Sunday, March 27, 2011

On Site: Ducks in Schiltach

Schiltach is considered by many as the most beautiful town in the Black Forest, Germanyand surely all of those people cannot be all wrong.The town is cute indeed, the building are colourful and well-preserved and it has avery 'homey' atmosphere. But enough about the town, this post is about the ducks :) These ducks were photographed in the water canal that passed by the car park. Spending some time observing the group and some interesting behaviours can be seen and photographed.
Some are more restless than others, but all of them provide a great deal of entertainment and great photo opportunities!
Spent, perhaps too much time, feeding and looking at these individuals and with my camera in hand, I managed to get an interesting collection, from moving to static, young and "old".
Schiltach is worth a lot of frames but the nature around it is also equally worth a (many) shot(s)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

On site: Triberg

The town of Triberg, hidden in the dense Black Forest, Germany is most famously known for its waterfalls, but while I was walking around, the waterfall, as beautiful as can ben, was what capture my attention the least.In fact, the flora and fauna that embraces the waterfall is also worthy of recognition. There are squirrels, black and red, nutcrackers and other birds, marching around, trying to escape the human eye and the camera lenses.

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

But of course, the biggest nature enthusiasts know how to keep an eye on the wildlife around them and so these cute little animals could be easily seen and photographed. A lot of patience and rather nice results came out :)

Spotted Nutcracker
(Nucifraga caryocatactes)

Black Squirrel

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On Site: On the move

So there is nothing more frustrating than trying to freeze an animal in a frame and fail. All that blurriness makes the majestic scenery that was witness look like nothing more than just a bad photo. However that might not always be the case, and sense of movement can add something quite special to an otherwise "lost frame".
I am not saying that these two examples are any good, maybe I was just trying not to put these two photos in the back room, seeing that I enjoyed capturing them so much.
Both were during my travels through the Black Forest in Germany this summer and in Triberg, where an immense waterfall was surrounded by flourishing dense forest, these two species could be easily seen, delighting any passing tourist and photographer :D

Spotted Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes) By Laura Nunes
Triberg, Black Forest, Germany August 2010

The Black Forest houses a lot of interesting biodiversity and thus should be handled with care and is well worth a visit.

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
Triberg, Black Forest, Germany August 2010

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On site: Sea Lion

10th April 2009, I set foot in the glorious Galapagos Islands. An incredible place, peaceful and unique and a dream come true to every nature lovers and photographer. Having the opportunity to wonder around and observe, capture and admire great specimens such as the Sea lions (shown below), Iguanas and Albatrosses is certainly worth every penny spent. It is not always that one find somewhere where the wild can be shot in the wild, without bars or barriers or glass windows. There is no separation between me and the rest of the world, all that exists is a mutual respect and appreciation for each other. What more could one ask for?
Sea Lion, Galapagos Islands April 2009 by Laura Nunes

Tourism is thought to be one of the several detrimental activities which threaten this unique biome, however if one is careful and conscious of his impact on the ecosystem, then tourists are the major drivers that raise awareness towards this endangered, special habitat.
Help save a unique site of speciation, diversity and biological endurance which inspired so many scientists and other nature lovers in such a number of areas such as literature and art.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yesterday's Zoo

Very cute video about extinction and the importance of wildlife conservation by SHANE DEROLF

read more:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Vanishing of the Bees

Vanishing of the Bees - Trailer from Bee The Change on Vimeo.

Film by: George Langworthy and Maryam Henein

A Change of Colour: Tawny Owl

Recent studies in Finland, show that tawny owls (Strix aluco) populations are changing their plumage colour from grey to brown. It seems that the increase in owls with brown plumage may be related to climate change and the consequent decrease in snow cover.

Feather colour is hereditary, that is, is passed genetically from generation to generation, and the grey allele is said to be dominant over the brown allele, therefore, when both alleles are present, the progeny is grey-feathered, and only when it possess two brown alleles, the plumage is brown instead.

The terminology of colour change is misleading as tawny owls do not suffer any colour changes during its lifetime, they remain with the same colour, so why are scientists saying that the colours are changing?

Well, the truth is, that the brown phenotype (colour) is becoming more predominant, with a 20% increase. Thus nowadays the population of brown tawny owls makes up 50% of the entire population.

Grey and Brown Tawny Owls

Why this increase?

Population phenotypes change due to environmental pressures that select for advantageous characteristics, that is, if there is an advantage of having brown feathers, then the grey individuals will die, and the brown individuals will survive and pass on their winning genes. This is called Natural Selection and the 'survival of the fittest'.

So in the case of the tawny owl, it has been suggested that due to the decrease in snow cover, brown owls have more chances of survival as predators cannot detect them as easily as when there is thick snow cover.

The grey owls, conversely, are more easily camouflaged by the snow, and thus had higher survival rates, which counted for the predominance of this phenotype in the population.

However, these brown individuals possess disadvantageous genetic traits such as a weaker immune system and higher metabolism, requiring more foraging in search for food. Such characteristics are not found in the grey populations thus the increase of this phenotype may increase the vulnerability of the species overall.

Thus, it has been found that climate-driven selection is causing the species to evolve and raises concerns as to whether the grey 'gene pool' may disappear, causing a lower genetic diversity and a reduction in the variety of heritable material, which can cause the species to become genetically vulnerable to other environmental pressures and be at risk.

Such studies are important in determining not only the impacts of climate change on species but also the mechanisms from which species evolve and attempt to overcome adverse conditions, important information that is useful to our understanding of ecological interactions and allows scientists to devise more accurate and efficient conservation measures in order to prevent the detriment caused in our environment by human and non-human induced threats.

(click to see bigger) Survival estimates are based on averaging all candidate capture–mark–recapture models considering the effects of food supply (vole abundance), average snow depth and average temperature during a critical period in winter (see Supplementary Information). Climatic data are derived from the database of the Finnish Meteorological Institute. (a) Survival of brown and grey tawny owl colour morphs in relation to snow depth. (b) Snow depth during the critical period for tawny owl survival during 1981–2008 in Southern Finland. (c) Survival of grey and brown tawny owl colour morphs during 1981–2008. Grey tawny owls are denoted by grey circles and brown ones by red diamonds. Error bars are standard errors of the estimated survival and the lines are regression slopes based on the data.

Read more:
Original paper:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

There's a new species in town

Yesterday the Eastern Cougar was declared extinct but today the media is talking about a new species. Some come, some go it seems.
The new species is a jaguar-like catfish which swims in the Amazon River, Brazil, baptized as Ix,which in the maya language means jaguar. It was found in the world’s largest block of protected rainforest, in the nortehrn state of P├íra.
This fish is small, translucent and is only a couple of centimeters long and its discovery enhances the need to protect one of the world's most endangered forests, as there is still a lot to be learned from this incredible corner of the world.

Stenolicnus ix

Further reading:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

End of the Cougar 'Big Foot'

Today is a sad day for all conservationists and for all of the non-conservationists. We lost someone. A species that was long questioned of its existence, yet a glimmer of hope still lingered in the eyes of cougar enthusiasts. Named the "ghost cat", the Eastern Cougar has been official declared extinct by the U.S FIsh and Wildlife Services on the 2nd of March of 2011.

Eastern Cougar (Puma concolor couguar) is a subspecies of the puma or mountain lion which since the killing of the last known individual in 1938 has been surrounded by a lot of speculation and myths.

Not a lot can be said about this unique subspecies as perhaps it vanished too soon for proper research to be conducted, thus its confirmed loss today, signifies, among many things, the loss of potentially insightful scientific knowledge that will never be obtained.

In 1973, the Eastern Cougar was placed in the endangered species list, e

ven though it wasn't certain whether the subspecies still walked around Florida. It is said that some hunters and outdoor enthusiast believed that an

Eastern Cougar

elusive breeding population was still roaming around. Encouraged by the people and backed by e 108 confirmed sighting between 1900 and 2010 from the Wildlife Service, researchers gathered in order to find that "ghost" population, but came back empty-handed.

If there was a breeding population, there should have been traces of it, scats, snow tracks, road-kills, caught in trail cameras, just to name a few. But nothing was detected, not a single trace.

It is certainly a great loss for the planet and many conservationists may feel defeated, however, there is still time to save the other subspecies of puma: the Florida Panther.

If the confirmation of the extinction of the Easter Cougar, conservation efforts can now turn to the other threatened mammal, hopefully having a happier-everafter.

The Florida Panther can be rescued from extinction by preservation its current habitat and reintroducing it to its historical homes. And there is a perfect place to start: Okefenokee refuge

Sure it is a bit unpronounceable but the pumas will not mind as it seems that is houses the habitat requirements which would perhaps save this equally unique subspecies and restore nature's balance.

Pumas, being a top predator, have a critical control on the lower trophic levels, in a process called Mesopredator suppression, and the dramatic loss of such predators is thus resulting in the increase of this larger herbivores, which can potentially have catrastrophic effect to the ecosystem around them. One consequence is the overgrazing of the flora by feral hog, which include several native plants. Being a

Florida Panther


species the feral hog is a threat to the native biodiversity found in Okefenokee, but with the

reintroduction of Florida Panthers, the numbers of feral hogs would decrease and therefore this precious forest ecosystem which sustains many other endangered animals would be restored.

These news only show that extinction happened and is happening and that there is still time for many of our planet non-huan earthlings to be rescued from extinction if we give them a helping-hand.
Feral Hog

Find out more:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sun Come Up

Sun Come Up Trailer from Sun Come Up on Vimeo.

Nominated for an Academy Award this year, but of course it went to something related to economical crisis in america and what not.
Still, a great effort and even though I haven't seen it yet, it sounds like a beautiful, well-orchestrated documentary.

Sun Come Up - A film by Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzge