Tag Archives: Wildlife

Nibbling on a branch

Mike Powell

Would you stop to watch a squirrel as it nibbled on a branch or would you move on in search of more exciting wildlife? I love trying to capture the beauty in the ordinary and spent quite some time recently observing and photographing this Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) at Huntley Meadows Park.

Although the tree looks kind of dead, I think that the squirrel spotted a fresh bud on the end of the branch and decided to chew on it for a little while. Normally a squirrel has its head down when feeding and it was nice to be able to get this shot with its neck extended. The little reflection in its eye was a bonus.

Eastern Gray Squirrel

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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An early Autumn walk in Richmond Park

It is a long time ago that we were one of millions of Londoners and tourists visiting Richmond Park, the largest of the capital’s eight Royal Parks and the biggest enclosed space in London.

It is great that a country recognises the importance of nature and does also work on it to give the human beings an impression of its value.

Lovely that we can find some shared witnessing of the beautiful National Nature Reserve, London’s largest Site of Special Scientific Interest and a European Special Area of Conservation.

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  • Kingston Hill > lots of sitings of deer <= currently rutting season => pushes stags without their own herds much closer to the park boundaries than they would normally go.
  • Isabella Plantation = small sectioned off area of the park where the planting is more formal

Nice to see that they’ve been working on Isabella Plantation, making it more accessible for wheelchair users => looked quite nice +  waterless toilet block

  • A Beagle Pack Date In Dog Friendly Richmond Park (wagthedoguk.com)
    There’s nothing better than going for a nice long walk with a pack of wagging beagles! We love being part of a pack, and in fact it’s our nature, we were bred to hunt in a group. So when I found out  I was going to be meeting with Eli’z from France, Porthos and Lucy hailing from the U.K. I just couldn’t wait.

    One big beautiful dog friendly park and four beagles ready to sniff, wag and explore, what could be better! This was my first time at Richmond Park and I would highly recommend it to any dog wanting to go for an amazing stroll right in London.

  • The rutting stags of Richmond (notesfromcamelidcountry.net)
    A few weeks back, I found myself in Richmond Park, one of London’s most beautiful parks, and a ‘green lung’ in West London – you need a lot of trees to absorb the CO2 all the planes dump on London as they land at Heathrow. The park is huge by London standards, covering an area of approximately 2500 acres, making it the second largest green space in the city. It’s a glorious place with a long history, and royal links going back to Edward I’s reign (1272 – 1307). It took its current shape in 1637 under the unfortunate Charles I, who twelve years later would lose his head to the English Revolution.
  • Stags in bitter death battle to be crowned alpha male (express.co.uk)

    Photographer Mark Smith, 35, was just metres away when this battle started and managed to capture it – demonstrating how brutal stags can be.

    He was in Bushy Park, London, photographing wildlife for the day and noticed that tensions were growing high between stags.

    Testosterone was rife in the royal park as it is mating season for deers – which means stags must prove to females they’re the alpha male.

  • Rutting season in all its glory: Battling stags scrap for supremacy in autumnal Richmond Park (dailymail.co.uk)
    October and early November are traditionally the months when stags lock antlers to compete for mating rights with the females – an act that has been captured in these stunning photographs, taken at the largest of London’s Royal Parks.

    Arriving at dawn, Mr Bridger caught some of the action on camera – watching a pair of fallow deer fight for over an hour.

    In the background a herd of females can be seen watching the fight like a ringside boxing crowd to see which male will come out on top.

  • Isabella Plantation (lacer.wordpress.com)
    We managed to drag ourselves out of the flat this afternoon to go and walk up to Isabella Plantation, which is a smallish, enclosed area in Richmond Park. Whereas most of the rest of Richmond Park is quite wild, Isabella Plantation is more managed and there are beautiful flowering bushes, prehistoric looking ferns, cooling ponds and cute little streams with tiny bridges or stepping logs over them, there.
  • Waterless toilet to set bog standard at Latitude festival (theguardian.com)
    Given the nature of her quest, it is just as well that Virginia Gardiner has never been too self-conscious about bodily functions and their taboos.

    In her mission to create a waterless loo that uses no energy and turns the waste into a useable product, Gardiner has exhibited a bowl moulded from horse manure and monitored the activity of composting worms in her bathroom, turning “poop” into fertile soil, she said.

    Now, seven years after she embarked on her plan to revolutionise the “most un-innovative part of anybody’s house”, her Loowatt waterless toilet will be shown off to festival goers at Latitude in Suffolk this month

  • Frank Rijsberman: Why We Need to Reinvent the Toilet (gatesfoundation.org)
    We have estimated that, through 2009, 54% of our funding went to water and the remaining 46% to sanitation and hygiene. Over the past two years, 90% of our funding has been invested in sanitation and the remaining 10% in water and hygiene.

    That ratio is likely to remain the same in years to come. Clearly, it does not imply that we think water is no longer important. We will continue to invest significant resources in water. But because so many of you are already working on water, we want to help sanitation catch up. If we are investing in sanitation in a location where people don’t have access to safe water, we will not rule out supporting water-related activities as part of the project – or through collaboration with other partners that focus on water, such as the Hilton Foundation.
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    in the more than two centuries since Alexander Cummings patented the S-bend – the revolutionary water seal that allowed the outhouse to be upgraded to an indoor water closet – we have learned a few things in science and engineering that can inspire smart inventors among us to come up with the “cellphone of sanitation.” Not a toilet that is only good enough for poor people, but an aspirational product that leapfrogs flush toilets. A product that all of us would want to use.

    Frankly, how much sense does it make to clean water to drinking-water standards and then use a good portion of that precious resource to flush waste down an expensive pipe system – a pipe system that even the richest nations can barely afford to rehabilitate? And how much sense does it make to transport our waste to treatment plants that consume so much energy that many operators in Africa have simply flipped off the power switch? Wouldn’t you rather have a toilet in your house that directly recovers the energy, nutrients, and water that we currently throw away? Wouldn’t you like a toilet that helps you recycle waste in the same way that we now recycle paper, glass, and plastic? I bet you would.

    So, yes, we think that the toilet should be reinvented.

  • ‘Hidden Treasures’; Open House programme; and the Isabella Plantation celebrates 60 years… (exploringlondon.wordpress.com)
    Among the London institutions taking part this year are the British Library, the British Postal Museum and Archive in Houghton, the Museum of the Order of St John in Clerkenwell (pictured) and Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham. Hidden Treasures is an initiative of the Collections Trust and the Independent newspaper. All events are free but some have to be pre-booked and have limited spaces so make sure you check out the details at www.hiddentreasures.org.uk/?page_id=118.
  • Isabella Plantation in full blooming glory. (londoninsight.wordpress.com)
    Following on from last year’s secret gardens series, ( West, Central & East, North and South regions of London) I have fulfilled a promise to myself by returning to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park (see ‘West‘ for the previous Isabella story), to see the flirtatious display of Azaleas and Rhododendrons at their blooming best.
  • Prized stag shot by poachers and left to die in agony (thetimes.co.uk)
    One of the most magnificent stags in the New Forest has been shot by poachers who left him to die in agony.

    The 16-year-old red deer, called The Monarch, was the largest in a herd of 40 on the Burley Estate and a favourite with visitors to the area. He was so well known that his photograph adorned souvenirs sold to tourists.

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Waiting in the mist

In certain places the ‘roar’ of one of the Low Countries largest land mammal can be heard again. The impressive figure of a stag complete with a full ‘rack’ of antlers conjures up images of the Scottish highlands where the species is most abundant, but the Veluwe may also be very proud to have large families on its grounds.

The noise of the stags, which are much more vocal during this time, indicate that we may face Autumn. For them the rutting season makes them gathering females for their harems, and will produce loud guttural roars and barks. Roaring, acting as a declaration of size and strength, a challenge to potential competition, or a way of reaffirming status after a victorious fight. Good that they are protected in certain parks, but in the other places it is just their noise which brings the hunters to them in this pairing-time. It is now the ideal mating-season, taking care the young will be brought onto the world in June when most food and the best conditions to grow up are available.
We can only hope people take care they are protected enough to come through Winter.

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Find also to read:

Autumn traditions for 2014 – 1: Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet

  • Emperor stag killed: red deer stag facts (telegraph.co.uk)
    Native stock is common in the Scottish Highlands, Dumfriesshire, Lake District, East Anglia and the south-west of England. Feral stock is present in the north of England, north Midlands, East Anglia, the New Forest and Sussex.
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    The males are typically 175 – 230cm long (tail adds 12 – 19cm), with a height 107-137cm at shoulder and weigh 60 – 190kgDeer are different from other ruminants in that the males have a set of antlers which are regrown every summer, rather than permanent horns on the head.

    Antlers have up to 16 points, which are made of bone, covered in ‘velvet’ and can grow 2.5cm a day

    European antlers are straighter, with the fourth and fifth tines forming a crown in larger males

    A stag that has antlers with no tines is known as a switch. A stag with no antlers is a hummel

    Antlers are testosterone driven and as the stag’s testosterone levels drop in the autumn, the velvet is shed and the antlers stop growing

    Peak mating age is eight years old and dominant stags may have a harem of 20 hinds

    During the rut, stags have a distinctive roar-like sound to keep the harem together.

    Females are often attracted to the stag with the loudest roar.

  • Watch: Rutting season in Lyme Park near Stockport (manchestereveningnews.co.uk)
    ‘Fights between stags can be a shoving match – with each stag trying to gain the advantage by being uphill’
    +“October is the most exciting time of year to watch deer as they engage in fierce mating battles.

    “Rutting activity is most intense soon after dawn, although some activity occurs throughout the day.

    “Female deer are only fertile for around a day during the year so competition to mate with them is fierce.

  • An early Autumn walk in Richmond Park (lacer.wordpress.com)
    My local council is conducting an experiment where they’re letting a number of small patches of land across the borough turn into little, very mini, wild meadows. I see the one nearest me when I go by on the bus, it was looking glorious all summer and then started to look distinctly ropey but in the past week it’s bloomed back into life again, I guess as the long grass starts to die back it allows the Autumn blooming specialists to take over.
  • Dog owners told to avoid Richmond Park and Bushy Park during rutting season (standard.co.uk)

    Dog owners are being told to avoid Richmond and Bushy Parks during the deer rutting season.

    In October and November the red stags and fallow bucks compete for females by roaring, barking and clashing antlers with each other.

    But the animals can also see dogs as a threat and have been known to charge at them, as well as their owners.

    Royal Parks experts said the presence of dogs may disrupt breeding patterns, impacting on the behaviour of the wild animals during the birthing season.

  • Sketch of the Day: Red Deer in Rut (drawingthemotmot.wordpress.com)
    Winds whipped through the Deer Park in Klampenborg today, blowing leaves off branches just when they’d gotten some autumn reds and golds.
  • Roar of the rutting stag: why men have deep voices (theguardian.com)
    From Richmond Park to the Isle of Rum, red deer hinds will be gathering, and the stags that have spent the past 10 months minding their own business in bachelor groups are back in town, with one thing on their minds. A mature male that has netted himself a harem is very dedicated. He practically stops eating, focusing instead on keeping his hinds near and his competitors at bay. If you’re a red deer stag, one of the ways you make sure that your adversaries know you mean business – and that you’re big – is roaring. And you don’t let up. You can keep roaring all day, and through the night too, twice a minute, if necessary.
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    The low voice of men, like stags, is a trait that probably evolved through sexual selection. This isn’t just about being attractive to the opposite sex, it’s also about beating same-sex rivals. A deep voice may prove an advantage in both cases, helping a man to exclude other, apparently less dominant men, from the mating game, as well as making him more attractive to the opposite sex. A win-win situation. Unless, of course, you’re a well-built man with a mellifluous tenor voice, who’s bucked the trend, or a woman who prefers Justin Timberlake or John Lennon to Jim Morrison or Eddie Vedder. This is biology, after all – variability is what makes it so interesting.
  • Country diary: Glen Strathfarrar: In a profound Highlands silence there came a guttural roar (guardian.co.uk)
    Along the river Farrar were the scattered juniper bushes, though perhaps trees would have been a better word. They were columnar rather than prostrate and were that dark green that looks almost forbidding as only these very old trees can. Other impressive trees were nearby, the small stand of aspen whose leaves were changing from their pale summer green to the yellows of autumn.In contrast, their silver bark was well marked with black diamond shapes that looked almost unreal. But there was something missing and it suddenly dawned on me – the aspen leaves were not trembling. The extremely flattened leaf stalks means that even in the slightest of breezes the leaves will shake. Well might the Latin name be Populus tremula.
  • Beautiful Photos of London’s Richmond Park on First Day of Autumn (ibtimes.co.uk)
    Rob Stothard captured these lovely photos of a misty Richmond Park in southwest London as the annual deer rut (breeding season) begins.The park is home to around 345 red deer and 315 fallow deer. The deer rut takes place in autumn. The red stags and fallow bucks compete for females (known as hinds and does respectively) with a clashing of antlers. The males also decorate their antlers with ferns and roar and bark in a bid to attract females.
  • Stag mating call mimic contest held (bbc.co.uk)

    A competition to find out who can best mimic the mating call of a stag has taken place on Exmoor.

    The event for the sport known as bolving started 10 years ago and organisers said competitors took it “very seriously”.

    The challenge for the participants imitating the low bellowing sound of the red deer is for a real stag to answer their call.

    This year 45 people took part in the event held near Dulverton, Somerset.

    Exmoor National Park ranger and former competition winner Richard Eales organised the 10th annual championship.

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Artwork promotes endangered species awareness

The “SAVES Club” is a student run organization, that was established at Valencia High School, Valencia CA in 2013. It’s purpose is to work in conjunction with local, regional, and world-wide non-profit organizations, as well as individuals and business leaders to aid in the rescue, conservation, and preservation of endangered wildlife species. The members of this organization strive to provide monetary and other resources to selected organizations to aid in their conservation efforts.

Their main focus for the 2013-2014 school year was to fundraise for and contribute volunteer hours to the Gibbon Conservation Center located approximately 4 miles from Valencia High School, in Santa Clarita, CA. For more information on the Center and their conservation efforts, you can visit them online at: http://www.gibboncenter.org.

They are also working on an action plan to locally to raise awareness of the plight of 3 endangered species that exist in their local valley: the unarmored threespine stickleback fish, the least bell’s vireo bird, and the arroyo toad.

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  • Lawsuit Fights to Save River, Wildlife from Sprawling Newhall Ranch Project (independent.com)
    A group of public-interest organizations sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in federal court today over the agencies’ approval of permits for the sprawling Newhall Ranch development. The development is one of the largest residential projects ever approved in California and would transform more than 2,000 acres along the Santa Clara River from rugged open space and agricultural land into a sprawling new suburban city.“These federal permits pave the way for the destruction of the Santa Clara River, one of the most endangered rivers in America, by bringing massive development within the river’s floodplain and along its tributaries,” said John Buse, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s unconscionable that the federal agencies charged with protecting the river have permitted the destruction of its floodplain and tributaries on a scale that would have been unthinkable in the 1950s, much less today.”
  • Newhall Ranch project faces new hurdles with environmentalists’ suit (latimes.com)
    The government permit authorizes the developer, Newhall Land and Farming Co., to fill in and alter more than 82 acres of flood plain and tributaries at the site 35 miles north of Los Angeles. The project would be built in phases over 20 to 30 years, ultimately covering 2,587 acres with 19,812 residential units and about 51/2 million square feet of commercial space.
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    “We’re opposed to this project because it would plunk a new city down in the last undeveloped river valley in Southern California,” said Ron Bottorff, a spokesman for Friends of the Santa Clara River. “That land should be set aside for wildlife that rely on it for survival.”Marlee Lauffer, spokeswoman for Newhall Land, had not yet reviewed the lawsuit. However, she said, “We spent over a decade working with Army Corps and other federal and state agencies analyzing and reviewing all of the environmental issues” of the project.

    The 12,000-acre area is home to threatened and endangered fauna and flora, including San Fernando Valley spineflowers, unarmored threespine sticklebacks, least Bell’s vireos, southwestern willow flycatchers, coastal California gnatcatchers, arroyo toads and California condors.

    Opponents also say they fear that storm water discharges containing pollutants such as dissolved copper would significantly harm migrating steelhead trout and their offspring in the river.

  • Lawsuit Fights to Save River, Wildlife From Sprawling Newhall Ranch Project – Center for Biological Diversity (press release) (biologicaldiversity.org)
    A group of public-interest organizations sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is in federal court today over the agencies’ approval of permits for the sprawling Newhall Ranch development. The development is one of the largest residential projects ever approved in California and would transform more than 2,000 acres along the Santa Clara River from rugged open space and agricultural land into a sprawling new suburban city.“These federal permits pave the way for the destruction of the Santa Clara River, one of the most endangered rivers in America, by bringing massive development within the river’s floodplain and along its tributaries,” said John Buse, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s unconscionable that the federal agencies charged with protecting the river have permitted the destruction of its floodplain and tributaries on a scale that would have been unthinkable in the 1950s, much less today.”
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    “The project’s discharges of pollutants into the Santa Clara will impart irreversible impacts to the wellbeing of watershed residents for years to come, and threatens the tremendous southern California steelhead recovery effort in the watershed,” said Jason Weiner, associate director and staff attorney at the Wishtoyo Foundation’s Ventura Coastkeeper Program.

    “The impacts to hundreds upon hundreds of our burial sites and natural cultural resources, such as river rock, willow, and the California condor, that are such a vital components of our culture and religious practices, will be devastating and irreversible,” said Mati Waiya, a Chumash ceremonial elder and executive director of the Wishtoyo Foundation.

    “Rather than ensuring that the last free-flowing river in the county is preserved, the agencies have approved development directly in the Santa Clara River’s fragile floodplain,” said Lynne Plambeck, president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment. “Such a massive development in sensitive habitat and prime farmland is out of step with contemporary urban planning. It is time to implement new planning concepts that protect, not destroy, wildlife habitat, water resources and our local agriculture.”

 

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