Monday, October 26, 2015

Dance the fire of your longing...

(Image from here)

Reclaim what has been forgotten.
Dance the fire of your longing
under the waxing moon of your full presence.
Carry the seeds of your dreams
awhile longer in the womb of Nature’s being.
Let the Earth incubate
your wild if onlys
in its embryonic embrace
as you re-member the self you were so many eons ago
when you were forest and moonlight.

(Poem found on Tree Sisters FB page)

RIP Meamar

This beautiful male Amur Leopard was killed by an automobile - you can read the story here.

I had zero idea that there was even an Amur Leopard and had to read a little about them.  Apparently, there are only about 80 left in the world, so losing this beautiful male is very problematic for the species. 

You can read the Wiki entry here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Science is not above reproach

Protect the Polar Bear

Polar bear suffering from abusive science

A sad image of a starving polar bear went viral a few months ago. This shocking image came to my attention a couple of days ago. It shows a MALE polar bear being wounded, suffocated, by a collar device. The photo is less than 2 weeks old. It is from the east Alaskan part of the coast of the Southern Beaufort Sea.

I have had confirmation that the USFWS are aware of this bear and its predicament. According to my sources, they are ”monitoring the bear”. Word is that the bear does not belong to a USFWS program, it has been collared under a Canadian regime.
Generally, only polar bear females are collared. Males develop much thicker necks and have the potential to either pull the collars off over their heads (if they are loose enough) or get strangled by the collars (if they are tight enough).

A timed self-release device that allows the collars to fall off before the male polar bears get problems from them is apparently the reason behind a program to experimentally put collars on males in the Southern Beaufort Sea – a methodology used by only one senior polar bear researcher.

Also female polar bears routinely suffer from their collars and from the human handling associated with putting them on. Scientists are well aware of this. They have even among themselves coined the term “stinker” for bears with collars that cause such gross inflammation and infection that they smell very bad upon renewed human contact!
The invasive methods used in polar bear science are a general problem. Self-restraint, and a respectful approach to individual bears, is a universal scarcity in polar bear science. Clearly, the chase/sedate/handle/collar methods are traumatic. With male polar bears, collaring is a failure. Whether it is due to failed release mechanism, or to bad programming of the timers, the result is suffocating bears. The photographer of this particular bear, and other sources, assure me that this is not a unique case. 

Polar bears are in dire straits already – due mostly to over hunting and sea ice melting. The Southern Beaufort Sea subpopulation of polar bears has been dramatically crashing in recent years, and the continued utterly unsustainable hunting on both the Canadian and US sides of the border is driving the subpopulation towards extirpation. The management and “conservation” of polar bears is already a disgrace. The last thing these bears need is additional casualties due to scientific experiments.

The USFWS says they do not have funds to save this bear right now. Really? Well, someone needs to take responsibility for their actions. Canada? In the meantime, the polar bear suffers.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Reddish Egret


Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) in Florida, USA by ER Post on Flickr.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Australian Pelicans

Australian Pelicans in breeding colors. In the breeding season the large bills take on brighter colors and are used as flags to attract the opposite sex when they flap in the breeze. 

Kangaroo Island, South Australia by Grame Guy

Eagle Huntress

Ashol-Pan, the now 14-year-old Mongolian/Kazakh celebrity who rose to fame online, is a primary example of the potential of new media technologies to transform the lives of nomadic women. In January, 2016, Ashol-Pan will star alongside her family in Eagle Huntress, a documentary that follows her life in the remote mountains of Tsambagarav Uul National Park. The film will also call attention to the rapidly disappearing tradition of eagle hunting.

A day earlier, Ashol-Pan’s mother, Almagul, had sat in front of the camera and talked about her daily life, oriented around caring for livestock and making dairy products and food for her family. She has never eagle-hunted, although she often feeds and cares for her daughter’s and husband’s eagles. She has a cellphone, which she uses infrequently, and watches television occasionally with her family — especially films in Mongolian. She likes technology, but is in no way attached to it. She is proud of her daughter’s fame, but then, she is proud of all of her four children. And while she feels that technology has played a role in her daughter’s celebrity status, she does not have a desire to use technology more regularly. She is satisfied with her life.

At the end of the interview, I asked: “How has fame changed your daughter’s life?” Almagul smiled. “We’ve been very lucky. I’m very proud of my daughter. But, I also worry about her. In Mongolia, we have this belief that fame is bad luck. So, I worry that too much fame will bring my daughter bad luck.”
You can read the rest of this article here.

You can see more pictures of Ashol-Pan here, along with more information about her and Mongolian nomad culture.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


(Click to enlarge)

Merlin catching a dragonfly

Photo by Carl Woo

(where you can find the top 100 amazing photos)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Reasserting her willdish nature...

(Image from here)

When women reassert
their relationship with the wildish nature,
they are gifted with a permanent
and internal watcher,
a knower,
a visionary, ...
an oracle,
an inspiratrice,
an intuitive,
a maker,
a creator,
an inventor,
and a listener who guide,
and urge vibrant life
in the inner and outer worlds.
When women are close to this nature,
the fact of that relationship glows through them.
The wild teacher,
wild mother,
wild mentor
supports their inner and outer lives,
no matter what.

~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes -Women Who Run With The Wolves

Thursday, October 8, 2015

H is for Hawk

Here is an excerpt of a book review from Death of a Million Trees.  You can read the entire blog entry here.
Origins of the inhabitants

At the end of a challenging hunt, Helen and Mabel encounter a herd of deer.  Helen describes the scene:

“The running deer and the running hare.  Legacies of trade and invasion, farming, hunting, settlement.  Hares were introduced, it is thought, by the Romans.  Fallow deer certainly were.  Pheasants, too, brought in their burnished hordes from Asia Minor.  The partridges possessing this ground were originally from France, and the ones I see here were hatched in game-farm forced-air incubators.  The squirrel on the sweet chestnut?  North America.  Rabbits?  Medieval introductions.  Felt, meat, fur, feather, from all corners.  But possessing the ground, all the same.”

On this bucolic scene, a couple appears and admires the herd of deer:  “The deer.  Special, aren’t they, those ones.  Rare…A herd of deer.  Doesn’t it give you hope?  Isn’t it a relief that there’re things still like that, a real bit of Old England still left, despite all those immigrants coming in?”

The encounter with the deer is ruined for Helen by this xenophobic comment:

“It is a miserable walk.  I should have said something.  But embarrassment had stopped my tongue.  Stomping along, I start pulling on the thread of darkness they’d handed me.  I think of the chalk-cult countryside and all its myths of blood-belonging, and that hateful bronze falcon, of Göring’s plans to exclude Jews from German forests.  I think of the Finnish goshawks that made the Brecklands home, and of my grandfather, born on the Western Isles, who spoke nothing but Gaelic until he was ten.  And the Lithuanian builder I’d met collecting mushrooms in a wood who asked me, bewildered, why no one he’d met in England knew which were edible, and which were not.  I think of all the complicated histories that landscapes have, and how easy it is to wipe them away, put easier, safer histories in their place.”

Sand Angel

"Wanna make sand angels with me?"

Cheeky Australian Sea Lion at Seal Bay Conservation Park / Quentin Chester - Photography

Black Cockatoo

Beautiful young Black Cockatoo.
Image & Text: David Whelan Photography

Learn more about these beautiful birds here (PDF). Click on image to enlarge it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Putorana Plateau, Siberia

The second largest store of fresh water in Russia by capacity after Lake Baikal, and certainly one of the most remote & stunning areas of Siberia, the Putorana Plateau in pictures by Sergey Gorshkov. 

If by any chance you are in Moscow, exhibition of Sergey's pictures goes until 16 October; see more here.

Monday, October 5, 2015


"At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? What gift would enable me to do it? A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres. Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or stage of life that it intensifies toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up. At this threshold a great complexity of emotion comes alive: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope.

This is one of the reasons such vital crossings were always clothed in ritual. It is wise in your own life to be able to recognize and acknowledge the key thresholds: to take your time; to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there; to listen inward with complete attention until you hear the inner voice calling you forward. The time has come to cross."

-John O'Donohue 

Art by Douglas Smith

Starry starry night

Starry night over Altai region, by Barnaul-based photographer Alexey Ebel

Listening to our non human siblings

Design inspiration comes in a lot of forms. When it comes to solar panels, engineers sometimes look toward the butterfly. One may not think this little insect is a powerhouse for harnessing solar energy, but a butterfly's beautiful wings offer far more than flight.

Scientists from the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) and the Centre for Ecology and Conservation of the University of Exeter employed biomimicry, or using patterns and techniques from nature in applied science, to help develop a more efficient way to turn light into power, also known as photovoltaic energy.

On cloudy days, a Cabbage White butterfly positions its wings in a v-shape and holds this stance for several moments before taking flight. This posture reflects heat downward, allowing the sun to warm up the insect's "flying muscles" before take off, thus utilizing and converting solar energy into kinetic energy.

Scientists assumed that if this unique positioning works for the butterfly, the same positioning might help solar panels soak up more energy from the sun. This theory proved to be right, as mimicking the Cabbage White butterfly's v-shaped pose increased the solar panel's energy production by 50 percent and making the power-to-weight ratio 17 times more efficient than other structures, according to the study published in Scientific Reports.
Perhaps if we humans listened more to what the rest of our non human siblings were telling us, we might be able to get out of this cluster*uck that we've created and which is sucking us into a sinkhole like this:

It's good to be multilingual!

You can read the rest of the article here, which is where the butterfly image is from.

Sitting with the dying

In A Tale of a Sickly Whale, Dee Dee Conover recalls a chance encounter with a dying True’s beaked whale on the beach of her home island in Maine. Featuring hand-drawn imagery from the UK-based animators Rosanna Wan and Zuzanna Weiss, Conover’s reflection is a brief yet moving glimpse into the way that people can find not only a profound emotional connection with highly intelligent members of another species, but also a distinct impression of meaningful communication.

A Tale of a Sickly Whale is part of BBC Radio 4’s Short Cuts documentary series. For more from BBC Radio 4, watch What Does it Mean to be Me? and The Life You Can Save, part of their A History of Ideas video series. For more on whales, watch The Whale Warehouse, on the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s massive mammal bone collection, and Whale Fall, on how a whale’s body sustains other lifeforms long after its own death.

Water Witch

 (Image from here)
The highway to Oroville, a small town in California’s Central Valley, runs into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. As the road and the temperature climb, the neon lights of the valley’s box stores give way to orchards. Before the weather changed, this was a good place for fruit. Along the highway, hand-painted posters flash: ‘Fresh! Peaches’. The town was founded during the Gold Rush, and although today it’s home to more farmers than miners, it’s still a place where people search for what they don’t have. ‘Severe drought,’ highway signs blink. ‘Limit outdoor watering.’ There’s been no rain here since April, and the land is so dry even the moonlight is dusty. I’ve travelled 3,000 miles to California looking for a woman looking for water. I’ve come to a desert.

Sharron Hope, I’ve heard, can find water underground. As a dowser, she uses tools as simple as a stick to determine where to place a well. Holding a forked branch, Hope can tell if she is approaching a buried spring because she will feel these tools move in her hands. She can even estimate how many feet to dig and how many gallons per minute the finished hole will produce. She’s right so regularly that excavators often call her before breaking ground.
Of course, there are people who doubt Hope’s abilities. According to the United States Geological Survey: ‘The natural explanation of “successful” water dowsing is that in many areas water would be hard to miss.’ But the state is now entering its fourth year without enough rain, and this summer struggling farmers will let 620,000 acres lie fallow, losing an estimated $5.7 billion dollars. As increasingly desperate Californians turn to dubious and expensive long-term projects like piping water 1,400 miles from Alaska or building a billion‑dollar desalination plant in San Diego, dowsing for a well looks downright sensible. Hope’s become one of the few people sure of their answers, and the appeal of that certainty is easy to understand. The more difficult question is: how, in the middle of this century’s worst drought, is she still turning up water?

Hope agrees to explain over breakfast and suggests we meet at Oroville’s Gold Country Casino and Hotel. Just after sunrise, the parking lot is filled with dusty pickups. The farmers inside might have more of a chance at a jackpot than rain. The waterfall is closed for construction and the slot machines sing. Hope is waiting outside the café with a large map, a ruler and a pendulum – a long crystal on a silver chain. Dowsers use these tools to answer questions the same way one might use an Ouija board, by holding them and concentrating until they move one way for yes, and another for no, pointing their owner in the right direction.

We sit at a greasy vinyl booth. Hope pulls out a bird’s‑eye view of a client’s property and holds her pendulum over it. When the tool swings, she marks the spot with a black Sharpie. ‘Where it circles, that means there’s two water veins,’ Hope says. She’ll double-check her results in person. ‘You get on the land, and then you just concentrate.’ When the tools move, Hope knows she’s in the right spot.

Like dowsers, geologists look for water by preparing a map of the land. But their cartography focuses on the physical terrain, tracking where different kinds of rock come to the surface and plotting historical well data. Radar can reveal fractures in the ground where water might flow. Geologists combine this data for a pretty good guess at where underground aquifers might lie. ‘Geologists get a black‑and‑white printout that goes hundreds of feet down and shows you the layers of rock and openings where water might be,’ Hope says. ‘But they can’t actually tell you if there’s water.’ She took graduate hydrogeology courses at Chico State University 25 miles away, and she says that the more she learned, the more she thought: ‘I might as well go dowse. It saves people money and it’s just as accurate.’

However popular dowsing may be, the US Geological Survey takes pains to point out that it is not a science. Hope says: ‘If you call a geologist, it’ll cost you $2,000 a day.’ By comparison, she charges a one-time fee of $250 for a well-siting. Despite the differences in her methods, she works regularly with real estate agents and drillers, and the drought has multiplied her business. David Munch, an excavator who digs wells throughout the Central Valley, says he calls her anytime he has a client in the foothills. Her results speak for themselves: Hope has found dozens of wells this year.
You can read the rest of this fascinating Aeon article here.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Grizzly love

(Image from FB)

Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel; The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins - a NY Times book review

Safina comes to an unfamiliar but empirically based conclusion: prior to the domestication of plants and the invention of writing, the differences between human societies and those of elephants, dogs, killer whales, and dolphins was a matter of degree, not kind. Why, he asks, has it taken us so long to understand this? Are our egos “threatened by the thought that other animals think and feel? Is it because acknowledging the mind of another makes it harder to abuse them?”
The discovery of nonhuman societies composed of highly intelligent, social, empathetic individuals possessing sophisticated communication systems will force us to reformulate many questions. We have long asked whether we are alone in the universe. But clearly we are not alone on earth. The evolution of intelligence, of empathy and complex societies, is surely more likely than we have hitherto considered. And what is it, exactly, that sets our species apart? We clearly are different, but in light of Beyond Words we need to reevaluate how, and why.
That is an excerpt of a review of 2 books about animals in the NY Times. The books are entitled:

Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina 

The Cultural Lives of Whales and Dolphins by Hal Whitehead and Luke Rendell 

The entire review is worth the read. Both books sound so interesting, especially the one by Safina, and are now on my reading list.  


Both pictures are from the article in the Times.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Caterpillar shed her skin...


Belgian photographer Manuel Leyssens (Leyman) specializes in macro photography of insects with perfect lighting. Check out his website at
Image and text from FB.