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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The impact of dead, beached and decomposing Whales around the globe

Again a pod of Whales has been stranded on a beach in SW Australia. And although I have been able to find news archives and updates on the 17 surviving Whales, the announcement of the RSPCA this weekend, that it might be better to put some beached animals down then to try and save them, must be out there too somewhere.
I just have not found it yet.

YeYesterday, I found this website though, talking of how in December 2008, a Whale carcass was found, floating next to the pier in Manilla harbour, next to a large passenger ship.
According to Lory Tan, vice chairman of the World Wildlife Fund-Philippines, a similar incident occurred in 2007, when when it involved a a dead Baleen Whale, decomposing in the
busy port.
If the Phillipines lose their Whales, they might end up with a large gap in the eco system of the waters around Manilla, when the food the Cetaceans would normally prey on and eat, is kept alive, preying on more of the next level in the foodchain. (which in turn can mean less food/work for the fishermen too)

It is not often that I find anything this extensive on any of the Whale beachings which I googled in the last year or so.

In Australia, meanwhile the 17 surviving Whales, and Dolphins, will be transported to a sheltered bay tomorrow by truck.

With the announcement of the RSPCA on beached Cetaceans in UK waters, or rather UK beaches, that it is more humane to put an animal, which is too far from its (deep water) habitat, as with the Thames Whale in 2006, down there and then. Although I'm a strong believer in rescue where possible, I do believe that in some cases this might be a lot better decision. Nevertheless, there will be a lot of other opinions, I think.

One thing which caught my eye on the website, this morning, was that the RSPCA explains that one of the reasons why the Thames Whale died on the barge back to sea, was the crushing of its own body.
Would this mean that the remaining 17 Cetaceans in Australia's Hamlin Bay might meet a similar end, or is this my untrained eye which adds up the wrong facts? Loading these large Long Finned Whales onto a truck followed by a drive to their next release site, must be traumatising and dangerous for these animals?
Please tell me my thinking is wrong?
Well, I guess that tomorrow will tell us all.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Getting up close and personal with Nature

I guess that most of you have heard of singer Dave Walker? I had no idea that he had such an interest in Nature and loved his daily walk and that he took spring flowers one step around the corner.
A lover of all things clear and vivid. this is his website where he takes his magnifying lens up close.

And check out some of these seasonal shortcuts for Bees and nder September, these Butterfly scales, which apparently are in fact modified hairs.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The mass of Europeans go onto their knees

I've enjoyed watching Jimmy Doherty on the Beeb, not showing us his prize and beloved pork & bacons on short legs, but copying Darwin experiments in the garden of Down House and in the fields behind Darwin's former home.

At the end of the program, Jimmy shows us the shells of Banded Snails, broken on the 'stone anvil' used by a Song Thrush.

Banded snails' shells, range from brown to pink to yellow and other beautiful colours, which would protect the snail within its habitat.

The expert told us that in the 1920s a survey showed that certain coloured bands were being found in different parts of the country.
So now you too can go down to the ground and look for Snails. And if you happen to find any Banded Snail, you are asked to go onto the Internet and tell of your find, its coluor and where you found it.

I had assumed that this wesite, which is joined by the Open University and the British Cuoncil, the Evolution MegaLab, was an all British affair, so imagine my surprise that it is indeed Mega with various European countries, like Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain taking part.

I just wish they would not use light blue text on white background. Who would ever think that was a good contrast for the majority of the users?

And if you are wondering which snails are the ones you need to look for, well, here's their ID guide.
This last page also tells you how and where to hunt.
You can also find a forum on the megalab, for when you want to utter more about more..

I'm indeed very curious to hear the result of the survey. Will the population of Snails have increased now that we have less Song Thrush around us?
Corvids of course eat Snails also, but on a much scale perhaps? And what about Blackbirds?
(well, those are muy thoughts, not those of the Megalab, I'd think.)

Still, as I said in the title, with several countries taking part (I need to check with Paul of or Nature's calendar, Ireland, if Eire is taking part also) I really had this vision of people on their knees, turning over Snail broken shells all over Europe.
(you see it too? Good.) well who knows. You'll need a superior scope though. I doubt my little bins will do the job, LOL1

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Humble Dandelion

Last Wednesday night was full moon and the next day a nice day. Cloudy, yet the wind had died down a little. Francis warned me it was going to rain, but I just needed to go. Last year I had trouble with photographing Dandelions and Hawkbits. Ordinary weeds in most people's eyes, but in mine these are lovely flowers.
At the roadside I spotted about half a dozen of Dandelions in various stages of opening up. I was thrilled to bits with my find! While I was trying to find my best position for my photography, and then during the clicking of my shutter, the rain came down. well, it started as a lovely drizzle or a nice summer shower. Whilst trying to protect the camera, I kept clicking.
Here are just a few of those on the ground:

Gorse flowers is another of those flowers which I find very hard to take pictures of, they are often too many bunched together and you need to be close to focus on just the one flower. So imagine my joy when I found this single one right above the Dandies!

And these are hanging from the little tree in front of my house in the garden below us.

This one I found this morning, growing immediately in front of my gate. A nice sunny good morning.

Along the road the Blackthorn's flowers are almosdt ready. Making me very anxious for their beauty.

Nina was curious about this vent one day, trying to climb up over the outer wall of the house. Later it seemed that she had heard the buzzing of a Bumblebee which must have gone inside to wait out the shower. It is of course a nice sheltered spot!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nina the cat in front of the camera

Sorry, this post and slide show, is not about any wildlife, or birds. still, I hope you like the slides.

Last year I often would take pictures of Nina, our white feline, once darkness had set in and my birds had moved off to their perch. In those days, Nina was still camping on my kitchen table, behind the laptop or trying to squeeze in between the laptop and me. This would make typing a little harder, so this would be allowed only for short periods. These days she has moved into the bedroom again, sleeping all day with only a few short breaks. Our camera sessions have become a rarity these days, which suits me. Still, I think that every pet owner likes to photograph their pet, trying to capture that special character which is what you fell in love with.

After my run to Eddy's, our village grocer, I went out again for a few pictures of spring flowers and left over berries in the hedgerows. (I am surprised that so many are still untouched. Have we been feeding them too much? Or are these left for a rainy day? As if we haven't had any of these!)

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Nina's feline welcome
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A quick ride to and fro.

like I said on Birding on Wheels, I went for a quick ride to my local patch, the Bay. Also, I wanted to check on the Arum Lilies along the back road of which I posted some pictures last autumn, asking for an ID. These have spread out and the leaves are looking lovely and these leaves would actually look great as a potplant. (Not necessarily the Lily itself, just the leaves remind me much of houseplants I used to have in Utrecht.)

The road surface was in a horrible state. Torrential rains just wash away the surface, and has been doing so ever since it was put on. and with the road sloping down on both sides, creating a rounded shape, it is a dangerous one to travel for me. Any car, coming on to me or from behind, scares the life out of me, if I'm honest with you.
Moving to, and staying put on, the side of this narrow road, creates the risk of getting stuck into the gruond next to the road. With these same rains soaking the ground also, I could run aground easily and with nasty consequences. I had problems with taking this road already back when we were living at the end of this back road, from '87 till 2001. Despite the beautiful scenery and landscape of the hills, I would usually take the mainroad to the village.

Halfway, I remembered that I had promised myself not to go here any more, because of how dangerous the road had become, but wanting to see how the Lilies had grown, I went ahead.
At the church of Ireland, I paused on the bridge, next to our former cottage. I always need a little moment to have a look at the life down in the water, little moving shells, legs or fins, all hold my fascination.
the Rooks and Hooded rows were calling overhead, and along the river I noticed how they had cut down the giants, after these had died down last autumn. mind you, there were enough of them showing new life also. The leaves look very tempting to eat raw in a green salad, yet I'd advise anyone to keep themselves from picking these, as, like the rhubarb leaves, they are poisinous to us.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wild Spring Flowers

Although I have not been blogging lately, we are doing OK. busy, and with a horrible wind blowing about the house. plus the occasional?? rain showers.
It is a pity because I would love to get out onto the road with my wheels, onto the backroad and to the bay, to check the birds there and before reaching the bay, having a look at the Blackthorn buds, the Aran Lily plants (sorry, cannot find the post) which I photographed last autumn, its variegated leaves a mystery to me, until Roger B. helped me out. And I would like to see how the leaves have grown.
On Monday, I had my camera with me when going to the shop and on my way home I spotted these lovely Lesser Celandine. These are typical spring flowers and they are a good sign of spring as springflower in the wild.
Lesser Celandine:

And although I have not seen any Blackthorn buds yet, on this piece of the back road, because they all grow on the other side, but I did spot these buds of catkins perhaps?

In the garden it is mostly Chaffinches and Chaffinches. usually we see 6 females a day and 3-5 males, and battles are fought on a regular basis. One poor chappie has still a very light breast and he is being hunted by the wrong sex, because it is those with a nice ruddy breast which get the attentions.
Our pale Chaffinch pal:

One of the ruddy, redbreasted Chaffinch males:

He Loves me..., He Loves Me not....,

Some of the ladies:

Pied Wagtail,

Here's Looking At You!
A different view of and JJ,
two of our Blue Tits