arrived in April 2002.

"That's a pretty good life for a Charolais," Coston said.

At the sanctuary, Cinci apparently found that it was more fun to eat when one did have not to worry any longer about being eaten herself, gaining more than 500 pounds.

"She was a bit of a chunk," Coston said, laughing. Still, to the end, Cinci could clear a 5-foot fence from a standstill, she said.

"It was an amazing thing to see," she said.

Something of a celebrity at the sanctuary, Cinci drew countless visitors familiar with her story.

"People from Ohio were always visiting," Bowman said.

Coston thinks she understands why.

"She symbolized the will to live, to enjoy life and not be messed with," Coston said. "We can relate to that."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Very Old Lobster Drama


NYC eatery grants freedom to lobster centenarian

By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press Writer Verena Dobnik, Associated Press Writer – Sat Jan 10, 2:05 am ET

NEW YORK – A 140-year-old lobster once destined for a dinner plate received the gift of life Friday from a Park Avenue seafood restaurant.

George, the 20-pound supercentenarian crustacean, was freed by City Crab and Seafood in New York City.

"We applaud the folks at City Crab and Seafood for their compassionate decision to allow this noble old-timer to live out his days in freedom and peace," said Ingrid E. Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA spokesman Michael McGraw said the group asked City Crab to return George to the Atlantic Ocean after a diner saw him at the restaurant, where steamed Maine lobster sells for $27 per pound. George had been caught off Newfoundland, Canada and lived in the tank for about 10 days before his release.

Some scientists estimate lobsters can live to be more than 100 years old. PETA and the restaurant guessed George's age at about 140, using a rule of thumb based on the creature's weight.

He was to be released Saturday near Kennebunkport, Maine, in an area where lobster trapping is forbidden.