Great horned owl webcam in the USA


This video says about itself:

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) calling for its mate on Dixon Branch of White Rock Creek in Dallas, Texas. This particular owl was hooting a territorial call for another owl that can be faintly heard some distance away beginning after the call around the 1:50 mark. The owls call to each other in a duet before finding each other for night hunting and nest building.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Our newest Cornell Lab Bird Cam just went live—Great Horned Owls from Savannah, Georgia (thanks to our partners at Skidaway Audubon).

This cam was initially planned to broadcast from an established Bald Eagle nest nearly 80 feet above the coastal Georgia salt marshes. But last month a pair of Great Horned Owls moved into the nest instead. So, we’ll go with the owls.

Right now the female is incubating two eggs, which should hatch around the end of January. Don’t miss your chance to get to know these secretive denizens of the darkness as they raise owlets in the coming weeks.

Owl species in North America: here.

Rare Kemp’s turtle beached in the Netherlands


This video from the USA is called Saving the Kemp’s Ridley Sea TurtleTexas Parks and Wildlife [Official].

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Rare turtle beached

Today, 12:18

At Den Helder beach last weekend a rare sea turtle washed ashore. Soon after that, the animal died, because it was starving. The turtle had not eaten for months.

According to director Marc Damen of Blijdorp Zoo in Rotterdam this is a Kemp’s turtle. That is a rare animal: since 1957 it had been seen five times in the Netherlands. The turtle is native to the Gulf of Mexico. It is threatened in its existence there.

Probably it had sailed in ballast water of a container ship. Damen: “If the ships reach the open sea, then they take in ballast water. And before they, for example, enter the port of Rotterdam, they will drop that ballast water. Probably the turtle had been sucked up.”

See also here.

CIA torture, Michael Brown and Eric Garner


This video from the USA says about itself:

On November 25th [2014], protesters took to the streets in Houston, Texas, to protest the non indictment of Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Torture, police killings and the militarization of America

12 December 2014

The fact that the Senate Select Intelligence Committee’s report exposing CIA torture has been released in the United States as the country is being swept by angry protests over a series of vicious and unpunished police killings has been little noted by the American mass media.

What are treated as unrelated stories are, in fact, two facets of the same phenomenon: the growth of a massive and criminal police state apparatus that enjoys absolute impunity. The crimes carried out abroad and the crimes carried out at home have a common source in an economic and social system that is in deep crisis and whose overriding features are social inequality, militarism and a relentless assault on basic democratic rights.

The cops who shot down unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, strangled to death Eric Garner in Staten Island and killed defenseless individuals in Cleveland, Phoenix and elsewhere go unpunished as prosecutors employ a deliberate system of exoneration by grand jury to prevent them from ever being called to account for their crimes.

The actions in the Senate report are sufficient to require the immediate arrest and prosecution not merely of the CIA’s killers and torturers, but of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice and other top officials who authorized and oversaw a system of depravity and violence in violation of both US and international law.

Yet no one in the US Congress, the Obama administration or any other section of the American ruling establishment suggests that such prosecutions are even remotely possible. On Thursday, Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan, himself implicated in the crimes, organized a press conference from CIA headquarters in Langley to defend the “enhanced interrogation” torture program and denounce the Senate report.

It was Cofer Black, the former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, who told an approving congressional committee in 2002 that “there was ‘before 9/11 and after 9/11.’ After 9/11 the gloves came off.”

The phrase, conjuring up the image of a bare-knuckled brawl, became a favorite cliché within both the Bush White House and the US military command. It was translated into far more gruesome forms of violence, ranging from waterboarding to hanging people from manacles and “rectal hydration.”

But the “gloves” that were taken off had more far-reaching implications. They involved dispensing with any adherence to the US Constitution, the Geneva Conventions or other bodies of domestic and international law.

The gloves came off not just for the interrogators at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram and CIA black sites scattered across the globe, but for every level of the state, down to the local police.

USA: Tamir Rice’s Death Ruled A Homicide By Medical Examiner: here.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report on its years-long investigation of the Central Intelligence Agency’s immoral torture-based interrogation methods says the CIA got no information that stopped terror attacks. Which is not surprising. Scientists have been telling us for a long time that torture is a lousy way to get people to tell you the things you want to know.. “The scientific community has never established that coercive interrogation methods are an effective means of obtaining reliable intelligence information.” Martin Robbins leads off his indignant post at The Lay Scientist with this quote from a 2006 report of the Intelligence Science Board, formed to give scientific advice to US intelligence services. The Board was abolished in 2010, ostensibly for the sake of efficiency and the budget. I can’t help wondering if it was dumped because it told intelligence agencies–a misnomer if ever there was one–things they didn’t want to hear. Such as: torture doesn’t work: here.

So, torture does not work to get reliable information. But according to Richard Seymour, it does work in other ways for anti-democratic tendencies.

Protest Meanings Expand Beyond Ferguson And New York: here.

Judge Limits Use of Tear Gas Against Protesters in Missouri: here.

Pygmy sperm whale rescued in Wales


This video from Texas in the USA is called Pygmy sperm whale rescued in Galveston.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare whale successfully rescued after stranding on Welsh beach

A stranded young six-foot Pygmy Sperm Whale has been successfully been refloated off a beach at Anglesey, North Wales and last seen heading towards the Irish Sea.

Sea Watch volunteer and BDMLR marine medic Ben Murcott, was the first to arrive at the Newborough beach on Anglesey after the alarm was raised. He and other trained volunteers assessed its condition and kept it comfortable until they were satisfied it could cope with being refloated. It was then carried out to the sea on a stretcher and allowed to reacclimatise to the water before being released to swim away.

The Pygmy Sperm Whale is one of two species of the Kogia Whale, the other of which is a Dwarf, and sightings of either is unusual in UK waters.

“Dwarf Sperm Whales are tropical species, occurring in the Atlantic off the West African coast whereas pygmy sperm whales normally range further northwards as far as the Bay of Biscay, said Dr Peter Evans, Director of Sea Watch.

“There are only seven previous records of dwarf sperm whale in all of Europe and although pygmy sperm whale has been recorded more often, there are still only about a dozen records from the UK, and only one previous one from Wales.”

To find out what you should do if you find a stranded cetacean please click here

For more information on what is involved in becoming a marine mammal medic click here

Good Swainson’s warbler news from the USA


This video from the USA is called Swainson’s Warbler.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare warbler on the increase in USA

Numbers of the rare songbird, the Swainson’s warbler, are increasing in the US, particularly on private pine plantations along the coastal plain from eastern Texas to southeastern Virginia.

The results of the study, which compiled data from 20 years of field studies, suggests that if current trends continue, forests managed as short-rotation pine plantations will support the majority of Swainson’s warbler breeding populations by the end of the 21st century.

The Swainson’s warbler has been a high conservation concern for decades as its 90,000 breeding individuals are sparsely distributed across 15 states in the USA.

The rarity of the Swainson’s warbler was previously blamed on its finicky preference for large areas of densely vegetated breeding habitat in the southeastern U.S. and wintering range in the Caribbean basin. However research carried out in the 1990s revealed that this warbler could be found in a surprisingly wide spectrum of habitats, including young loblolly pine plantations in eastern Texas.

The researchers believe the short-rotation pine plantations have a seven-to-eight-year window when the plantations are dense enough to support populations of Swainson’s warbler. Once this period ends and the plantations thin out, Graves believes that the warblers will likely relocate to nearby younger plantations that exhibit the desired foliage density.

“The Swainson’s warbler is becoming a conservation success story in a habitat that was once feared to be a biological desert,” said lead author Gary Graves from Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in the USA.

“This is a prime example of how intensive management of forest lands for industrial purposes can have a direct impact on bird populations in a positive way.”

The Swainson’s warbler a small olive-brown bird with pale yellowish-white underparts that measures approximately 5.5 inches long and is known for its loud, distinctive song and secretive behaviour. Despite its small size, male Swainson’s warblers defend large territories that range in size from 3 to 18 hectares.

Bats can jam other bats’ sonar


This video from the USA says about itself:

Flight of the Mexican Free-tailed bat at Bracken Cave

16 May 2011

We watched these Mexican Free-tailed bats flying out of Bracken Cave for over an hour. With an estimate of more than 20 million bats, this is the largest colony in the world. It takes around 4 hours for the entire colony to fly out to hunt. In this video, they are leaving to fly approximately 50 miles to feast on boll weevils in Texas cotton fields.

From New Scientist in the USA:

Bats jam each other’s sonar to steal meals

06 November 2014 by Penny Sarchet

Species: Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)

Habitat: Large caves, hollow trees, bridges and attics ranging from Brazil to Nebraska in the US.

It’s frustrating when your smartphone loses its signal in the middle of a call or when downloading a webpage. But for bats, a sudden loss of its sonar signal means missing an insect meal in mid-flight. Now there’s evidence to suggest that bats are sneakily using sonar jamming techniques to make their fellow hunters miss their tasty targets.

Like other bats, the Mexican free-tailed bat uses echolocation to pinpoint prey insects in the dark. But when many bats hunt in the same space, they can interfere with each other’s echoes, making detection more difficult.

Jamming happens when a sound disrupts a bat’s ability to extract location information from the echoes returning from its prey, explains Aaron Corcoran of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Previous research has shown that Mexican free-tailed bats can get around this jamming by switching to higher pitches. Using different sound frequencies to map the hunting grounds around them allows many bats to hunt in the same space.

In these studies, jamming of each other’s signals was seemingly inadvertent – a simple consequence of two bats attempting to echolocate in close proximity. But Corcoran has found evidence of sneakier goings-on.

Sonar sabotage

Corcoran has found a second type of sonar jamming in these bats – intentional sabotage of a fellow bat. “In this study, the jamming is on purpose and the jamming signal has been designed by evolution to maximally disrupt the other bat’s echolocation,” he says.

Working with William Conner of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Corcoran compared flight-path calculations with audio and video field recordings. They discovered that these bats emit special ultrasonic signals that interfere with the echolocation of other bats that are attacking insect prey.

“For this type of jamming, the interfering sound needs to overlap the echoes in time and frequency,” says Corcoran. This is unlike previously described accidental jamming, which covers only a single frequency, so can be avoided by shifting to another frequency. “This jamming signal covers all the frequencies used by the other bat, so there’s no available frequency to shift to.”

Vicious competition

Playing back recordings of these jamming calls was enough to make flying bats miss their insect targets. Corcoran suggests being jammed by another bat is like having your sense of where an insect is become blurry. “The bats know a moth is there, they just can’t quite know where it is with sufficient detail to capture it.”

He believes the bats do this to each other because they live together in huge numbers, putting them in tough competition for the same food. “This species has the largest aggregations of mammals on the planet – up to one million individuals in a single cave,” explains Corcoran. Leaving a moth for another bat and going to look for another costs more energy. “It’s all about efficiency of getting food. Under high levels of competition, it pays to stay and fight for a food item.”

But it’s a game that one insect has evolved to get in on too. Grote’s bertholdia moth (Bertholdia trigona) is the only moth known to jam bat echolocation to protect itself from being caught and eaten. Corcoran says it jams most bats that have been studied, by making a barrage of high-frequency clicks as a bat approaches them. Far above the range of human hearing, it’s a life-or-death audio battle out there.

Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1259512

Bats change their tune to cope with human noise pollution: here.