Birds of Prince Edward Island, Canada, new blogger


This video from Canada is called Birds of Prince Edward Island.

From Bird Canada:

Welcome to Prince Edward Island Birding!

Posted on August 5, 2014 by Pat Bumstead

Welcome new Bird Canada author Ron Arvidson from Prince Edward Island who will be posting the 5th of each month. It’s wonderful to have the Atlantic birds now represented on the blog!

Ron was born and raised in Manitoba, and growing up had ranged freely through the wood and eastern slope of Riding Mountain National Park. In doing so, he always had an interest of the flora and fauna of the area. Since graduating University of Regina, he has lived and visited across Canada from Horsefly Lake, BC to Cape St. Mary’s, NL. Today, he lives in rural PEI, where as an Artist and Educator, he chases birds on PEI. He is co-administrator of the Birding on PEI Faceboook page and also contributes to the blog http://preservecompany.com/blogs/we-are-for-the-birds.

Shorebirds on the Move

At this time in Prince Edward Island, our focus begins to change from our warblers and breeding birds to the birds of the shore. For the past few weeks shorebirds have been appearing in numbers on our beaches. One of the areas I am most familiar with is along the south shore.

One of the areas that I frequently visit is that of the Bedeque Bay Important Bird Area. Recently, I have visited and have been able to find Semipalmated Plover and Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstones, Short-billed Dowitchers and both Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs. A Ruff was sighted in the area earlier this year and Godwits are also frequently seen. One can also see Black-bellied Plover and Dunlin later in the season.

Grizzly bear ‘highway’ discovery in Canada


This video from the USA is called Grizzly Bears and Wolves of Yellowstone (Full Documentary).

From The Star in Canada:

Grizzly bear ‘highway’ found on West Coast

First Nations researchers find centuries-old paw prints that show bears are very predictable in both the times of day they’re active and the routes they take

By: , Star Reporter,

Published on Fri Jul 25 2014

First Nations researchers have discovered what they believe is a grizzly-bear highway of sorts: centuries-old paw prints worn deep into the mossy floor of the Pacific Coast rain forest.

“I suspect that these grizzly bear paths have been here as long as grizzly bears have been here,” said William Housty, director of Coastwatch, a scientific initiative led by the Heiltsuk First Nation.

The Heiltsuk people have been in the area for 9,000 years and Housty believes the grizzly bear roadways along the waterways go back generations.

“Grizzly bears are very similar to humans in the way that they nurture their young, and raise them to know the territory around them,” Housty said in an email from the woods.

Heiltsuk people have shared and maintained the same roadways over generations, creating a lasting connection between the Heiltsuk and grizzly bears, Housty said.

The society set up to stop the logging that threatened to clear cut the area and hurt salmon spawning spots along the Koeye River in the late 1990s.

Healthy salmon stock means the grizzly and black bears, wolves, mink, marten and bald eagles have a food supply.

When the logging stopped, the bear populations rebounded, he said.

Grizzly bears can weigh 363 kilograms (800 lbs.) and stand 2.4 meters (eight feet) on their hind legs, but Housty insists the grizzly bear study isn’t dangerous, as long as it’s done with respect and good sense.

“We do spend a lot of time in the wild, on foot with these bears, and have never once had a negative encounter with any of them,” Housty says.

“We have the greatest respect for the bears, and always make sure to let them know when we are in the area, and there seems to be a mutual respect from them as well. Never have we ever carried a fire arm when doing this study, however we did carry bear spray. But overall, I do not consider the study to be dangerous.”

He’s one of three technicians working on the study, but there are also youth and family camp programs operating in the same study area, meaning there can be from 40 to 60 people in the Koeye watershed at one time during the summer months.

He said his group are currently working with the neighbouring Kitasoo, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv First Nations, as well as with academic institutions such as the University of Victoria and Raincoast Conservation Society to take a more regional approach to this study.

In the study, individual grizzly bears were identified through DNA analysis of hair samples, obtained by putting salmon-scented bait inside wire snares to catch the grizzly hair.

As they got to know the grizzly bears, Housty said it became clear they have routines, much like humans.

“There are certain areas where grizzlies go to feed on salmon and berries, and if you spend enough time, you can pinpoint an exact time when they go to feed at the same time every day — usually at dusk and dawn,” Housty said. “They also do the same when it comes to berries. They work in cycles, and move to and fro within the watershed chasing berries and trickles of salmon that are coming in. It is very easy to predict when bears will be out and about.”

Tyrannosaurs hunted in packs?


This video is called Tyrannosaur Rivalry – Planet Dinosaur – Episode 3 – BBC One.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Researchers find first sign that tyrannosaurs hunted in packs

Discovery of three sets of dinosaur trackways in Canada reveals that predators were running together

Ian Sample, science editor

Wednesday 23 July 2014 19.36 BST

The collective noun is a terror of tyrannosaurs: a pack of the prehistoric predators, moving and hunting in numbers, for prey that faced the fight of its life.

That tyrannosaurs might have hunted in groups has long been debated by dinosaur experts, but with so little to go on, the prospect has remained firmly in the realm of speculation.

But researchers in Canada now claim to have the strongest evidence yet that the ancient beasts did move around in packs.

At a remote site in the country’s northeast, they uncovered the first known tyrannosaur trackways, apparently left by three animals going the same way at the same time.

Unlike single footprints which have been found before, tyrannosaur trackways are made up of multiple steps, revealing the length of stride and other features of the animal’s movement. What surprised the Canadian researchers was the discovery of multiple tracks running next to each other – with each beast evidently keeping a respectable distance from its neighbour.

Richard McCrea at the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre in British Columbia was tipped off about one trackway in October 2011 when a hunting guide working in the area emailed him some pictures. The guide had found one footprint that was already exposed and later uncovered a second heading in the same direction. McCrea made immediate plans to investigate before the winter blanketed the site with snow.

He arrived later the same month and found a third footprint that belonged to the same trackway under volcanic ash. But the real discovery came a year later, when the team returned and uncovered two more sets of tyrannosaur tracks running in the same south-easterly direction.

“We hit the jackpot,” said McCrea. “A single footprint is interesting, but a trackway gives you way more. This is about the strongest evidence you can get that these were gregarious animals. The only stronger evidence I can think of is going back in a time machine to watch them.”

The footprints were so well-preserved that even the contours of the animals’ skin were visible. “You start wondering what it would have been like to have been there when the tracks were made. The word is terror. I wouldn’t want to meet them in a dark alley at night,” McCrea said.

From the size of the footprints, the researchers put the beasts in their late 20s or early 30s – a venerable age for tyrannosaurs. The depth of the prints and other measurements suggest the tracks were left at the same time. They date back to nearly 70m years ago.

Close inspection of the trackways found that the tyrannosaur that left the first set of prints had a missing claw from its left foot, perhaps a battle injury. Details of the study are published in the journal Plos One.

During the expedition, McCrea’s team unearthed more prehistoric footprints from other animals, notably hadrosaurs, or duck-billed dinosaurs. Crucially, these were heading in all sorts of directions, evidence, says McCrea, that the tyrannosaurs chose to move as a pack, and were not simply forced into a group by the terrain.

“When you find three trackways together, going in same direction, it’s not necessarily good evidence for gregarious behaviour. They could be walking along a shore. But if all the other animals are moving in different directions, it means there is no geographical constraint, and it strengthens the case,” said McCrea.

Golden eagles in southern Scotland


This video from Canada says about itself:

16 August 2011

Birds of prey expert John Campbell teaches his nephew to put an identifying band on a golden eagle chick. Close up and personal views of the nest, its reluctant inhabitant, and the birds’ food sources. Spectacular views of Southern Alberta. The banding is part of a program to protect the species. The band goes on fairly tightly because the birds’ legs don’t grow further in diameter as the bird grows.

From Wildlife Extra:

Golden eagles could return to southern Scotland

Improvements to habitats in the south of Scotland could lead the area to become a stronghold for golden eagles.

A study carried out by the Scottish Natural Heritage showed that the area could potentially support up to 16 pairs, almost four times the present number.

At the moment there are thought to be no more than one or two pairs in Galloway and no more than three in the Scottish Borders.

Prof Des Thompson of SNH, who led the research, told the BBC “We would now like to see on-the-ground, practical work to improve the habitat for golden eagles in the south of Scotland.

“With habitat improvements, we could see connections with the small reintroduced population in Ireland. This would help both groups of eagles and could even help bolster the population in the north of England.”

Duncan Orr-Ewing, RSPB Scotland Head of Species and Land Management, said: “These magnificent birds should be given every opportunity to recover and reoccupy lost range, and must be protected in practice from the effects of human persecution, which remains a significant threat to this species, and in particular to this perilously small and isolated population.”

The total number of golden eagles in Scotland is 440 pairs, with most of the birds found in the Highlands and Islands.

Hedgehog fossil discovery in Canada


This video is called Tiny Hedgehog Fossil Could Answer Climate-Change Questions.

From Wildlife Extra:

Fossils of tiny, unknown, hedgehog found in Canada

Fossil remains of a tiny hedgehog, about two inches long, that lived 52 million years ago have been discovered in British Columbia by scientists from University of Colorado Boulder.

Named Silvacola acares, which means tiny forest dweller, it is perhaps the smallest hedgehog ever to have lived and is both a genus and species new to science.

“It is quite tiny and comparable in size to some of today’s shrews,” said lead author Jaelyn Eberle.

“We can’t say for sure it had prickly quills, but there are ancestral hedgehogs living in Europe about the same time that had bristly hair covering them, so it is plausible Silvacola did, too.”

The fossils were found in north-central British Columbia at a site known as Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park that was likely to have been a rainforest environment during the Early Eocene Epoch.

See also here. And here.

First ever beluga whales in Rhode Island, USA


This video from Canada is called Discover the Beluga Whales at Arctic Watch.

From ABC in the USA:

First ever beluga whale sighting in Rhode Island

Posted: Jul 03, 2014 4:28 PM Updated: Jul 03, 2014 4:28 PM

by Shannon O’Hara

The first ever sighting of beluga whales in Rhode Island were reportedly seen in Naragansett Bay and the Taunton River, according to oceanographer’s from URI.

These creatures normally reside in the arctic region and the closest beluga population to Rhode Island is up near Nova Scotia.

Marine scientist Robert Kenney of URI states that beluga whales are known to travel south, with previous sightings being in Long Island, New Jersey, and occasionally in Cape Cod, but never before in Rhode Island.

A local fisherman in Narragansett Bay first spotted the whale on June 15. Another whale was also spotted that same day in Assonet River, but is believed to be a different beluga. Additionally, a third whale was spotted near Gloucester, Massachusetts

These three whales are not believed to be in danger or unhealthy. Kenney says the whales are “probably getting healthier food than they would in the St. Lawrence, where most belugas carry very high loads of toxic chemicals from eating contaminated fish.”

In collaboration with the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals, a Quebec-based non-profit, Kenney is keeping a close monitoring of the whales.

Photos are being taken to investigate if they can match them to known beluga individuals in their photo catalog.

Whales under threat as US approves seismic oil prospecting in Atlantic: here.

British artists Francis Bacon and Henry Moore exhibited in Canada


This video from Canada is called ‘Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty': The Art.

By Lee Parsons in Canada:

Making sense of human suffering: Francis Bacon and Henry Moore — Terror and Beauty

21 June 2014

At the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, April 5-July 20, 2014

Two of the most prominent British artists of the modern period—a rare and unlikely pairing—are brought together in the exhibition Francis Bacon and Henry Moore — Terror and Beauty, currently at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto. The show features 136 works, including paintings, drawings, photographs and sculpture. The styles and sensibilities of these two artists present some illuminating contrasts within the traditions of figurative modern art, but it is their shared encounter with the traumas of the past century that lies at the center of this show.

Both artists developed unique approaches to the human figure, but along avenues that are virtually antithetical. With its distinctive solid and natural forms, the work of Henry Moore (1898-1986) suggests a redemptive and stabilizing response to the traumas of the 20th century. Francis Bacon (1909-1992), on the other hand, places his figures in alienated colors and settings, developing imagery that generally tends toward the tortured.

While there are formal parallels between the two, and inevitably some common ground, the question arises: why have two so divergent artists been joined in an exhibition of this sort here and now?

It seems, in fact, the AGO inherited the idea of exhibiting the two together, apparently inspired by the show last year at the University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, entitled “Flesh and Bone.” Although the two artists knew each other (Bacon reportedly once approached Moore for sculpture instruction), their association was slight and not in any way collaborative. Given their considerable reputation and stature, this exhibition may have begun as an act of shrewd marketing, but it proves to be the sharp differences between Bacon and Moore that makes the juxtaposition as engaging as it is.

Henry Moore, Three Fates (1941) © The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved, DACS / SODRAC (2013)

Henry Moore, Three Fates (1941) © The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved, DACS / SODRAC (2013)

Of particular interest and the focus of this show—and what perhaps unites these two artists more than anything else—were the artists’ historical experiences, particularly of the Second World War. Having lived through World War I, both Bacon and Moore resided in London during the Blitz (the period of sustained bombing by Nazi Germany, during which 40,000 civilians were killed) in 1941 and their work speaks to those experiences and the larger experience of the war as a whole.

With Moore this occurs quite directly, in a number of wartime drawings on display here, while Bacon’s work, although not so explicit, is clearly a reaction in part to those horrific events. His isolated figures appear in distortions of raw color and form, twisted beyond recognition, often with exposed wounds that evoke bodies torn in battle.

Henry Moore, in fact, became an official war artist and the AGO exhibition displays a moving collection of his nighttime drawings illustrating the bomb shelters that housed a besieged population, huddled and frightened in underground London. These are compassionately drawn images of the dark reality of that war, rendered in the softened lines and round volumes that strongly indicate his distinctive sculptural style.

Many of the sculptures in this exhibit will be familiar to Torontonians who have had access to the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre, the largest public collection of his work anywhere, housed in the AGO since 1974.

Redeeming art

Henry Moore, Reclining Figure (1951) © The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved, DACS / SODRAC (2013)

Henry Moore, Reclining Figure (1951) © The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved, DACS / SODRAC (2013)

Much of Moore’s sculpture depicts primordial forms of large bone-like structures such as “Reclining Figure” (1951). These rough-hewn recumbent figures appear timeless and monumental, giving this vein of work a relatively easy and comfortable feel, but leaving this viewer at least, on the whole largely disengaged. The plaster sculpture, “Atom Piece (Working Model for Nuclear Energy)” (1964-65), is conversely among his more disturbing works. A distinctly forbidding form, it seems to stand at once in awe and fear of human industry. But this is an exceptional piece for Moore who tended toward less difficult material, returning often to some of his favored subjects such as mother and child. He was nevertheless no stranger to difficulty, and in fact once stated, “I find in all the artists that I admire most a disturbing element, a distortion, giving evidence of a struggle.”

Henry Moore, Mother and Child (1953) © The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved, DACS / SODRAC (2013)

Henry Moore, Mother and Child (1953) © The Henry Moore Foundation. All Rights Reserved, DACS / SODRAC (2013)

Having grown up in a large and poor family in the coal mining district of West Yorkshire in northern England, Moore was not to begin his art studies until the age of 21, by which time he had already seen battle and been wounded during the first imperialist war. Though he soon established himself as an accomplished artist, for many years he had to rely on teaching art to make a living.

Like Bacon, and most of their generation, Moore developed under the influence of innovators in abstraction like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. In his early development, he was part of The Seven and Five Society, a grouping that from its inception following World War I opposed what was seen as the excessive experimentation of modern art, and which brought him into contact with such important artists as Barbara Hepworth. As Moore and others were increasingly exposed to avant-garde currents in the rest of Europe, the group moved away from traditional and toward a modernist sensibility.

Neither Moore nor Bacon was chiefly concerned with artistic innovation, but tended to take from the dominant currents of their time what was most appealing and useful. In the early 1930s Moore met a number of the Surrealists, including Alberto Giacometti, Hans Arp and Joan Miró, whose work had a great effect on him. While his association with that movement may have been brief, its influence and concern with unconscious imagery remained evident in his work throughout his career.

Moore pursued an unadventurous lifestyle, and was devoutly religious. In personality as well as artistically, in other words, he could hardly have been further from Bacon who was, to say the least, a more unconventional sort.

The problem of Bacon

I came into this show, the first exhibit of Francis Bacon in Canada, predisposed to a favorable attitude toward the painter. Having seen most of Bacon’s work only in reproductions, the real-life images were all the more striking and troubling and, along with a survey of his own observations, led me to a fresh consideration of his work.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Francis Bacon was raised in a wealthy military family and early on came into conflict with his father who regarded him as weak, and was horrified by his evident homosexuality. Forced from the family home, he became a social outsider, bouncing from one menial job to another across Europe.

Francis Bacon, Study for Portrait VI (1953) © Estate of Francis Bacon / SODRAC (2013)

Francis Bacon, Study for Portrait VI (1953) © Estate of Francis Bacon / SODRAC (2013)

With little formal training, Bacon began his career as an interior and furniture designer. He gained early acclaim for his painting “Crucifixion” in 1933. Some of his most powerful images deal with icons of the Catholic Church, including “Study for Portrait VI” (1953), one of a series of terrifying paintings he did based on Velasquez’ portrait of Pope Innocent X.

Francis Bacon, Lying Figure in a Mirror (1971) © Estate of Francis Bacon / SODRAC (2013)

Francis Bacon, Lying Figure in a Mirror (1971) © Estate of Francis Bacon / SODRAC (2013)

Influenced by such diverse sources as Sergei Eisenstein’s silent film Battleship Potemkin (1925) and an old reference book on diseases of the mouth, Bacon was attracted to the grimmer side of social life as well. An inveterate gambler and drinker, his relationships were reputedly conflicted and George Dyer, his partner of many years and the subject of a number of portraits, ultimately took his own life.

It should be noted that one of Bacon’s most important artistic contacts and influences was Lucian Freud (1922-2011), one of the great painters of our time. Along with Moore, these artists persisted in representing the human figure in their work, through the post-war period when much of the art world was looking to higher abstraction as more or less the only way forward.

A painting such as Bacon’s “Lying Figure in a Mirror” (1971) presents an image of inchoate flesh, seductive in flowing form and color, but cruelly contained by geometric frames (and the mirror itself). The painting’s contrasts create a tension that in some real manner reflects the extremes of bottomless desire and severe repression.

Referring to his preoccupation with viscera and tortured forms, Bacon famously countered his critics by saying, “I lived through the revolutionary Irish movement, Sinn Fein and the wars, Hiroshima, Hitler and the death camps and daily violence that I’ve experienced all my life. And after that they want me to paint bunches of pink flowers.”

Francis Bacon, Two Figures in a Room (1959) © Estate of Francis Bacon / SODRAC (2013)

Francis Bacon, Two Figures in a Room (1959) © Estate of Francis Bacon / SODRAC (2013)

The issues raised by Bacon’s life and work are not easily resolved. This may be the strength of his work, that it articulates the contradictions of a striving for beauty in a world that would distort and subvert all our finest impulses. Yet, the more I learned about Bacon and his outlook and looked at his paintings, the more I came to reassess the value I had hitherto placed on him.

The difficulty I have is that Bacon’s response to human tragedy is more or less passive, uncritical, and could be interpreted almost as approving of things as they are. Indeed some of his pronouncements could well be taken as a fatalistic acceptance of the horrors he has witnessed. “I’m not upset by the fact that people do suffer, because I think the suffering of people and the differences between people are what have made great art, and not egalitarianism.”

Artists in the world

In any event, the careers and output of Bacon and Moore don’t allow for simple responses, much less prescriptions. These were both figures who took art and the world seriously. A discussion of concerns about their work, one hopes, will promote a more critical consideration of the relationship of art and artists to their audience, to society and to history—especially at a time when the art world is largely dominated by concerns with money and celebrity. (Bacon, for example, is probably best known at present because his painting, “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” (1969), set a record in 2013 as the most expensive art work ever auctioned—$142 million.)

I would have to say that, on balance, I do not find the bulk of the work of either Bacon or Moore altogether satisfying. In the most general sense, no doubt, the efforts of both these artists are vital reflections of and responses to a world convulsed by conflict and suffering. They both grappled with the cataclysms of their time, yet their work, in differing ways, strikes me as a turning inward, in one case for a sort of spiritual solace, in the other as merely a means of painful self-exploration.

Moore’s work is said to be life-affirming, and to a certain extent it is, while Bacon casts a harsh light on human torment. Both, in one way or another, strive for a means of making sense of their time, while perhaps accommodating themselves to it.

However, whatever their individual weaknesses, a great portion of the artists’ difficulty ultimately originates in objective problems of social development in the 20th century. The “unsatisfying” element, in the end, was the delay in the social revolution, which opened the door to the horrors of war and fascism and also generated disappointment and pessimism among the artists and intellectuals. These obstacles helped block Bacon and Moore from more directly and urgently illuminating the human situation.