Grizzly bears in Washington state, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Grizzly Bears in North Cascades: Recovering an Icon

20 March 2015

North Cascades National Park, considered the “wild nearby” for its incredible scenery and wildlife, is also at the center of an opportunity being led by the National Park Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and U.S. Forest Service to restore a grizzly bear population.

Recovering these rare bears to the North Cascades Ecosystem, an area of nearly 10,000 square miles of protected public land, including the national park, would be a gift of the natural world to ours and future generations. It also provides a rare opportunity to recover all of the large native wildlife that were present prior to the turn of the 19th century.

Grizzly bears, of which less than twenty likely remain in the North Cascades Ecosystem, have long been an important cultural symbol for local Native American tribes, as well as playing an important ecological role for the health of the environment and other animal species.

Join the National Parks Conservation Association and special guests, including TV host and bear specialist Chris Morgan, to learn more about grizzly bears, their importance to creating and maintaining healthy ecosystems, the history leading up to the current public process, and how you can get involved.

Panelists:
• Bill Gaines, Ph.D., Wildlife Ecologist and Director of the Washington Conservation Science Institute. Gaines has been involved in the grizzly bear recovery efforts in the North Cascades for the past 25 years.

• Chris Morgan, Ecologist, bear specialist, author, filmmaker and TV host. Chris has spent more than 20 years working as a wildlife researcher, wilderness guide, and environmental educator on every continent where bears exist.

• Joe Scott, International Conservation Director, Conservation Northwest

• Rob Smith, Northwest Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association

Big Garden Birdwatch in Britain results


This video from Britain is called RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2015.

From the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Britain:

The results are in and over half a million of you took part to count more than 8.5 million birds.

With more than 585,000 pairs of eyes spending an hour counting birds over the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend the results showed an increase in most of the top 20 birds compared with 2014 results.

However the picture is more complicated when looked at in detail. Our finches; chaffinch, goldfinch and greenfinch were all down on last year. This is likely to be because of a good seed crop following a productive summer out in the countryside taking these birds away from our gardens.

So, there aren’t any new alarm bells ringing about finches, but this does continue a long running decline in greenfinch numbers of 53 percent since 1979. This long term drop is likely due to Trichomonosis a disease which can be contracted at garden feeding stations – so it’s good to clean them every now and then.

We also had fewer of our charismatic winter migrants like redwing and waxwing this year, most likely because conditions were good on the continent over winter and they were quite happy to stay there.

Real winners included the wren which was reported double the number of times compared to last year. Blackbird also rose to claim the number three spot this year, with sightings in more than 90 percent of UK gardens. The much loved robin also did well with sightings of the red-breast at their highest level per garden since 2011. These birds will come into gardens during cold conditions and keep coming back if they find a reliable source.

Results

To see the full results, check out our new infographic.

Butterflies re-emerging in Dutch spring


This video is called Astonishing European Butterflies and Moths.

Translated from the Dutch butterfly foundation today:

Most of the butterflies that in recent weeks have been reported to Waarneming.nl and Telmee had wintered as butterflies and have emerged on the first sunny spring days. The brimstone is the most reported species (2000), followed by small tortoiseshell (1700), peacock butterfly (330), red admiral (290) and comma (180).

And now, species which had wintered while in the pupa stage have started emerging as well.

Rare albino mushroom discovery in the Netherlands


Albino larch bolete, photo by Peter-Jan Keizer

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

In September last year Peter-Jan Keizer discovered an albino form of the larch bolete fungus on the site of the former Soesterberg military airbase. There, larch boletes had been found before. Then, Mr Keizer saw the at first sight unknown mushroom. After investigation it turned out to be an albino mushroom. Keizer has sometimes previously found albino mushrooms, but these observations remain extremely rare.

Big Triassic amphibian fossil discovery in Portugal


This video says about itself:

24 March 2015

Excavation in Portugal of giant Triassic fossil amphibian Metoposaurus algarvensis – Paleontology dig.

From Associated Press:

Researchers Find Fossil of ‘Super Salamander’ Species

LONDON — Mar 24, 2015, 11:01 AM ET

Fossil remains of a previously unknown species of a crocodile-like “super salamander” that grew as long as a small car and was a top predator more than 200 million years ago have been found in southern Portugal, researchers announced Tuesday.

The species grew up to two meters (six feet) in length and lived in lakes and rivers, University of Edinburgh researchers said.

The team said the species, given the name Metoposaurus algarvensis, was part of a wider group of primitive amphibians that were widespread at the time but became extinct. They are the ancestors of modern amphibians such as frogs, and are believed by paleontologists to have lived at the same time the dinosaurs began their dominance.

Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, who led the study, said the new species, which had hundreds of sharp teeth, is “weird compared to anything today.”

It was at the top of the food chain, feeding mainly on fish, but it was also a danger for newly appeared dinosaurs and mammals that strayed too near the water, Brusatte said.

The team says the find establishes that this group of amphibians lived in a more diverse geographic area than had been thought.

Andrew Milner, an expert on early amphibians at the Natural History Museum in London who was not involved in the study, said the find “is another piece of the picture.” The Portuguese site has “very good potential to give us more and different types of animal” from the Upper Triassic period, he added.

The dig in Portugal began in 2009 and took several years. The “super salamander” bones were uncovered in a half-meter thick layer of rock in a hillside that is “chock-full” of bones, Brusatte said. The team hopes to raise funds to continue excavating the site.

See also here.

The scientific description of this newly discovered species is here.

Why diving gannets don’t break their necks


This video says about itself:

7 March 2015

How can seabirds dive into the water at 55 MPH without breaking their necks? Studying actual birds, 3D printed replicas, and simple weighted models entering water, researchers at Virginia Tech and the Smithsonian Institution found that northern gannets dive just slowly enough to prevent their necks from buckling. More information here. (Video courtesy Sunny Jung, Virginia Tech, et al.)

See also here.