Archive for 2011
With grateful thanks to Cynthia G. for forwarding this to me.
On the morning of May 18, 2011 , my wife noticed a deer in our yard that appeared to be frantically looking for something in the rocks that form a wall on our property line in Brush Prairie, WA.
When we first went out with our neighbors, we didn’t see anything, but the deer wouldn’t leave our yard. We went back to our house and watched; after a few minutes the deer came back. We went out to the area the deer was concentrating on and could hear a baby fawn crying in the rocks.
We moved some of the rocks and smaller boulders and saw a baby fawn’s face in the rocks. He had apparently fallen in one of the gaps and was now trapped. The larger boulders were too heavy to move, and we didn’t want the rocks to cave in on the baby deer.
We called our Clark County Fire District 3. The B Shift team came out; they were able to move the larger rocks out of the way with the Jaws of Life enough to be able to reach in a pull the baby fawn out and reunite it with its momma.
The fawn, maybe stuck in there most of the night, quickly went to nurse its momma. One of our neighbors took some video clips of the fire department’s rescue. I edited the clips into this short clip. After sharing it with some friends they thought that it was just too cute not to share with more people; my neighbor agreed to let me upload it.
With enormous thanks to Neil K. in Devon for forwarding these,
The Importance of walking
Walking can add minutes to your life.
This enables you at 85 years old
to spend an additional 5 months in a nursing
home at $4,000 per month.
My grandpa started walking
five miles a day when he was 60.
Now he’s 97 years old
and we have no idea where the hell he is.
The only reason I would take up walking
is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.
We all get heavier as we get older,
because there’s a lot more information in our heads.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
A fascinating and beautiful insight into wild turkeys!
Yesterday, I published a couple of stories that demonstrated that close, loving bonds can form between different species, including an orang-utan and a dog, and a duck and a man.
By chance, Jean and I came across another example of cross-species bonding. This time between Joe Hutto, an American living in Florida, and a brood (is that the right description?) of newly-born wild turkeys. The first thing these tiny birds saw when they opened their eyes after breaking clear of their egg was Joe, and they immediately imprinted him as their ‘mother’.
Joe spent a complete year and more being ‘mother’ to these birds right up to the point where they naturally flew the nest, so to speak. Joe’s experiences led to a book, Illumination in the Flatwoods, and from that to a BBC Natural World special My Life as a Turkey, regrettably not available to viewers outside the UK.
But speaking to someone who did watch the BBC film, it was clear that it was a most beautiful and touching account of how young wild turkeys can bond to a human. Here’s part of the programme review in the British Guardian newspaper,
By Sam Wollaston, Guardian.co.uk
Joe Hutto’s life changed when a local farmer in the Florida flatlands where he lives left a stainless steel dog bowl full of wild turkey eggs on the porch of his cabin. Joe put them in an incubator, and waited. Some weeks later, cracks began to appear. This is the crucial time: “imprinting” only occurs in the first few moments after hatching. So Joe put his face down to the level of the opening eggs and the first poult emerged, wet and confused. Joe made a chirping, clucky noise, the poult looked him square in the eye, “and something very unambiguous happened in that moment”.
The little turkey stumbled and crawled across to Joe, and huddled up against his face. It recognised Joe as its mother. In the next few hours, Joe became mother to 15 more baby turkeys and remained so for the next 18 months. My Life as a Turkey: Natural World Special (BBC2) tells that story.
Across to the programme details from the BBC2 website (may not be available 26 days after the date of this article),
Biologist Joe Hutto was mother to the strangest family in the world, thirteen endangered wild turkeys that he raised from egg to the day they left home.
For a whole year his turkey children were his only companions as he walked them deep through the Florida Everglades. Suffering all the heartache and joy of any other parent as he tried to bring up his new family, he even learnt to speak their language and began to see the world through turkey eyes. Told as a drama documentary with an actor recreating the remarkable scenes of Joe’s life as a turkey mum.
Sam Wollaston of the Guardian continues,
It’s not hard to see how the little birds were taken in. Joe’s moustache does look a bit like feathers, he has a long scraggy neck, an understanding of the forest, and a tentative, birdlike walk. He takes them out, to catch their first grasshoppers; he teaches them how to roost. For Joe, as for any mother, parenthood is an emotional rollercoaster ride. There is the joy of seeing his babies grow, but almost constant worry. Grief too, when one is taken by a rat snake, and another by a hawk, and two more get sick (bird flu?) and die.
Adolescence arrives with all its associated problems. The males start fighting; only the toughest will get to mate. “I had no way of knowing how I was going to be part of this rite of passage,” says Joe. Steady now, Joe, let’s not take this too far, you’re not supposed to mate with any of them. For one, they’re your children. They’re also turkeys. That would be doubly wrong. Sometimes I think Joe spends too much time alone in the forest.
Quite so! However, the film was so beautifully shot that it was very, very easy to forget that this was a re-enactment of Joe’s original experience. That love is all about how you make someone, or in these cases, some other creature, feel. Another couple of pictures from the BBC website,
One final extract from the Sam Wollaston article in The Guardian newspaper,
My Life as a Turkey isn’t simply a wildlife film though. It’s not just about wild animals, it’s about one man’s relationship with wild animals, and that’s what makes it so fabulous. Serious animal behaviourists may not agree, but if you throw a human being in there, it all suddenly becomes a lot more interesting. I’m thinking Ring of Bright Water, Gorillas in the Mist, I’m definitely thinking Werner Herzog’s brilliant Grizzly Man about a man named Tim whose friendship with bears went wrong and he ended up inside one. My Life as a Turkey has something of Grizzly Man about it – a man obsessed, alone in a beautiful place, living with wild animals. But, although Joe was attacked, he didn’t end up inside one of his turkeys thankfully. There would have been a certain irony to that, especially if it had happened at Thanksgiving.
Anyway, it’s a lovely film – beautiful, charming, funny, sad, thought-provoking even. What thoughts did it provoke in me? That I need to go and see my mum.
Unfortunately, as mentioned above if you are outside the UK you are not able to watch the film via the BBC iPlayer system. But you can buy the book.
Available from Amazon, here’s just one of the reviews,
My review is not unbiased because Joe Hutto, author of “Illumination in the Flatwoods,” and I have been friends for almost 25 years.
Joe is the most humble man I’ve ever known. I am honored that he brought me the original manuscript to read. It was so beautiful I could have cried.
With the same graceful writing skills used by conservationists Aldo Leopold (“Sand County Almanac”) and Herbert Stoddard (“Memoirs of a Naturalist”), Joe gives a masterful mix of documentary-style nature reporting and heartfelt thoughts on the meaning of life. As dramatic as that sounds, I think most readers will agree that “Illumination in the Flatwoods” is a life-changing book.
You will never regret the dollars you spend to buy this book nor the time it takes you to read it. . .
Kathy McCord Cooley
“Love is just love, it can never be explained.”
A chance email from Dan G. opens up a whole treasure trove.
Here’s what Dan sent to me,
After losing his parents, this 3 year old orangutan was so depressed he wouldn’t eat and didn’t respond to any medical treatments. The veterinarians thought he would surely die from sadness. The zoo keepers found an old sick dog on the grounds in the park at the zoo where the orangutan lived and took the dog to the animal treatment center. The dog arrived at the same time the orangutan was there being treated. The 2 lost souls met and have been inseparable ever since.
The orangutan found a new reason to live and each always tries his best to be a good companion to his new found friend. They are together 24 hours a day in all their activities.
They live in Northern California where swimming is their favorite past time, although Roscoe (the orangutan) is a little afraid of the water and needs his friend’s help to swim.
Together they have discovered the joy and laughter in life and the value of friendship.
They have found more than a friendly shoulder to lean on.
Long Live Friendship!!!!!!!
I don’t know……some say life is too short, others say it is too long, but I know that nothing that we do makes sense if we don’t touch the hearts of others…….while it lasts!
So after I had seen the pictures above, it was pretty easy to find this YouTube video.
Then if that wasn’t amazing and wonderful, try this,
Well that’s enough for today. But tomorrow, I will continue with Part Two which recounts the amazing year that Joe Hutto spent in the Florida wildlands with ….. (you’ll have to wait for tomorrow!)
One thousand, nine hundred and thirty-two years ago, today, there was a loud bang in Italy!
On the 24th August, in the year 79 A.D. the residents of Pompeii would undoubtedly had very little time to ponder on the consequences of a volcanic eruption just five miles away.
Indeed, as the website Classroom of the Future explains,
Try to imagine huge, billowing, gray-black clouds like those at Mount St. Helens rushing toward you at a hundred miles an hour. That is probably what the ancient Romans saw just before they were entombed by hot ash.
There is much material available for those that wish to read more about the devastating effects of that volcanic eruption, so superfluous to add much more here. The Classroom of the Future link is as good a place to start as any. What I would like to comment on is this – but first a picture,
Mount Vesuvius (Italian: Monte Vesuvio, Latin: Mons Vesuvius) is a stratovolcano on the Bay of Naples, Italy, about 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) east ofNaples and a short distance from the shore. It is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years, although it is not currently erupting.
Here’s another reference,
There is a saying in Italy that goes ‘vedi Napoli e poi muori’. Translated, this means ‘see Naples and die’. The actual meaning of this refers to being overwhelmed by what a beautiful and an incredible city Naples is. (although some may argue that what it really means that Naples is such a dangerous and chaotic city that it will kill you!)
H’mmm. Get the timing wrong and that saying could have a literal meaning way beyond the ancient author’s intent! I quote from the website Geology.com,
Starting in 1631, Vesuvius entered a period of steady volcanic activity, including lava flows and eruptions of ash and mud. Violent eruptions in the late 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s created more fissures, lava flows, and ash-and-gas explosions. These damaged or destroyed many towns around the volcano, and sometimes killed people; the eruption of 1906 had more than 100 casualties. The most recent eruption was in 1944 during World War II. It caused major problems for the newly-arrived Allied forces in Italy when ash and rocks from the eruption destroyed planes and forced evacuations at a nearby airbase.
But for all it’s power, the Vesuvius eruption of the 24th August, 79 was a squib compared to the Toba eruption some 73,000 years ago. More on that one in a few days perhaps.
Big shift of topic from yesterday!
Yesterday, I wrote about the fabulous success of the British otter having gone from the crumbling edge of extinction to now being found in every English county.
Aliens may destroy humanity to protect other civilisations, say scientists
Rising greenhouse emissions could tip off aliens that we are a rapidly expanding threat, warns a report
It may not rank as the most compelling reason to curb greenhouse gases, but reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim.
Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth’s atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain.
This highly speculative scenario is one of several described by a Nasa-affiliated scientist and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University that, while considered unlikely, they say could play out were humans and alien life to make contact at some point in the future.
Shawn Domagal-Goldman of Nasa’s Planetary Science Division and his colleagues compiled a list of plausible outcomes that could unfold in the aftermath of a close encounter, to help humanity “prepare for actual contact”.
In their report, Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis, the researchers divide alien contacts into three broad categories: beneficial, neutral or harmful.
Beneficial encounters ranged from the mere detection of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), for example through the interception of alien broadcasts, to contact with cooperative organisms that help us advance our knowledge and solve global problems such as hunger, poverty and disease.
Another beneficial outcome the authors entertain sees humanity triumph over a more powerful alien aggressor, or even being saved by a second group of ETs. “In these scenarios, humanity benefits not only from the major moral victory of having defeated a daunting rival, but also from the opportunity to reverse-engineer ETI technology,” the authors write.
Other kinds of close encounter may be less rewarding and leave much of human society feeling indifferent towards alien life. The extraterrestrials may be too different from us to communicate with usefully. They might invite humanity to join the “Galactic Club” only for the entry requirements to be too bureaucratic and tedious for humans to bother with. They could even become a nuisance, like the stranded, prawn-like creatures that are kept in a refugee camp in the 2009 South African movie, District 9, the report explains.
The most unappealing outcomes would arise if extraterrestrials caused harm to humanity, even if by accident. While aliens may arrive to eat, enslave or attack us, the report adds that people might also suffer from being physically crushed or by contracting diseases carried by the visitors. In especially unfortunate incidents, humanity could be wiped out when a more advanced civilisation accidentally unleashes an unfriendly artificial intelligence, or performs a catastrophic physics experiment that renders a portion of the galaxy uninhabitable.
To bolster humanity’s chances of survival, the researchers call for caution in sending signals into space, and in particular warn against broadcasting information about our biological make-up, which could be used to manufacture weapons that target humans. Instead, any contact with ETs should be limited to mathematical discourse “until we have a better idea of the type of ETI we are dealing with.”
The authors warn that extraterrestrials may be wary of civilisations that expand very rapidly, as these may be prone to destroy other life as they grow, just as humans have pushed species to extinction on Earth. In the most extreme scenario, aliens might choose to destroy humanity to protect other civilisations.
“A preemptive strike would be particularly likely in the early phases of our expansion because a civilisation may become increasingly difficult to destroy as it continues to expand. Humanity may just now be entering the period in which its rapid civilisational expansion could be detected by an ETI because our expansion is changing the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, via greenhouse gas emissions,” the report states.
“Green” aliens might object to the environmental damage humans have caused on Earth and wipe us out to save the planet. “These scenarios give us reason to limit our growth and reduce our impact on global ecosystems. It would be particularly important for us to limit our emissions of greenhouse gases, since atmospheric composition can be observed from other planets,” the authors write.
Even if we never make contact with extraterrestrials, the report argues that considering the potential scenarios may help to plot the future path of human civilisation, avoid collapse and achieve long-term survival.
I am bound to say that if Mr Domagal-Goldman and his colleagues believe that spending time and money on the possible outcomes of contact with extraterrestrials is a good idea in these present times then I am minded about those other visitors from outer space who passed Planet Earth by because there were no signs of intelligent life!
Here’s Alex Jones on the topic …
A wonderful ‘good news’ story.
Just a few days ago, the British news media carried a wonderful story about the resurgence of the otter in every county of England. For many years, the otter was losing the battle for survival owing to hunting and trapping and the far South-West of England became it’s last refuge.
Then a combination of sensible legislation and public commitment to saving the otter became the turning point.
Watch this clip from ITN News from the 18th August.
Here’s a typical media report from The Independent newspaper of Thursday, 18th August,
Otters return to every county in England
Once the rivers were cleaned up, fish returned to once-polluted waters and otters began to spread back eastwards from their strongholds in Devon and Wales
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
It has taken 30 years, but the otter’s comeback is now complete. After becoming extinct across most of England in the Fifties and Sixties, one of Britain’s best-loved animals has now returned to every English county, the Environment Agency announced yesterday.
The slow but steady recolonisation of its former haunts has been rounded off with the reappearance of otters in Kent, the last county to have been without them, the agency said.
The otter’s return represents a happy ending to one of the worst episodes in modern British wildlife history: the sudden disappearance of one of our most widespread and charismatic mammals.
The process began around 1956 and was almost certainly caused by the introduction of powerful organochlorine pesticides such as aldrin and dieldrin. Residues of these chemicals were washed into the rivers where otters lived, poisoning them.
As wild otters are hard to spot – their presence is usually detected by their spraints, or droppings – it was several years before the scale of their disappearance began to dawn on people, but by then they had been wiped out over vast areas of lowland England.
Despite the banning of organochlorine pesticides in the mid-Sixties, otters continued to decline, and their population reached a low point by the end of the 1970s, when they had effectively vanished from everywhere except the West Country and parts of Northern England (although good numbers remained in Wales and Scotland).
The first national otter survey, carried out between 1977 and 1979, detected the presence of otters in just over 5 per cent of the 2,940 sites surveyed; all the sites were known to have held the animals previously.
But then a comeback gradually began. Helped by a substantial clean-up of England’s rivers, which brought back fish to many once-polluted watercourses, and by legal protection, otters began to spread back eastwards into England from their strongholds in Devon and in areas of the Welsh borders, such as the Wye Valley.
By the time of the fourth otter survey, carried out between 2000 and 2002, more than 36 per cent of the sites examined showed otter traces; and when the fifth survey was carried out, between 2009 and 2010, the figure had risen to nearly 60 per cent, with otters back in every English county except Kent. Now wildlife experts at the Environment Agency have confirmed that there are at least two otters in Kent, which have built their holts on the River Medway and the River Eden.
“The recovery of otters from near-extinction shows how far we’ve come in controlling pollution and improving water quality,” said Alastair Driver, the Environment Agency’s National Conservation Manager. “Rivers in England are the healthiest for over 20 years, and otters, salmon and other wildlife are returning to many rivers for the first time since the industrial revolution.
“The fact that otters are now returning to Kent is the final piece in the jigsaw for otter recovery in England and is a symbol of great success for everybody involved in otter conservation.”
Otters are at the top of the food chain, and are therefore an important indicator of river health. The clean-up means that they are now inhabiting once-polluted rivers running through cities – something which would have been unthinkable before the population crash – and they have been detected in places such as Stoke-on-Trent, Reading, Exeter and Leeds, as well as in more likely urban centres, such as Winchester.
But although they are now widespread once more, otters’ nocturnal habits and riverine habitat make them difficult to glimpse, let alone observe, in England. The best place to see otters in Britain is Western Scotland, where the animals have become semi-marine and live along the coast. They can regularly be seen foraging along the shoreline in the daytime, especially on some of the larger islands, such as Mull and Skye.