Saturday, March 16, 2013

I'd Rather b Birdin: Northern Gannet

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A Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus), a large seabird with a wingspan of up to 180cm. They live in Europe and some colonies are in Canada, the largest in Newfoundland with 60.000 pairs. But around 65% of the world's population live in Great Britain. They nest on islands and cliffs where their chicks are protected from land predators. Here is a video of two courting birds. Imagine 59.998 more birds doing the same...bird colonies are anything but quiet places.

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Northern Gannets feed on small fish and will divebomb into the water when they have found a shoal of fish. Watch how they fold their wings backwards just before hitting the water, to make their body more streamlined.
Each pair raises one, very rarely two chicks, each year and it takes five years for the juveniles to become ready to breed. Until then they wear a dark plumage.

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

Sources:
Internet Bird collection
Wikipedia
Arkive

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nature Notes: Valley of Fire

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Valley of Fire was a spontaneous stop on our trip and a great choice because there is so much to see there and because it's a beautiful place. The campground is right in the middle of that awesome landscape and there's a lot do see without having to drive anywhere.

Like the petroglyphs:
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The biggest collection at Atlatl Rock is under a rock overhang and protected by glass, but there are many more if you only look for them.

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This is the White Domes trail where quite a few movies have been shot, The Professionals for example or Star Trek: Generations.

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With a bit of imagination, there are faces and creatures everywhere. Like this snarling cat:
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or this guy, with his hair flying in the wind
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and we named this one Munch's Rock:
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Nature Notes is hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nature Notes: Mesa Verde - the small stuff part 2


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these were abundant along the trail

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as were these

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a rock wren (Salpinctes obsoletus)

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a wasp, munching on a caterpillar

and two animals I was particularly excited to see: a Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)
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it was basking right on the path, but it fled quickly when we came along, rattling loudly all the time.

and a Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla sp.) - I had heard of them, but never seen them. They are not ants, but solitary wasps. The female is wingless and after mating, she will search for a bumblebee nest to lay her eggs in. They camouflage very effectively as ants and have an extremely painful sting which has earned them the name of cow killer.
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Most of the photos in the last two Nature Notes posts were taken during a single two hour walk along the trail ... it pays to take things slow and to keep an eye on the ground. It takes a while to learn to spot animals form the corner of your eye, but once you learned the trick, you'll be amazed at what you see.

Nature Notes is hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods