Cougars of Wyoming, USA on the Internet


This video is called Mountain lion (Felis concolor).

From Wildlife Extra:

Wild American cougars to become internet stars

Panthera, a wild cat conservation organisation, has launched The Cougar Channel – an interactive website that is uncovering the secret lives of the ‘American lion’ by sharing never-before-seen footage and photographs with the world.

The cougar channel provides an intimate glimpse into the day-to-day encounters, threats and behaviours of the individual cougars monitored through Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project in northwestern Wyoming. Placing cameras in natal dens and on cougar kills, Panthera’s scientists have captured footage of kittens playing and nursing; cougar families feeding, grooming and curiously inspecting Panthera’s cameras; and Panthera’s scientists tracking and collaring cougars to reveal how to better protect the species.

Science Director for Panthera’s Puma and Jaguar Programs, Dr. Mark Elbroch, said: “Our goal is to provide a fascinating and engaging digital experience that will help demystify this elusive and often misunderstood big cat and spark interest in preserving the species.

Cougars play a critical role in the landscapes they occupy, so we are thrilled to give these wild cats the spotlight they deserve. Finally, people can see the natural behaviors and challenges cougars face…and the conservation efforts that are crucial to ensuring their survival.”

Often referred to as mountain lions, panthers, or pumas, cougars have the largest geographic range of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, from Alaska to the southern tip of Chile, yet little is known about the species. Today, the cougar is often mischaracterized as a vicious, solitary predator, leading to persecution across its range.

Dr. Howard Quigley, Director of Panthera’s Puma Program and Executive Director of Panthera’s Jaguar Program, shared, “The GPS collars, remote cameras and other research methods we are utilizing aren’t just helping us collect this fascinating footage – they enable us to track cougar movements, identify dens and monitor kittens from an early age. These data are expanding our scientific understanding of the species’ ecology, and ultimately allowing our scientists to better preserve the future of the wild cougar.”

Mysterious whale beached in Massachusetts, USA


This 26 July 2015 video is called Sowerby’s beaked whale: Reclusive deep-water whale washes up on US beach.

From CNN in the USA:

Beached beaked whale has marine biologists scratching their heads

By Lorenzo Ferrigno and Pilar Melendez, CNN

Updated 2154 GMT (0454 HKT) July 26, 2015

The carcass of a deep-sea beaked whale found washed up on a Plymouth, Massachusetts, beach is so rare that it has marine experts confounded: What is its exact species, and how did it get to shore?

The 17-foot toothed female whale, which weighs nearly 1 ton and has dark purplish skin with a long slender snout, was found washed up on a stone jetty.

It is believed to be a Sowerby’s beaked whale, but its type is so rarely seen that New England Aquarium biologists “have been conferring to determine the exact species,” aquarium officials said in a statement released Saturday.

“The beaked whale carcass is fairly fresh and in good condition,” the statement said. “At first inspection, the long, streamlined whale did not have any obvious entanglement gear or scars or obvious trauma from a vessel strike.”

The deep diving Sowerby’s whales are usually found on the continental shelf, hundreds of miles out to sea, the statement said.

Marine biologists with the New England Aquarium performed an animal autopsy Saturday at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and are investigating what caused the whale to wash ashore, according to the statement.

An employee with Plymouth Marine and Environmental Affairs staff called in the whale at 10 a.m. Friday, Plymouth harbormaster Chad Hunter told CNN.

“The best way to describe it, it looked like a dolphin,” Hunter said. “But much bigger.”

Plymouth natural resource officers anchored it to avoid it washing out, he said. Because of the whale’s enormity, the staff had to wait until high tide, around 5 p.m. Friday evening, to remove the carcass from the rocks.

The whale was then towed it to the pier and lifted it by crane onto an aquarium trailer, Hunter said.

“Deep diving whales you generally don’t see near the coast, so it is very unique for it to wash up on the beach,” Hunter said. “We have had a number of whales and dolphins end up on shore over the years, but never this species to my knowledge.”

New England Aquarium staff last handled a beaked whale in 2006 in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution could not be reached for comment or necropsy results.

Baby owl in Colorado, USA


This video from Colorado in the USA says about itself:

Boulder County Sheriff’s Deputies meet their feathery match!

Our Sheriff’s Office deputies were driving near a campground on July 23 [2015] when they were stopped in their tracks by this young Northern Saw Whet Owl. After some curious head twisting (on both sides) it safely flew away. Watch the deputy have a conversation with the baby owl as it clicks back to her.

See also here.

Good Iberian lynx news from Spain


This video is called Spain’s Last Lynx – Nature Documentary.

From the BBC:

Iberian lynx returns to Spain from verge of extinction

25 July 2015

An intense conservation campaign has brought the Iberian lynx back to the south of Spain from the verge of extinction barely 10 years ago, Guy Hedgecoe reports from Spain.

At the La Olivilla lynx breeding centre in Santa Elena, in southern Spain, a group of conservationists are in an office, gathered around a TV monitor.

On it they watch an Iberian lynx cub learn to hunt by playing with a domestic rabbit in one of the centre’s compounds. The lynx, the size of a small cat, is only a few weeks old but already has the sharply pointed ears and mottled fur that make the species so recognisable.

It swipes playfully at the rabbit with its paws, but still has a long way to go before it graduates to killing its own prey.

When it does, it will probably be released into the wild, following in the tracks of many other animals born in captivity here.

Just over a decade ago, the Iberian lynx, also known as Lynx pardinus, was on the verge of extinction, with only 90 animals registered, in the Andujar and Donana areas of southern Spain.

‘Saving the species’

But an intense campaign over recent years has brought it back from the brink, with 327 lynxes believed to be roaming southern, central and western Spain, as well as parts of Portugal, last year.

“We’re on the way to saving the species,” says Miguel Simon, director of the Iberlince lynx conservation programme.

“Losing this unique natural treasure would have been as bad for us as losing the Great Mosque in Cordoba or the Alhambra in Granada.”

In June, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) improved the status of the Iberian lynx from “critically endangered” to “endangered”. In its appraisal, the organisation saw the mammal’s recovery as “excellent proof that conservation really works“.

Around 140 specimens have been released into the wild, with the Iberian wildcat programme borrowing reintroduction techniques used by German conservationists.

Not all good news

But this success has not been cheap. Between 2002 and 2018, the programme will have received €69m (£49m; $76m) in funding, mainly from the European Union.

Much of that money has gone into three breeding centres in Spain, including in Santa Elena and one in Portugal.

Teresa del Rey Wamba, a veterinarian who works on the conservation programme in southern Spain, says that prior to the animal’s recent comeback, a lack of appropriate prey was a major problem, as was illegal hunting.

Clamping down on poaching and encouraging the growth of rabbit populations – the lynx’s favoured food – were therefore key, with private landowners, local governments and hunting federations all supporting the programme.

But it is not all good news. Last year, 22 lynxes were killed by vehicles on Spanish roads.

Miguel Simon says that while this is a problem, it also reflects how the lynxes’ movement has increased as their numbers have risen.

His team has overseen the installation of underground tunnels, custom-built for the animals to cross busy roads, and more are planned.

Of greater concern however is a recent outbreak across southern Europe of rabbit haemorrhagic disease, a highly contagious virus that has been killing off the lynxes’ staple diet since 2011 and reducing their reproductive rate.

In light of this threat, the IUCN decision to take the lynx off the “critically endangered” list was incorrect, according to Emilio Virgos, a lynx expert at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

“If all the data we have so far about how lynxes live and survive and reproduce are correct, and we have no reason to think otherwise, the number of lynxes… will drop drastically,” he says of the outlook for the next few years.

He warns that extinction is still a possibility within decades.

While Mr Simon is worried about the rabbit virus, he describes such forecasts as “alarmist” and points to an emergency plan to boost rabbit numbers. Its success, he says, will depend in great part on continued funding.

“The battle for conservation of the lynx is never-ending,” he says.

What is a lynx?

A medium-sized cat which lives in the wild
There are four different species – Eurasian, Iberian, Canada and Bobcat
The Eurasian lynx is the biggest – about 60cm tall – roughly the same size as a Labrador
The Iberian lynx is one of the rarest smaller wildcats in the world – mainly found in parts of Spain and Portugal
The Bobcat is found in North America while the Canada lynx lives in Canada and Alaska
Most lynxes are listed as threatened or endangered and are prized by poachers for their fur
Lynxes are usually only active at night and hunt deer, rabbits and hares for food

Great snipes’ great migration, study


This great snipe video was ‘Filmed on the night in Lapponia Sweden in June 2010′.

From Biology Letters:

Great flights by great snipes: long and fast non-stop migration over benign habitats

Raymond H. G. Klaassen, Thomas Alerstam, Peter Carlsson, James W. Fox, Åke Lindström

25 May 2011

Abstract

Migratory land birds perform extreme endurance flights when crossing ecological barriers, such as deserts, oceans and ice-caps. When travelling over benign areas, birds are expected to migrate by shorter flight steps, since carrying the heavy fuel loads needed for long non-stop flights comes at considerable cost. Here, we show that great snipes Gallinago media made long and fast non-stop flights (4300–6800 km in 48–96 h), not only over deserts and seas but also over wide areas of suitable habitats, which represents a previously unknown migration strategy among land birds.

Furthermore, the great snipes achieved very high ground speeds (15–27 m s−1), which was not an effect of strong tailwind support, and we know of no other animal that travels this rapidly over such a long distance. Our results demonstrate that some migratory birds are prepared to accept extreme costs of strenuous exercise and large fuel loads, even when stopover sites are available along the route and there is little tailwind assistance. A strategy of storing a lot of energy before departure, even if migration is over benign habitats, may be advantageous owing to differential conditions of fuel deposition, predation or infection risk along the migration route.

Puffins’ and guillemots’ eyes, new research


This 2009 video says about itself:

In Iceland‘s remote Westman Islands, warming weather is threatening a beloved mascot: the Atlantic puffin.

From Ibis, international journal of avian science:

The visual fields of Common Guillemot Uria aalge and Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica: foraging, vigilance and collision vulnerability

Graham R. Martin and Sarah Wanless

Summary

Significant differences in avian visual fields are found between closely related species that differ in their foraging technique. We report marked differences in the visual fields of two auk species.

In air, Common Guillemots Uria aalge have relatively narrow binocular fields typical of those found in non-passerine predatory birds. Atlantic Puffins Fratercula arctica have much broader binocular fields similar to those that have hitherto been recorded in passerines and in a penguin.

In water, visual fields narrow considerably and binocularity in the direction of the bill is probably abolished in both auk species. Although perceptual challenges associated with foraging are similar in both species during the breeding season when they are piscivorous, Puffins (but not Guillemots) face more exacting perceptual challenges when foraging at other times when they take a high proportion of small invertebrate prey.

Capturing this prey probably requires more accurate, visually-guided bill-placement and we argue that this is met by the Puffin‘s broader binocular field, which is retained upon immersion; its upward orientation may enable prey to be seen in silhouette. These visual field configurations have potentially important consequences that render these birds vulnerable to collision with human artefacts underwater, but not in air. They also have consequences for vigilance behaviour.