Rare mushroom discovery in the Netherlands


This video from France is called Chamaemyces fracidus. English Text.

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society on Wednesday, August 27th, 2014:

In the dunes of Schoorl is the very rare Chamaemyces fracidus mushroom has been found. The species still lives only at six places in the Netherlands. The mushroom was in the verge of a seashell cycle track. The dunes of Schoorl have a low lime content, but thanks to the calcareous seashell path it can grow here.

French government admits arming Syrian jihadists


This video says about itself:

Syria – Who are Jabhat al-Nusra? – Truthloader

23 May 2013

A lot of the graphic footage coming out of Syria has been associated with extremist opposition groups but the name that has cropped up the most is Jabhat al-Nusra. But who are the secretive jihadists? Where do they come from and what links to they have with al Qaeda, Iraq and what have they got to do with The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham?

By Pierre Mabut in France:

France admits it directly supplied arms to Syrian “rebels”

27 August 2014

President François Hollande confirmed in a Le Monde interview on August 19 that France has been directly supplying arms to the “rebels” of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in its proxy war to remove the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. This came ahead of the recent US decision to intervene militarily in Syria, ostensibly to crush the Islamic State (IS) opposition militia operating in Iraq and Syria.

French imperialism has been arming Syrian Islamist opposition forces since at least the spring of 2013. According to Le Monde, it provided weapons including 12.7-mm machine guns, rocket launchers, body armour and communications equipment—but “ nothing”, according to a Le Monde source, “which ‘could have been turned against us’ such as explosives”. The same weapons are also being shipped to the Peshmerga Kurdish militias in northern Iraq to stop the progress of the IS takeover, a direct product of the US war in Iraq. …

The IS and large parts of the FSA are composed of Islamist groups using terror bombings and mass killings to conduct a brutal civil war that left nearly 190,000 dead and millions of refugees. Indeed, it is precisely these crimes that Washington is now cynically exploiting to claim it has to intervene in Iraq and Syria in order to crush the IS.

Hollande turned reality on its head, claiming the growth of the IS in Syria and its sectarian wars was due to the NATO powers’ decision not to go to war with Assad.

“The international community carries a heavy responsibility in what is taking place in Syria, If two years ago there had been action to install a transition, we would not have had the Islamic State. If one year ago, there had been a proportionate reaction of the great powers to the use [by al-Assad] of chemical weapons, we would not be faced with this terrible choice between a dictator and a terrorist group,” he said.

Indeed, President Hollande and the US bear a “heavy responsibility”, but it is for fomenting the civil war, using reactionary jihadist forces such as the FSA and IS as proxies.

The lawlessness of Hollande’s PS government was witnessed in August 2013, when it clamoured for the bombing of Syria for regime change over a threatened Russian veto in the UN Security Council. War was averted at the last minute, due to deep splits in the foreign policy establishment and broad popular opposition to the war reflected in a vote against war in the British parliament—much to the chagrin of Hollande’s government, which was prepared to risk provoking a war with Russia and Iran.

The growth of the jihadist forces in Syria is the direct result of the arming and financing by the CIA, France and the Gulf monarchies as proxy forces to overthrow Assad. Substantial sections of the FSA, which Hollande cynically called “democratic,” have defected to the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front.

France has openly stoked the flames of civil war ever since 2012, when Hollande recognised the Syrian National Coalition—on which the FSA sits, together with representatives of various Islamist groups and liberal opponents of Assad—as Syria’s government. Hollande’s PS government is one of the most bellicose warmongers on the planet—launching wars in Mali and the Central African Republic in a drive to re-colonise Africa, and backing Washington and Berlin in their proxy war with Russia over Ukraine.

Harper to escalate Canadian military intervention in Iraq: here.

How the Islamic State pushed Al-Qaida to Israel’s doorstep: here.

What horses’ ears and eyes say, new research


This video from France says about itself:

Ethology – The study of Animal Behavior

A woman lives out her dream by working with horses and studying their behavior in a natural environment in order to become more connected to these majestic animals.

From Current Biology:

4 August 2014

The eyes and ears are visual indicators of attention in domestic horses

Jennifer Wathan, Karen McCombe

Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research, School of Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton, BN1 9QH, UK

Summary

Sensitivity to the attentional states of others has adaptive advantages, and in social animals, attending to others is important for predator detection, as well as a pre-requisite for normal social functioning and more complex socio-cognitive abilities. Despite widespread interest in how social species perceive attention in others, studies of non-human animals have been inconclusive about the detailed cues involved.

Previous work has focused on head and eye direction, overlooking the fact that many mammals have obvious and mobile ears that could act as a visual cue to attention. Here we report that horses use the head orientation of a conspecific to locate food, but that this ability is disrupted when parts of the face (the eyes and ears) are covered up with naturalistic masks. The ability to correctly judge attention also interacted with the identity of the model horse, suggesting that individual differences in facial features may influence the salience of cues. Our results indicate that a combination of head orientation with facial expression, specifically involving both the eyes and ears, is necessary for communicating social attention. These findings emphasise that in order to understand how attention is communicated in non-human animals, it is essential to consider a broad range of cues.

Purple emperor butterflies in England


This is a video about a purple emperor butterfly feeding in France.

By Peter Frost in England:

Emperor brought down to earth by shrimp paste

Friday 8th August 2014

Peter Frost reveals a secret ritual designed to enhance the survival chances of the rarest of butterflies

At the end of July and for the early days of August something really unusual is happening in Fermyn Woods in the Rockingham Forest between Corby and Kettering in Northamptonshire.

Beneath the high trees, members of a quaintly named organisation called the Purple Empire arrange a special breakfast for some exotic and beautiful inhabitants.

Chief item on the menu will be shrimp paste and members of the Empire have scoured oriental supermarkets and food shops seeking out the most pungent and malodorous varieties.

So who is guest of honour at this morning feast? Why no one less than Britain’s second largest, and most spectacular butterfly — the aptly named Purple Emperor (Apatura iris). Only male butterflies are invited to the feast.

Spectacular the emperor might be, but it is also spectacularly difficult to observe. The colourful males flit high in the tree tops waiting to lure a dull female virgin to mate.

Generations of amateur but skilful lepidopterists have discovered the gloriously coloured male butterflies can be lured down, into camera range by, of all things, smelly and tasty shrimp paste.

There are several reasons why the Fermyn Woods are one of the best places to see this spectacular insect.

The woods are marshy and full of Goat Willow (Salix caprea) and Grey Willow (Salix cinerea) trees, the favourite food plants of the purple emperor’s caterpillars.

The other reason is the pioneering work by one of our greatest countryside writers and illustrators, Denys Watkins-Pitchford, who wrote wonderfully evocative country and children’s books under the pen-name BB.

Like many other wildlife writers BB had realised the huge dangers of excessive usage of DDT and other insecticide sprays so common in the ’60s and ’70s.

He realised they were destroying species like the purple emperor as well as other insects, birds and animals further up the food chain.

Watkins-Pitchford had another far more intensely personal reason for his attitude to agricultural chemical abuse.

In 1974 his wife Cecily became unwell after working in their garden while a farmer was spraying his fields next door. She died a few weeks later.

In the very garden the couple had shared the writer built huge muslin cages where he bred the purple emperor, nicknamed “His Majesty” by butterfly fans. He bought the species back from the edge of extinction.

A male emperor is without doubt one of the most elegant of all our butterflies. From some angles the wings look black with white bands — then as the sunlight catches the wing scales they light up with an amazing regal purple sheen.

The female is a deep brown and does not have any of the showy colour of the male.

If you want to spot an emperor the best time is early morning or in late afternoon. It is then that the males will occasionally flutter down to feed on animal dung, carrion, or even that tempting shrimp paste. This extra diet provides the emperor with much needed salts and minerals.

Males will sometimes spend over an hour feeding in the same place.

They are often found in woodland car parks landing on wet muddy cars.

Strangely they also enjoy sweaty humans and can often land on thrilled watchers to drink beads of salty perspiration.

Most of the time, however, they will be out of sight high in tree canopy feeding on aphid honeydew.

The males tend to congregate in very large oak trees they have used for generations. From such a high point, perhaps on the top of a hill, the males wait to pounce on passing females.

The males vying for the best and highest perches battle it out with purple wings flashing in the sun. It is a wildlife spectacular you will never forget.

When a dowdy virgin female flits by the pair fly off and settle high in the canopy to mate.

Mating over, she flies down to earth while he returns to his high emperor’s throne ready for another chance to pass on his DNA.

Coots in France studied


This video is about Eurasian coots in Sweden.

From Ringing & Migration, Volume 29, Issue 1, 2014:

Common but poorly known: information derived from 32 years of ringing Coot Fulica atra in the Camargue, southern France

Abstract

Rallidae are common and widespread, yet relatively poorly studied. We analysed the ringing data from more than 8,000 Common Coot Fulica atra, accumulated between 1950 and 1982 in Camargue, southern France, in terms of the dynamics of their biometrics throughout the year, migratory pathways and annual survival rate. Mean monthly body mass and wing length indicate seasonal differences, with birds captured in autumn and winter being heavier and larger than those captured in spring and summer.

The temporal and spatial distribution across Europe of more than 950 ring recoveries indicates a mixing of sedentary and migratory birds. Capture–recapture analysis indicated lower annual survival rates during the year after ringing, and greater survival rates in adults and in males. Mean survival rate across sex and age classes greater than one year after ringing was 55%. This is somewhat lower than found by other studies, and may be influenced by Coot hunting in the Camargue, especially during the years of this study.