stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Get ready for pack-hunting snakes.

And wait until you read about their bat-catching techniques....

:hides under covers:
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I suppose what I just saw would not be news to an experienced birder, but it was the first time I'd ever seen it.

I was looking out the bathroom window, as I often do while carrying out little mindless tasks like brushing, when I saw a couple of sparrows in the yard. I'm not sure what species - both had rather dull female plumage - but I'd guess English, or perhaps European. At any rate, one of them was flying as if it were a hummingbird, beating its wings rapidly enough to hover or move slowly above the ground. It couldn't keep it up for more than a few seconds, but it repeated the behavior two or three times before flitting away.

Never saw that before.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
A man, a guitar, and two cockatoos.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
All she wanted to do was to rake the leaves.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Every year, the red crabs of Christmas Island migrate from the forest to the shore and back again. It takes about a week each way, and has become something of a tourist attraction.

Weird, weird world.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
This one's for dog-lovers everywhere, but especially for [personal profile] norabombay.

Pets

Aug. 5th, 2011 02:05 pm
stoutfellow: (Three)
Okay, now this is startling: baboons and their pet dogs. I'd love to see what, say, Frans de Waal would make of this.

Dogs

Oct. 30th, 2010 09:19 am
stoutfellow: (Winter)
This one's not about Buster and Gracie. Here's an interesting article about the evolution of dogs. The first part is a bit commonplace, but the section towards the end on the feral dogs of Moscow, especially the "beggar dogs", is fascinating.

Whazzat?

Sep. 25th, 2010 12:00 pm
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
Hunh.

Just now, I was finishing dinner. Buster was under the table, waiting for scraps, as usual, but Gracie, oddly, was nowhere to be seen. I set the plate down for Buster to lick and decided I should look for her. Just as I stood up, I heard a *thump* from the garage. Glancing out, I saw a blackish something come out the outer doggie door, leap to the top of the fence, and then away. It was gone before I could maneuver into position to see it clearly.

I think it was a cat.

A few moments later, Gracie came bounding in, wiggling happily and looking for scraps.

I devoutly hope that it wasn't a female cat, building a nest. The barrier that used to shield most of the garage from the dogs is gone now, and I don't know how the dogs would react to kittens. (I suspect that Buster, at least, would show no mercy.)

Good Deal

Apr. 4th, 2010 04:48 pm
stoutfellow: (Three)
This is just heartwarming.

That deal we made with wolves, however many millennia ago, is still paying dividends.

Fauna

Jan. 8th, 2010 12:08 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
Today has been a lively day.

This morning, at the most inconvenient of moments, I heard Gracie yelping in fright. I, um, leaned forward (not being in a position to do more than that) and saw Buster snarling and grabbing her by the neck. I shouted at him; he let her go, and she raced over and hid, um, behind me. I spent some time calming her down; there's been no recurrence, but there's also no indication what triggered the fight. It wasn't food this time; they were both in the living room.

Later, canine excitement again erupted; this time, there was a bird in the house - a sparrow of some kind. (I think it got in through the doggie doors, somehow.) An entertaining ten or fifteen minutes followed; I finally chivvied it out into the garage. Hopefully, it won't come back in.

Hopefully also, that'll be the last faunal emergency of the day.

Sheesh.

"Such"?

Nov. 19th, 2009 09:43 am
stoutfellow: (Winter)
From the BBC:
A bear killed two militants after discovering them in its den in Indian-administered Kashmir, police say.

Two other militants escaped, one of them badly wounded, after the attack in Kulgam district, south of Srinagar.

The militants had assault rifles but were taken by surprise - police found the remains of pudding they had made to eat when the bear attacked.

It is thought to be the first such incident since Muslim separatists took up arms against Indian rule in 1989.
Does anyone else find that last sentence boggling? ("The first such incident". The first time since 1989 that a bear has killed Kashmiri militants?)

Two Links

Oct. 28th, 2009 06:40 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water... this happens.

On a lighter note: The Girl is so happy!

Squirrelly

Sep. 20th, 2009 10:38 am
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
Squirrels are bad news.

I think I've already posted this story, which took place in suburban Dallas. Now, further data has come in from the forests of Tanzania.

Keep your eyes open; one of these days, the chipmunks will come get us.
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
Ye gods and little fishes enormous worms!

Birds

Nov. 29th, 2008 07:20 am
stoutfellow: (Ben)
One of the nicest things about late autumn in the Midwest is walking out into a crisp, clear morning and hearing a treeful of birds - not singing, just chirping away, and a few of them flitting about.

Even better - though I was not granted that today - is watching a great flock of them wheeling through the skies, not, apparently, going anywhere, but just sweeping in great arcs overhead.

Insects

Aug. 21st, 2008 07:35 pm
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
There is a rather large - about four inches, head to tail - praying mantis clinging to the outside of my window. We just had a brief thunderstorm, and things get blown about....

This is the third largish insect I've seen in the last few days; there was a dragonfly (memory says about three inches, but my judgment of lengths is suspect1) flitting around near the Science Building two or three days ago, and the largest katydid I've ever seen hanging on the University bus shelter. I don't know whether there are more of them about, the weather is making them more conspicuous, or I've just been noticing them more.

There've been some pretty big moths around, too. At least there are no cicadas :knock wood:.

[1] I used a tape measure to check the length of the praying mantis.
stoutfellow: (Ben)
In an earlier post, I lamented the apparent extinction of the Baiji, the Yangtze river dolphin. Now, I hear from the World Wildlife Fund that a living Baiji has been captured on film. Maybe it's not too late.
stoutfellow: (Ben)
Some time ago, [livejournal.com profile] pompe raised a question: what might have happened if foxes, instead of wolves, had been the first canid to be domesticated? In response, I mentioned an experiment in domesticating foxes I'd read about.

In an effort to maintain some of the housecleaning momentum from [livejournal.com profile] mbernardi's visit, I've been cleaning off the desk in my computer room. One of the unexpected items unearthed by this effort is the March-April 1999 issue of American Scientist, which contains an article on the experiment I mentioned. Without going into the details that I'd forgotten, I'd like to quote the following passage, which seems relevant to [livejournal.com profile] pompe's question.
Over the years, other investigators and I have raised several fox pups in domestic conditions, either in the laboratory or at home as pets. They have shown themselves to be good-tempered creatures, as devoted as dogs but as independent as cats, capable of forming deep-rooted pair bonds with human beings - mutual bonds, as those of us who work with them know. If our experiment should continue, and if fox pups could be raised and trained the way dog puppies are now, there is no telling what sort of animal they might one day become.
(It should be noted that the fox pups in question are the product of some thirty generations of selection for tameness; they are not wild foxes.)

Whoa...

Jan. 10th, 2007 03:07 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
Although the St. Louis area is a good place for birding, I'm no more than a casual practitioner; I don't go looking for birds, but I do like to keep my eyes open. I've seen a good variety of birds - three kinds of heron, three kinds of blackbird, wrens, swifts, plover, mockingbirds... One thing I haven't seen a lot of, though, is raptors. (Once, while biking, I saw a peregrine - beautiful animal! - perched on a street sign; utterly unruffled, it watched me pedal past at a distance of no more than ten feet.) This afternoon, though, on the way to work, I glanced up and saw an unmistakeable silhouette, the thick body and broad wings of one of the larger hawks. (The sight immediately pulled to mind an illustration from Peterson's, accompanied by the words "genus Buteo". What that image was doing in memory, I don't know.) I couldn't tell what species it was, and couldn't wait for long to find out. In the few seconds that I watched, though, it banked slightly and I caught a flash of red from the upper surface of its tail. When I get home, I'll pull out my guides and see if I can get a firmer ID. With or without ID, though, the sight was thrilling. That something so heavy-looking should be able to fly so effortlessly seems almost unfair...

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