Golden eagles in Swedish winter, video


This video shows two golden eagles in a Swedish winter, feeding on dead red foxes.

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London Grenfell Tower disaster, Conservative politicians to blame


London, England firefighters during a minute's silence for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Grenfell residents and firefighters were let down by the system

GRENFELL Tower survivor Rukayetu Mamudu is a thousand times right to condemn the system that let down firefighters who followed instructions, telling residents to remain indoors during the fire.

“People were trusting the firefighters’ words. And the firefighters relied on the system. The system should never have deceived them. The system let them down”, she said.

The instructions were based on the belief that each flat was a concrete box, with secure fire doors and windows, and that a fire in a single flat could be isolated, contained and extinguished.

Firefighters were not to know that the local Tory council, which owned the tower, and its arm’s-length management organisation (almo), had prejudiced the safety of the building and its residents through a botched refurbishment.

Far from the doors and windows being fire-resistant, they were compromised through replacement by inferior products.

The almo fitted panels as adornments to the outside of the tower, which, far from resisting the blaze, helped conduct it at high speed up and around the tower.

The council authorised a cheaper version of the panels, justifying Fire Brigades Union leader Matt Wrack’s charge that “the government and local council gave priority to saving money over protecting people.”

That reality emerged clearly in the days after the disaster when local people began questioning what had gone wrong.

Yet there has been an insidious campaign in recent weeks to blame firefighters for telling residents to follow guidance they had been given, ignoring the reality that they had no reason to do otherwise.

Alarm bells rang when Scotland Yard announced a police investigation into the “remain indoors” advice, suggesting that individual fire service members could be at risk of prosecution.

Both firefighters and residents were betrayed by decisions taken by penny-pinching politicians to skimp on safety measures and to compound their crime by failing to check how these economies had affected the fire safety of Grenfell.

Rigorous checking of panelling, rather than acceptance of advertisers’ claims, could have laid bare the reality of a tragedy waiting to happen and prevented it from so doing.

Mamudu’s questions about safety certification and standards for accommodation intended for poor people must be answered by the current inquiry and honoured by the political authorities.

Residents, firefighters and other emergency services personnel went through hell at Grenfell. Their hell is ongoing.

Questions cannot be fended off with flannel nor recommendations confined to generalities about everyone needing to learn lessons. Answers are needed that guarantee no repeat of Grenfell.

Sea urchins seeing with their feet


This 2016 video says about itself:

Conceived in the open sea, tiny spaceship-shaped sea urchin larvae search the vast ocean to find a home. After this incredible odyssey, they undergo one of the most remarkable transformations in nature.

From Lund University in Sweden:

Sea urchins see with their feet

June 12, 2018

Sea urchins lack eyes, but can see with their tentacle-like tube feet instead, previous research has indicated. Now, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have tested their vision in a new study, and shown that while sea urchins have fairly low resolution vision — it is good enough to fulfill their basic needs.

Sea urchins are currently the only animals that have been shown to see without having eyes. They see using light-sensitive cells in their tube feet, which resemble tentacles and, like the spines, are all over the body. You could say that the entire sea urchin is one single compound eye”, says John Kirwan, who conducted the study as a part of his doctoral thesis, together with colleagues at Lund University.

The tube feet have other functions besides registering light. They are used for feeding and in some species are used by the sea urchin for locomotion. Others are used to attach to surfaces or as levers to correct its position when upside down.

John Kirwan studied the sea urchin species Diadema africanum. The experiments placed the animals in water inside strongly illuminated cylinders that had various dark images on the walls.

“Ordinarily, sea urchins move towards dark areas in order to seek cover. When I notice that they react to certain sizes of images but not to others, I get a measurement of their visual acuity”, explains John Kirwan.

To obtain further data, he carried out another experiment in which he showed rapidly growing figures above the sea urchins, as a way of conjuring up an image of an approaching predator. He then registered how large the figures had to be before the sea urchins would defend themselves by directing their spines towards the shadow above.

The acuity of vision was calculated using X-ray tomography and electron microscopy.

John Kirwan’s calculations show that of the 360 degrees surrounding the sea urchin an object must take up between 30 and 70 degrees for the sea urchin to see it. Humans only need an object to take up 0.02 degrees in order to detect it, making it clear that their eyesight is poor in comparison with human eyesight.

“However, this is still sufficient for the animal’s needs and behaviour. After all, it’s hardly poor eyesight for an animal with no eyes”, John Kirwan concludes.

London Grenfell Tower disaster, one year commemoration 14 June


Yaks, rosefinches, snow and blue sheep in China


After 7 April 2018 came 8 April 2018. We were in the Wolong Balangshan mountains in China. This is a BBC video about Temminck’s tragopan. A bird species which we might have seen there, but did not see.

This video is about another animal species which we might have seen, but didn’t.

The video says about itself:

6 November 2017

The Wolong National Nature Reserve in southwest China’s Sichuan Province spotted 26 snow leopards.

Yaks, 8 April 2018

We did see these yaks when we came above 3,000 meter.

Snow, 8 April 2018

The higher we went, the more snow we saw.

Snowy mountains, 8 April 2018

Not only on the mountain tops further away …

Snow, on 8 April 2018

… but also close to us.

Then, on a slope above us, a beautiful male Chinese monal.

A raven.

Dark-breasted rosefinch

A bit further, in the snow, this male dark-breasted rosefinch.

Yellow-billed choughs flying.

Plain mountain finch, 8 april 2018

We saw this plain mountain-finch.

Alpine accentor, 8 April 2018

A bit further, this Alpine accentor.

Blue sheep, 8 April 2018

And then, above us, this blue sheep. Snow leopards eat blue sheep. So, though we did not see snow leopards, we did see wildlife living in their biotope.

Stay tuned, as there will be more on the birds of the mountains above Wolong!

Wildlife and camera traps


This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

6 June 2018

Where to learn about biodiversity better than in nature itself? Associate professor Thijs Bosker and Leiden University College student Sebastiaan Grosscurt talk about their teaching and research project that involves the use of camera traps.