Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nature Notes: Arches National Park

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Arches National Park has over 2000 natural arches (this one is the Double O Arch) and many more impressive sandstone formations. It's a beautiful place and you get to camp right in the middle of all that gorgeous nature. We stayed at the Devil's Garden campground where two trailheads end, so we could do a lot of exploring without driving anywhere first.

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This is Balanced Rock. Note the tiny humans climbing around on it - illegally, I might add...climbing on any of the named structure of the park is forbidden, for good reason. You can climb everywhere else and it's fun, but take care not to overestimate your skill. Also, the rock is extremely slippery when wet.

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Another arch - again, with tiny humans to show the real size of those formations.

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This is part of the trail leading through Devil's Garden. You walk right on top of that ridge and the photo doesn't show just how high it is and how steep the drop to both sides is. But I loved every minute of that hike.

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Landscape Arch. It's over 88 metres/290ft long and that makes it the longest natural arch in the world. A trail used to pass under it, but in the 90s, several slabs fell from it. The 1991 collapse was caught on video, you can see it here (2:20 onwards).

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It was brutally hot during our stay, I've never drunken so much water in my life. There was some rain, but it never reached us, we just got this beautiful partial rainbow.

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Here's the view from the campground at sundown. Is it me or does the rock on the right look like a grumpy guy contemplating the sunset with a hand held to his chin?

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And following that, a gorgeous moon.

Nature Notes is hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods

ABC Wednesday:C is for Cameleopard

What's a cameleopard? This is:

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Their scientific name is Giraffa camelopardalis. Giraffe come from the Arabic zafara, fast walker. They are called Kameelperd, camel horse in Africaans.

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Here's a baby.

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And one sharing a meal with a Kudu

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The baby a year later, bowing down to drink.

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Another baby, trying out its long legs. I think that no other animal looks quite that elegant in full gallop. Their movements are deceivingly slow, but giraffes can run at a speed of 50km/h and keep that up for long distances.

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These two are fighting, it's called necking and they both try to hit their opponent with their head. It looks slow, but such a blow is very powerful, although they rarely hurt each other at all. It's just a test of strength.

See what else C stands for with ABC Wednesday

Photos were taken at Hannover Zoo, Hagenbecks Tierpark Hamburg and Wilhelma Stuttgart,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rather B Birdin: Black-Spotted Barbet

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A Black-Spotted Barbet (Capito niger). There are several subspecies that may look radically different, one has a much darker, almost black plumage for example. The species lives in much of South Africa, its habitat are forest and woodlands. They are usually found alone or in pairs, bigger groups can be seen on trees that are bearing a rich crop of fruit, though. Apart from fruit, they supplement their diet with insects and nectar.

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There are barbets all over the world. They are related to woodpeckers and toucans. The big, sturdy beak is something all barbets have in common (as far as I know).

More birds at I'd Rather b Birdin. Photos were taken at Wilhelma, Stuttgart.

Sources:
American Barbets
Wikipedia, German and English
Internet Bird Collection

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nature Notes: Capitol Reef Animals

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a paper wasp, Mischocyttarus spec.

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a rock wren (Salpinctes obsoletus)

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a robber fly - note the pads on its feet for grabbing its prey (other insects) - on the wing, often

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I have no idea what this is. I thought some kind of fly at first, because of the mouthparts and the huge eyes, but it has wingcasings, so it's probably some kind of beetle

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a Dark-Veined Spring White (Pontia sisymbri nigravenosa)- I think

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a female Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus), it had been foraging on the ground in the orchard

Nature Notes is hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods

sources:
Wild Utah butterfly photos
Capitol Reef National Park

ABC Wednesday: A is for acanthous

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Acanthous means spinous, having spines or spikes. And it's hard to have more of them than the Crested Pocupine (Hystrix cristata), an animal native to Italy and Northern Africa. It's a myth that they can shoot their spines, though. The spines are hollow and will break off easily in an attacker's flesh and they will cause wounds that become infected just as easily.

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They are rodents and quite big animals, not all that smaller than the biggest rodent, the capybara. Only very few predators will risk an attack on a porcupine.

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This is a Common or North American Pocupine (Erethizon dorsatum), with the exception of the beaver the biggest rodent in North America. Unlike the crested pocupine, they are fairly good climbers and spend much of their time in trees.

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Porcupine come from the old French word porcespin, spiny pig. When they are born, all porcupines habe soft spines that will harden in the first few days after birth, just like those of hedgehogs. If a porcupine hurts itself with its spines, for example by falling out of a tree, the quills are covered with a substance that has antibiotic qualities to prevent infections.

See what else A stands for with ABC Wednesday

Sources:
Wikipedia North American Porcupine
antibiotic quills
African Porcupine

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rather B Birdin: Sunbittern

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A Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias), a bird that resembles a bittern, but isn't one. It's closest relative is the Kagu, with whom it shares the order of the Eurypygiformes.

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Sunbitterns are native to much of the north of South Africa where they forage for insects in forests, preferring wetlands and the banks of rivers. When threatened, they display their strikingly coloured wings - huge eyespots serve to intimidate predators.

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And here is another tropical bird I cannot identify. Maybe one of you knows what species it is?

Edit: yep. Anni said Tanager and it's a Brazilian Tanager, I think.

More birds at I'd Rather B Birdin. Photos were taken at Tiergarten Berlin.

Sources:
Wikipedia
Internet Bird Collection

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Nature Notes: Capitol Reef

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Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. The great thing about Capitol Reef is that if you get tired of the amazing sandstone formations, you can go and have a picnic under green trees. Or pick some fruit at the orchards of Fruita. Or take a walk along the river.

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At the top of this hike is Cohan Canyon.

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Cohab Canyon - one of the most quiet places I have ever been.

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Sunrise. Cohab Canyon is hidden behind those steep rocks. I can't find the entrance to the canyon in the photo, but it's not all that obvious even when you're right in front of it.

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Nature Notes is hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods

ABC Wednesday: Z is for Zoolite

A zoolite is the fossil of an animal. Here's one of the most famous zoolites:

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Archaeopteryx at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin - it's still very dinosaur-like, but it already has feathers and is often considered the ancestor of modern birds

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Kentrosaurus aethiopicus, also in Berlin

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Deinotherium at the Museum am Löwentor, Stuttgart

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Stenopterygius quadriscissus, also in Stuttgart. The animal died while or shortly before giving birth. If you looks closely (and click the photo for the big version), you can see three babies inside her, the one clearly visible was probably pushed out of her body when her body decayed.

See what else Z stands for with ABC Wednesday

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Rather B Birdin: Bali Starling

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A Bali Starling or Bali Myna (Leucopsar rothschildi) at the Wilhelma in Stuttgart. It's one of the most endangered bird species worldwide, with less than 150 individuals remaining in the wild and only about 1000 indivuduals in captivity. Poaching for the exotic bird trade is the biggest threat for these beautiful birds, along with habitat desctruction (I seem to write those words in almost all of my animal posts...).

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They live only on Bali where rainforests and acacia savannahs make up most of their habitat. They live in flocks of up to fourty birds and feed on insects, but will also take fruit and seeds.

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They nest in old woodpecker holes or natural tree holes. A Bali starling can reach an age of fifteen years or more and they will start to breed when they are two years of age.

More birds at I'd Rather B Birdin

Sources:
Arkive.org
San diego Zoo
Wikipedia