Saturday, August 29, 2009

Burgers Zoo: Desert

Here's the second Burgers Zoo post, this time about the Desert.
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The Desert ecodisplay is designed to represent a part of the Sonora-desert is Arizona and Mexico. It's a desert very rich in animal and plant life, but you need a bit of luck and good timing to see it.
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We visitied the Desert early in the morning, at noon and in the afternoon and the morning was clearly the best time to see animals. At noon, almost all of them are hidden to escape the heat and in the afternoon we only saw that many birds because the sprinkler system was turned on and they were taking baths.

a pair of White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
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scared away by a group of children
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a juvenile Northern Cardinale (Cardinalis cardinalis), moulting into adult plumage and bathing in the wet leaves
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a female or juvenile cardinale
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a male Ultramarine Grosbeak (Cyanocompsa brissonii)
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a female Ultramarine Grosbeak
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a female Yellow Grosbeak (Pheucticus chrysopeplus)
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a Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura) - unusual for birds, they find their food (carrion) through their very keen sense of smell
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a Collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu)
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the Peccaries and the Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) each had their own enclosure, but most of the other animals were allowed to range freely (including the vultures)
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some nocturnal animals are displayed in a tunnel system that's located between the Desert and the Bush, for example the Kit fox (Vulpes macrotis)
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and the Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)
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the Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) also had its own enclosure, otherwise it would prey on the smaller birds and they are very adept hunters, good at sneaking up on other birds, hidden away in grass or undergrowth.
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and here are my favourite birds in the Desert, the Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata).
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they were always running around in pairs, the female following the male closely, resembling two windup-toys
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The Camera Critters meme has more critters, go and look at them!

Monday, August 24, 2009

MyWorld Tuesday: Sauerland

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Today I've dug up some photos from the archives, I took them last year in December when I was visiting my parents. They live in a town called Luedenscheid in the Sauerland, near the Rhine-Ruhr area. Sauerland means Southern Land, although the name translates literally to Sour Land. It has many lakes and water reservoirs, much of the drinking water for the Rhine-Ruhe area comes form those. The pictures were taken at the Versetalsperre (Talsperre means water reservoir).
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Here the dam is visible, seen from across the reservoir:
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Travel around the world at MyWorld Tuesday

Friday, August 21, 2009

Burgers Bush

This is the first of five posts about Burgers Zoo in Arnhem in the Netherlands. The zoo specializes in so-called eco displays, big halls that show one particular habitat with most of the animals moving freely within the hall. That menas that you need to take a lot of time to visit the zoo or you will be dissapointed. A pair of binoculars may also help because the animals may be high up in the trees or sitting far away. But if you bring enough time and patience, it's one of the most rewarding zoos I know. We spend two days - one day is just not enough to see all of it without hurrying and we plan to return and spend even more time.

Today I'll show you Burgers Bush, the rainforest hall. You can explore it on paved pathways, but you can also use small paths leading through the undergrowth or cross water on stepping stones or use a shaky bridge. The Bush contains animals and plants from African, Asian and American rainforests.

a Snowy-crowned Robin-chat (Cossypha niveicapilla)- we called them the Who cares-birds because they didn't seem to care about being photographed or looked at no matter how close people came. The one in the photo was singing beautifully and didn't stop when we walked by, stopped and hunkered down in front of it.
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some species of weaver birds - they were very vocal and imitaed the calls of other birds, for example the call of the Screaming Pi-ha (you've probably heard that bird in countless nature documentaries, here's a video ).
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the African Darter (Anhinga rufa ) is also known as Snakebird - it's neck is very long and handy for catching fish. It's related to cormorans.
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an Asian Fairy Bluebird, Irena puella
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another weaver bird, this one's a male. The female is much less colourful, a very unconspicuous brown-grey
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Crested Wood Partridge, Rollulus rouloul - they always make me laugh because it looks as though someone has chopped of the tail and then glued it to the bird's head again or thrown in away in case of the female
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many birds were busy building nests
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two dove species, the second is a Nicobar Pigeon, Caloenas nicobarica
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the waterfall is important for keeping up the humidity (it rains of course in Burgers Bush, every night 120 metres, that's about 2 meters of rainfall every year)
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a kind of twiner, the flowers were as big as dinnerplates and smelled strongly of rotting meat, drawing lots of flies
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there are a few thousand (!) anoles in Burgers Bush, we saw only very few and they were the only one of several reptile species that live there we saw
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a Rodrigues Fruit Bat (Pteropus rodricensis) - they have a wingspan of 3 fet and live only on the island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean
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even they felt a bit hot at noon
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aardvarks - we came back a few times, but they were always sleeping
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The zoo also has several manatis, but try taking a decent picture of them. The best I got were two nostrils blowing bubbles. Still, great to see them, they are among my favourite animals.
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and of course there were house sparrows enjoying the free food
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Camera Critters: Fishy!

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a Prickly Leatherjacket - what an awesome name *g* It's scientific name is Chaetodermis penicilligerus and in Danish it's called Frynsefilfisk (I just found that word too cute not to post).

in front of some corals and stones it's incredibly well camouflaged
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You know those fish that clean the glass from algae in fishtanks? That's one of them and his head is about as big as a man's fist.

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a shoal of Glass catfish (Kryptopterus minor)

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A young male ribbon eel (Rhinomuraena quaesita), a moray eel species. Mature males turn a vivid blue and when they reach a length of sligtly less than 3 ft., they turn greenish-yellow and become females. The young males were thought to be a separate species for a long time.

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Australian spotted jellyfish, Phyllorhiza punctata - jellyfish are very hard to keep and breed, among other things they are so fragile that they get torn apart by the currents made by a filter in a normal tank, when they get caught in the corners. The zoo uses a round tank with currents that carry the jellyfish in a circle, never touching the sides of the tank.

all photos taken at the Tropen-Aquarium of Hagenbecks Tierpark, published with kind permission.
See more critter photos at the Camera Critters meme