Nature Rambles

Baja California

A land of sea, sky and sand. Harsh deserts filled with tenacious botanical oddities emerge from a nutrient-rich sea pulsing […]

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An odd fact about chimpanzees

An odd fact about chimpanzees

A bit odd that we named the chimpanzee “troglodytes” meaning “cave-goer” and called ourselves sapiens meaning wise when the one almost never goes in caves and the other could scarcely be considered wise. Perhaps Linnaeus would switch things around if he could see it now? (taken in Kibale national park in Uganda…the success of this park and survival of these our closest non human relatives hinged on the collaborative effort of local people, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the wise actions of a number of true Homo sapiens)

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December 9, 2016 (12:18 pm)

December 9, 2016 (12:18 pm)

Photo Caption: December 9, 2016 (12:18 pm) View in Instagram ⇒

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Bit of Sacramento. A stilt in (non-) Flying V formation with Gadwalls. Let’s be thankful that these feathered mixrodinosaurs transcended gravity, escaped extinction and took flight. “Hope is a thing with feathers”

Bit of Sacramento. A stilt in (non-) Flying V formation with Gadwalls. Let’s be thankful that these feathered mixrodinosaurs transcended gravity, escaped extinction and took flight. “Hope is a thing with feathers”

Bit of #Thanksgiving #Birding Sacramento #nationalwildliferefuge. A stilt in (non-) Flying V formation with Gadwalls. Let’s be thankful that these feathered mixrodinosaurs transcended gravity, escaped extinction and took flight. “Hope is a thing with feathers”

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As if humpbacks were not astounding enough…

As if humpbacks were not astounding enough…

As if humpbacks were not astounding enough, a small subset have learned to break their solitary habits and form cooperative bubble net feeding groups with distinct specialities. The screamer calls the cadence and petrified the herring with a high pitch squeal that causes them to ball up. Then fin flappers flash the white underside of their pectorals to add a bewildering stimulus while a bubble blower ascends from below creating a rising spiral of expanding effervescent gas that forms a net to contract the fearful fish. Then altogether these unrelated whales rise and engulf in their huge maws the school of fish taking up to 16,000gallons in a single gulp and straining the contents back across their baleen. Not only does this suggest these animals have culture but also that they are tool users not so unlike ourselves!

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Straight from the reels of Jumanji…

Straight from the reels of Jumanji…

Straight from the reels of Jumanji (but shrunk considerably, thank heavens) this carnivorous Sun Dew makes up for the fact that it can’t get nutrients from the acid rich peat bog by trapping and eating insects! Peat bogs locally called “Muskeg” make up some 10% of Southeast Alaska and form in a process called “paludification” when sphagnum moss colonize the dense forests. Sphagnum acidifies the soil and attracts more water which leaches out the minerals till they sink below and form a hard pan that traps more water, collects more acid, which grows more sphagnum until a bog with its hardy bog plants replace the forests. Bizarrely this often happens even on slopes. Only the churning of soil by trees falling seems to be able to stop it!

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The moss laden forests of Southeast Alaska

The moss laden forests of Southeast Alaska

The moss laden forests of Southeast Alaska represent part of the largest extent of temperate rainforest on the planet stretching all the way to Northern California and holding some of the highest biomass forest anywhere.

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