Basking shark off California, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

On May 5, 2012 our whale watching boat, Manute’a, encountered a rare Basking Shark off the coast of Dana Point. The animal was estimated to be about 20 feet long. These plankton eating sharks are the second largest fish in the world; only a whale shark is bigger. Whale watchers were awestruck when this huge shark turned and swam right up next to the boat!

California condor nest webcam on the Internet


This video from California in the USA says about itself:

Male Condor #509 Visits Delivers Meal to Chick, August 21, 2015

24 August 2015

The male condor returned for an extended period, repeatedly feeding the youngster and resting for a while before leaving.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA writes about this:

August 26, 2015

Live From a California Condor Nest!

Our newest cam focuses on one of the most iconic and hard-to-observe species in North America: the California Condor. The cliffside nest cavity on camera in the Sespe Condor Sanctuary is home to a 5-month old condor (wing tagged #93), who is the offspring of a 21-year old female (#111) and a 6-year old male (#509). Learn more about the condors on cam.

This live stream is the product of a long-term collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Santa Barbara Zoo, and the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology.

In 1982, only 22 California Condors survived world-wide. By spring of 1987, all remaining wild condors had been placed in captivity, thus beginning an intensive recovery effort among government agencies, zoos and other conservation groups to save the California Condor from extinction. In 1992, the Service began reintroducing captive-bred condors into the wild and with the help of public and private partners the total population has grown to approximately 430 birds, with more than half of the population flying free. Learn more about condor conservation.

This year, the California Condor Recovery Program celebrated a milestone in endangered species recovery with a record 19 wild condor nests in California. Biologists with the Service began using cams to remotely monitor the nests of condors in 2010, and this year we were able to help bring the live view to Bird Cams viewers everywhere.

The Condor Cam runs from dawn to dusk, and you can expect to see the growing condor chick stretch its wings and feet in unique yoga-like poses and interact energetically with its attentive parents during their nest visits … Off-camera, the persistent calls of Acorn Woodpeckers, Stellar’s [sic: Steller’s] Jays, and Common Ravens provide the auditory backdrop that helps make you feel like you’ve got your own cliffside seat.

Condor chicks can be very curious, and we’re excited to share their little-known world with you. We’ll be posting updates on the Condor Cam twitter feed and the Bird Cams Facebook page so you don’t miss anything important. Thanks for watching!

Wolves back in California after almost a century


This video from the USA says about itself:

20 August 2015

Wildlife officials in California say they have photographic evidence of the first gray wolf pack in the state in nearly a century. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife captured images of two black-furred gray wolf adults and five pups in northern California. Other than a lone wolf spotted in 2011, official say the so-called Shasta Pack are the first confirmed wolves in the state since 1924. Trail cameras recorded individual images of the two adults, as well as one photo of the pups, which appear to be a few months old. Wolves used to be seen regularly in California, but they are now considered endangered by both the state and federal government.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

First wolf pack found in California in nearly a century

Fears hunters may kill newly discovered canine group

Siobhan Fenton

Friday 21 August 2015

A wolf pack has been spotted in California for the first time in nearly a century.

Two adults and five pups have been confirmed in southeastern Siskiyou County. Local ranchers tending to their herds told authorities they had spotted the animals.

State and federal authorities subsequently confirmed the sightings after a remote camera captured photos of the pack.

Read more:

Stuffed Arctic wolf worth £32,000 stolen in London
Litter of wolf pups ‘first’ of its kind to be born in UK

The state’s grey wolf population became extinct in 1924. They were named the Shasta pack, after the nearby Mount Shasta.

Karen Kovacs, from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said she was stunned by the news of the wolves’ return. She believes they have most likely migrated from Oregon’s north-eastern corner.

It is hoped DNA tests might be able to give a more accurate understanding of the animals’ backgrounds.

The canines are protected by federal and state endangered species legislation but Amaroq Weiss, from the Centre for Biological Diversity, said local conservationists are concerned the wolves could still fall victim to hunters as hunting season gets underway in the area.

See also here.

United States police violence against homeless people


This video from California in the USA says about itself:

Man with one leg taken down by 14 San Francisco Police Department officers

17 August 2015

This happened a few seconds away from some of the biggest tech companies in the world, on August 4 2015. Footage by Chaédria LaBouvier.

From Daily Kos blog in the USA:

Mon Aug 17, 2015 at 10:38 AM PDT

14 San Francisco Cops vs. 1 One-Legged Man, Two Crutches and Multiple Phone Cameras.

by jpmassar

It took fourteen San Francico police officers to not arrest a man (need we say he is African-American) walking down the street with crutches and a prosthetic leg.  It also took at least 30 minutes to not arrest him, during which time they had him pinned to the ground by his prosthetic leg, face down into the brick sidewalk.

A reporter, Chaedria LaBouvier, from Medium happened by and caught most of the incident on video, but not the initial disturbance (if, indeed, there was one) or the takedown.

a Black man… was taken down by police in the mid-Market area of San Francisco… I began to see outlines of the incident unfold… a limping Black figure, wearing black, increasingly cornered by a wall of blue. By the time I had crossed 8th street, I was pulling out my phone as fast as I could.

Witnesses said there had been a call about somebody waving sticks around… By the time I arrived… several officers had arrived on the scene, and forced this man to the ground, which is where this footage begins. And they held him down, much of the time half-naked, for at least half an hour on one of San Francisco’s busiest streets…

The sticks? They were his crutches. You can hear people in the background around say so much.

No, no one was murdered. No one was even arrested. No phone cameras were snatched or stomped on, no police person even went crazy, as we’ve seen in so many other incidents. But still, as La Bouvier notes…

“These are my crutches. I use these to walk.” … they stood on his leg, held it, and twisted it around even after they had cuffed him and pinned him to the piss-stained concrete…

5 seconds in, you can see a cop literally stomp this man’s real leg and prosthetic leg.

At 10 seconds, the man-handling of his head begins.

At 22 seconds the man says, “What the fuck is you doing this to me?”

… this is everyday harassment. Which is to say, that we’ve normalized and habitualized the kind of policing in San Francisco and the rest of America that brutalizes the most vulnerable people, which strips them of their human dignity, the agency to their bodies – to walk with crutches when physically disabled, to have this body unviolated – when in actuality, they are whom the police are especially supposed to be protecting.

By D. Lencho, about New Mexico state in the USA:

Albuquerque police officers who killed homeless man to stand trial for murder

19 August 2015

An Albuquerque judge ruled August 18 in favor of trying two Albuquerque Police Department (APD) officers for the shooting death of mentally ill homeless man James Boyd in March 2014. Judge Neil Candelaria’s decision followed closing arguments at a preliminary hearing that morning by the prosecution and defense attorneys for Keith Sandy and Dominique Perez, who fired the fatal shots.

The killing of Boyd, who was gunned down by officers armed with assault rifles for the “crime” of illegally camping, ignited protests in Albuquerque and around the nation after a video of the incident went online.

The preliminary hearing began August 3, took a one-week break between August 10 and 14, and resumed on August 17. The prosecution’s case was presented by private attorney Randi McGinn, who was appointed Special Prosecutor due to the disqualification of Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg, who was under investigation for bribery allegations that were later dropped.

In her opening statement, McGinn blamed the shooting on a “paramilitary response” that escalated a case of illegal camping in the city’s northeast foothills into a lethal encounter involving 19 officers and more than 700 rounds of ammunition. “What was the crime that prompted this paramilitary response? It was not a terrorist act. It was illegal camping,” she stated. She added, “They created the danger. It was not Mr. Boyd who came at them.”

Sandy’s defense attorney, Sam Bregman, presented the incident as a justified shooting “of a crazy man with two knives.” Perez’s lawyer, Luis Robles, claimed that Boyd was responsible for his own death, having given the officers “no choice” but to fire flash bang grenades and a Taser, sic a police dog on him and ultimately fire six shots at Boyd, three of which struck and killed him.

McGinn pointed to numerous discrepancies throughout the hearing. When she questioned APD lead investigator Detective Geoffrey Stone, he admitted that though “I do typically try to interview [officers accused of wrongdoing] right away”—in order to keep them from coordinating their stories—he waited two days to talk to Sandy and Perez. During defense questioning, Stone quoted Sandy’s claim, customary in post-incident interviews of officers, that he felt “threatened” by Boyd’s “aggressive manner.”

Stone could give no explanation for the fact that neither Sandy nor detective Richard Ingram, who fired the Taser shot, ever produced lapel cam videos. When Judge Candelaria asked APD criminalistics detective Nathan Render if he requested their videos, he replied, “I don’t believe so. I believe it may have been missed.” When he finally requested a video from the on-scene Sergeant— eight or nine days later by his recollection­—“the video had been cleared and the Boyd encounter wasn’t there,” according to a KRQE report.

APD officers are notorious for not recording incidents on their video cams, either because they “forgot” to turn them on or because the video cam mysteriously malfunctioned right at the crucial moment. If they do function, they may, as Render’s testimony makes clear, get misplaced or erased.

On the third day of the hearing, defense attorneys moved to dismiss all charges. Of the four charges—second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery—the judge dropped only the involuntary manslaughter charge, since “the evidence what I’ve heard is more of intentional and I haven’t heard much of anything unintentional,” as he told the attorneys.

The hearing included the testimony of Dr. William J. Lewinski. According to a KRQE report, “The defense maintains that Lewinski is an expert when it comes to officer action and reaction times during shootings, with a substantial academic background.”

In fact, as the World Socialist Web Site has reported, Lewinski, “who charges $1,000 per hour to testify at trial, specializes in offering psychological justifications for police shootings, in which he purports to determine what each of the participants thought and observed. He also testifies that police officers who give inaccurate accounts of shootings are really just experiencing memory loss.”

Or, as the WSWS article put it, Lewinski is in “the lucrative business of cooking up junk science to justify police shootings.”

Lewinski was in typical form at the hearing, using frame-by-frame footage of the shooting to make the claim that James Boyd was hit in the back because the first gunshots had caused him to turn. The judge cut his testimony short because of objections by McGinn, who called his testimony “hogwash” and quoted comedian Jon Stewart: “’There is B.S. out there,’ is what he said, except he used the real words, and when you smell it, you need to call somebody on it.”

Other defense witnesses, including an APD sergeant, a police instructor and the police dog handler—who claimed that Sandy and Perez “saved my life”—presented the officers as acting appropriately when confronted with a dangerous, “crazy man with two knives” threatening the very lives of terrified (and heavily armed) police officers. Since they could not subdue Boyd with “less lethal” means, they were eventually forced to shoot him. Sgt. Jim Fox praised Perez for being “very calm under fire [!]” and said that, “he made great decisions.”

McGinn countered that it was never a full SWAT callout, that Boyd was outmanned and that there was a third lethal cover officer, in addition to Sandy and Perez, who did not fire even when James Boyd took out his knives. Sandy, in fact, had told investigators that he had been called to the scene by mistake, but decided to go anyway. Moreover, it was the police dog handler, Scott Weimerskirch, who approached Boyd when he tried to correct his dog, who had not followed his ‘sic’ order at first.

Three hours after hearing the closing arguments, Judge Candelaria stated, “Counsel, having considered all the evidence in the case and applying the standard of probable cause… The court finds—with the exception of involuntary manslaughter—that the state has established probable cause as to all the counts in the amended information. The court will bind the matters over for trial.”

Still more to the east, in Texas:

Brazos County Sheriff’s Office investigating death of mentally ill inmate: here.

Humpback whales, what do they eat?


This video from the USA says about itself:

Surfer Almost Swallowed by Whale

2 November 2011

A woman floating on a surfboard near Santa Cruz, California almost ended up on the lunch menu for a humpback whale over the weekend. Barb Roettger had her camera rolling as two hefty whales popped out of the calm waters not far from the unsuspecting surfer and a pair of kayakers.

A pod of humpback whales has been hanging out off the Santa Cruz coast, noshing on anchovies that flock to the area to feed on plankton. The woman found herself in the middle of a feeding frenzy called lunge feeding, which occurs when whales herd anchovies and shoot straight up out of the water with their mouth wide open to catch the fish.

The whales have had quite a few dangerous close encounters with humans and boats in recent months. Whale watchers are warned to stay at least 100 yards away from the feeding area which can be a quarter mile square. Roettger says she has now gained a greater respect for whales, their feeding patterns and will now only spectate from the decidedly safer dry land.

For those who doubt that this is real, watch this footage that is shot from the same kayak.

From eNatureBlog in the USA:

What Do Humpback Whales Really Eat For Dinner?

Posted on Friday, August 14, 2015 by eNature

Despite the title of the video above, Humpbacks don’t eat surfers!

Even so, this video received lots of attention around the internet when it appeared— and for good reason.

It shows a surfer’s VERY close encounter with a humpback whale off the beaches of Santa Cruz, in Northern California.

But it’s also interesting because it’s a great close-up view of how a Humpback feeds and the sort of marine life that makes up its diet.

How To Eat Without Teeth?

Humpbacks are baleen whales and have no teeth. They feed by using the large plates of baleen (see photo to right) in their mouths to filter out shrimp-like krill and other small creatures from the water. Plated grooves in the whale’s mouth allow water that was taken in to easily drain, leaving a mouth full of dinner.

But most folks don’t realize that baleen whales such as humpbacks also consume fish— mainly small schooling fish they hunt in same fashion as krill.

In the video you can clearly see lots of small prey fish scattering in all directions just before and as the whale breaches. (Double click on the video if you want to see a bigger version of it). You an also see the whale’s baleen plates and the water rushing from its mouth as it filters out its prey.

Blowing Bubbles For Dinner

Humpbacks are energetic hunters, taking krill and small schooling fish such as herring, mackerel, pollock, and haddock. They’re also quite clever and have been known to use a technique called bubble net feeding.

A whale or group of whales swims in a shrinking circle blowing bubbles below a school of prey, encircling and confining the school in an ever-smaller cylinder. The whales then suddenly swim upward through the ‘net’ with their mouths open, filtering huge quantities of water and capturing thousands of fish in one gulp.

It’s a pretty amazing thing to observe…

And one other fun thing to note in the video is all the seabirds following the whales as they feed. These birds know that breaching whales panic fish and make them easy pickings for an alert bird. Looking for flocks of seabirds working the ocean’s surface is time-honored way for fisherman to locate schools— and for whale watchers to find whales.

Have you had a chance to see Humpbacks or other whales? We always love to hear your stories.

Why birds like dust baths


This video from the USA says about itself:

A group of California Quail dust-bathing at Point Reyes National Seashore in California, April 30, 2012. Pay particular attention to “Cal,” the sentinel. Shot handheld with a Canon SX30IS at high zoom (mostly 140x).

From eNatureBlog in the USA:

Why Do Birds Enjoy “Dust Baths” So Much?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Have you ever seen a bird rolling around on the ground as if it were having a spasm?

Chances are the bird is either dusting, anting, or sunning, all in the interest of keeping its feathers and body healthy.

A Dust Bath To Stay Healthy

Care of feathers is a top priority for all birds, because dependable fight is a matter of survival. The most common way to keep feathers in good shape is to bathe in water and then preen, or comb out the feathers to keep them healthy.

Another is to bathe in dust, by fluttering and rolling around in dry soil. House sparrows are well known dusters. A dust bath not only helps shape the feathers, but it also may help rid the body of parasites.

How Can Ants Keep Feathers Healthy?

Perhaps one of the most effective, and certainly most bizarre, ways birds may rid themselves of parasites is to roll on ant hills, or on the ants themselves. It is believed that the formic acid that ants produce is a kind of pesticide for birds.

Sunbathing is still another way for birds to cleanse their feathers of parasites. Like anting, the behavior of a bird sunning is so strange that people often think the bird is sick.

The hot sun often causes the bird to drop to its belly, spread or droop its wings, fan is tail feathers, and lean to one side. Then it may stare at the sun and gasp for breath as if it were about to die.

Like going to a health club, it takes a lot of work to maintain a sound body.

Have you seen birds enjoying a dust bath? Or any other interesting grooming habits?

We always enjoy hearing your stories!

Killing Californian bobcats like lion Cecil becomes illegal


This video is called Bobcat Stalks a Pocket Gopher | North America.

From takepart.com in the USA:

California Bobcats Will Avoid Cecil’s Fate Thanks to New Baiting Ban

Wildlife officials end the commercial bait-and-trap industry that fed the overseas demand for bobcat pelts.

Aug 6, 2015

by Taylor Hill

California bobcats are smaller and more abundant than the threatened lions of Africa.

But the native North American predators will be spared the fate of Cecil, Zimbabwe’s most famous lion, now that California has become the first state in the nation to ban commercial and sport bobcat trapping.

The public largely ignored California’s centuries-old legal bobcat hunting until 2013, when reports surfaced that the population in the community of Joshua Tree—just outside the national park boundaries—was disappearing.

It emerged that bobcat hunters—in a practice similar to that employed by the now-infamous Minnesota dentist to lure Cecil out of a protected park and turn him into a game trophy—were using scent pheromones and even battery-powered fake birds to entice bobcats beyond the park border, then killing them for their fur pelts.

RELATED: Feeding Russia’s and China’s Fur Fixation, American Trappers Make a Killing With Bobcat Pelts

One commercial trapper working on private land baited and killed 50 Joshua Tree bobcats in one year alone, according to the conservation group the Center for Biological Diversity, effectively eliminating the population from a 100-square-mile area just outside the park. While losses like these have not threatened the species’ health or survival statewide, concentrated killing can devastate regional populations beyond recovery, removing an important predator from local and regional ecosystems.

The California hunt in recent years fed increasing demand for the diminutive, 20-pound cat’s fur in China, Russia, and other countries, where one white-bellied bobcat pelt can sell for $200 to $600.

While the state legislature reined in the bobcat hunt in 2013, the law left 40 percent of state-owned land available to licensed hunters. But with only about 100 commercial bobcat trappers working in California, the commission’s 3–2 vote on Wednesday reflected its uncertainty that revenues from sales of $1,325 bobcat hunting licenses, as well as tagging fees of $35 per pelt, would be enough to cover the costs of regulating the hunt.

“The failure by the trappers association to show that they could adequately pay for the trapping program was one problem,” said Jean Su, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “But the bigger issue was the fundamental shift that has taken place in how we, as people, are viewing wildlife.”

That shift, she said, was evident in how the commission approached its decision. Instead of requiring conservationists to show scientifically that hunting the bobcats would be harmful to the species or the environment, they laid the onus on bobcat trappers to show that trapping the species would not be harmful.

“Before we make a decision to allow destruction of a natural resource, we should have the science to support that as a practice,” Commissioner Anthony Williams said during the Wednesday public hearing. “I don’t think that burden has been met.”

Bobcat-trapping totals in California have diminished in the past 35 years: Nearly 28,000 cats were killed in 1978, compared with 1,639 in 2013. But the state’s last bobcat population census was made 36 years ago, leaving both commissioners and trappers in the dark about how commercial hunting has affected the population.

“The trappers argue that without the science, you keep everything status quo, keep trapping bobcats. Our argument is the flip side of that,” Ju said. “Without the science, you really can’t have a limited take. It’s like having a bank account, and you have no idea how much is in the account, and you just go start spending money.”

Ju said more than 25,000 letters representing more than 1 million Californians were sent to the commission calling for the ban.

“What happened to Cecil is absolutely what was happening to these bobcats,” Ju said. “This public’s involvement in this shows people are not seeing wildlife as a commodity—that’s a minority view now.”