Crayfish and buzzard


This morning, to the old harbour.

Mallards, coots.

A bit further in the canal, a moorhen with chicks.

Two great cormorants diving.

Two speckled wood butterflies flying around each other.

Chiffchaff and robin sound.

Near the stone bridge, an assistant to a biology teacher has caught a red swamp crayfish.

As a big school of young rudd passes, she tries to catch one of the little fish for a demonstration at her educational institution. However, the fish manage to avoid the net.

In the Corversbos nature reserve, nuthatch sound.

This is a buzzard video.

A buzzard flies away from a tree, circling above the field together with another buzzard.

As we walk back to the canal under the stone bridge, a pondskater.

January 2012. The Environment Agency is using radio transmitters to locate and track a ferocious predator invading English waterways. The virile crayfish, a highly aggressive non-native crayfish, is slowly invading waterways in East London. This unwanted visitor preys on native wildlife and spreads crayfish plague, a disease deadly to native white clawed crayfish: here.

How different species of invasive crayfish interact with each other and affect their local environment has been uncovered for the first time by scientists at Queen Mary University of London: here.

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Rare death’s-head hawkmoth on Texel


This video from Denmark says about itself:

This is the sound of the moth “Acherontia atropos”.

The sound is rare in the world of moths, and it is the only moth in Denmark which makes a sound.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

It was instantly recognizable by the terrifying markings on the thorax, the death’s-head hawkmoth on the beach at De Koog. It was sitting literally on beach post #19. Ernst Loendersloot photographed the large moth there last Sunday. According to butterfly expert Cees Maas it was the first sighting of this lepidopteran on the island this year.

Death’s-head hawkmoths are quite rare in the Netherlands.

Hyles gallii, bedstraw hawkmoth, in the Netherlands: here.

September 2011: Conservationists have released hundreds of caterpillars in a bid to boost the numbers of one of the UK’s rarest moths. About 2,000 barberry carpet moth larvae have been introduced to the organically managed Cholderton Estate on the Hampshire/Wiltshire border: here.

October 2011: What is thought to be the first Yorkshire breeding colony of the yellow belle moth has been discovered on the green roof of the Reserve Base at Natural England’s Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve: here.

Fossil moth reveals colorful hue: Paleontologists deduce how ridges on the creature’s wings reflected light: here.

Rare plants after Australian bushfire


From New Scientist:

Huge Australian bushfires ignited rare plant growth

11:27 19 September 2011 by Wendy Zukerman

Rare plants are springing up in an Australian park ravaged by bushfires – plants that had never been recorded there before the fire. The astonishing revival is providing new insights into the way ecosystems recover from fire damage.

Over 90 per cent of Kinglake National Park in Victoria was damaged by bushfires in a February 2009 disaster that also claimed 173 lives. “Very few areas were unaffected by the fire, leaving minimal refuge for flora and fauna,” says Richard Francis, a botanist at Abzeco, an ecological science consultancy based in Melbourne, Australia.

Now Francis and colleagues have completed a two-year survey of the 330,000-hectare park and found that the fires not only stimulated dormant seeds to grow but also attracted previously unknown plants to the region. More than 60 plant species never before recorded in the park have flourished since the fires, including blue-spike milkwort (Comesperma calymega) and tufted lobelia (Lobelia rhombifolia).

In addition, plants that had been under threat before the bushfires are now germinating prolifically. These include round-leaf pomaderris (Pomaderris vaccinifolia), silky golden-tip (Goodia lotifolia var. pubescens) and swamp bush-pea (Pultenaea glabra).

Francis says the seeds of these species were buried in the soil but could not grow because mature plants such as rough tree ferns (Cyathia australis) were outcompeting them. But when the fires decimated the mature flora, exposing the ground beneath to heat, smoke and more light, the underdogs were able to thrive. Seeds are thought to be stimulated by chemicals in the smoke and ultraviolet light, he says.

The new plants also attracted several bird species that had rarely, if ever, been recorded within the park. According to Karl Just, also of Abzeco, very large congregations of white-browed woodswallows (Artamus superciliosus) could be seen gliding through the sky for months after the fire. The red-capped robin (Petroica goodenovii), which normally lives in open scrub and low-density woodland, was also recorded in forested areas for the first time.

But is this a long-term change? Probably not. “It’s likely that these species will be gradually outcompeted once more,” says Francis. Already, some of the rare plants that proliferated in the first year after the fire have begun to retreat as ferns, trees and wet forest shrubs have started growing back.

“These forests were portrayed as destroyed, but they weren’t,” says David Lindenmayer, a fire ecologist at the Australian National University in Canberra. “All the plants are there in the soil seed bank and will remain so after the parent plants die.”

The NSW government is mismanaging one of the Murray-Darling’s most significant wetlands, deciding last week to open up the Millewa section of the Murray Valley National Park to more firewood collection: here.

Crawling its way along barren rocks and cliffs where nothing should be growing, Yareta could be mistaken for an alien life form or a primordial green ooze. Actually, it is a flowering plant that grows up in the high altitudes of Peru, Chile and Bolivia: here.

Yemen dictatorship kills infant, video


The caption on Twitter for this video from Yemen is:

Heart breaking video of an infant killed by snipers today in his mothers arms while passing in a car.

Yemeni soldiers killed 20 protesters in the capital Sanaa today, a day after 20 others were mown down by government forces who opened fire on thousands of demonstrators with anti-aircraft guns and automatic weapons: here.

Yemen Analysis: The Latest Deaths and the Mistakes of US Policy (Johnsen): here.

Yemen unrest: Saleh forces ‘shell Sanaa protest camp': here.

A three-day crackdown by security forces has left 80 people dead in Yemen’s capital after demonstrators moved from Change Square toward the centre of the city on Sunday: here.

Yemeni government forces fired mortars at tens of thousands of mourners in Sanaa today, killing three and wounding at least 16: here.

Renewed violence in the Yemeni capital Sanaa killed at least nine people today as street battles broke out between forces loyal to the regime and its opponents: here.

Stop Yemen Massacre! Graphic Videos here.

Anti-government protests planned in Sanaa for later this afternoon, as Yemen’s president returns: here.

Death penalty for Troy Davis?


Troy Davis Rally from paul jackson on Vimeo.

By Joseph Kishore in the USA:

Georgia parole board meets to decide fate of Troy Davis

19 September 2011

Atlanta, Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis, whose pending execution has attracted worldwide opposition, is set to be killed by lethal injection on Wednesday. A Georgia parole board meeting today is his last hope of clemency.

The case of Davis exemplifies the barbarism of the US prison system in general, and the death penalty in particular. Now 42, Davis was convicted in 1991 of the 1989 murder of an off-duty police officer, Mark MacPhail.

Seven out of nine non-police witnesses who accused Davis of the killing later recanted or changed their testimony. One of the remaining is a possible suspect himself. No physical evidence linking Davis to the killing was presented at the trial.

Several jurors have said that, given the new evidence, they would have come to a different decision. However, Davis has been unable to get a new trial.

In 2008, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles—which has the authority to grant pardons, not the governor as in most states—denied clemency before an earlier execution date without explanation. If the five-member board, which has three new members, decides differently this time, Davis will face life in prison.

Davis and his lawyers have gone through a tortuous process of appeals aimed at securing him a new trial. He has had four separate executions dates. In September 2008 he came within two hours of execution before a last-minute intervention by the Supreme Court.

Davis’ case has attracted international support, and a demonstration on Friday in Atlanta brought at least 1,000 people. Other demonstrations were held in 300 cities throughout the world. Over 600,000 people have signed a petition appealing for clemency.

A major factor in preventing Davis from getting a new trial has been the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, signed into law by Bill Clinton. The act, a precursor to the anti-democratic legislation passed after the 9/11 attacks, severely restricts federal courts from overturning death penalty convictions and ordering new trials.

Lawyers for Troy Davis presented evidence of his innocence Monday to the Georgia parole board, which is to decide whether the 42-year-old death row inmate is put to death by lethal injection September 21: here.

Troy Davis Denied Clemency By Georgia Pardons Board: here. And here.