Monday, August 03, 2009
Passenger Pigeon information:
We are living in the core area where the passenger pigeons once lived year-round, the breeding area of their range, and sporadic reports of Passenger pigeons have been made since their supposed extinction, including in Ohio and Kentucky.
What I saw did look exactly like a Passenger pigeon: a large greyish pigeon with a bright salmon-pink front. I saw it feeding on the ground within a few feet, and this morning I saw it fly overhead from below, associating with a large flock of park pigeons but keeping apart from them. Once again the pink belly was distinctive. The noise of the wings when it took off from the ground was also louder than usual when I saw it close up.
What I am assuming is that either Passenger pigeons were conspecific with mourning doves or that they had crossbred in the past and enough genes remain in the gene pool that they can be accidentally recreated by genetic recombination. Either that or they never really became extinct.
The Wikipedia entry also states that it is possible that the incredible numbers of the Passenger pigeons in the 1800s could have been a freakish population explosion, in which case it is possible that the freakish population was the one that became extinct while a few "normal" individuals remained.
Best Wishes, Dale D.
One of the most dramatic lake monster stories was that of a dragon-like creature inhabiting Lake Wembo (sometimes referred to as Membu or lake Wembu) in Tibet. In June of 1980 people living around the lake reported a house-sized creature with a long, scaly neck and large head. It was reputed to have destroyed boats and rafts and was supposed to have eaten a fisherman. It also devoured a yak tethered close to the lake that belonged to a communist party official.
According to Karl Shuker in his book In Search of Prehistoric Survivors, Lake Wembo covers 310 square miles and is up to 300 feet deep as well as being well stocked with fish. All in all Lake Wembo sounds like the ideal home for a monster, except it does not seem to exist. No travel guide, map or website on Tibet has any reference to lake Wembo, Wembu or Membu. There are quite a few lakes in Tibet but none go by these names. The closest I can come to it is the Namu Lake, the world’s second largest salt-water lake and the largest lake in Tibet. There is a lot of folklore attached to it including the legend that Buddha and his closest followers meet there every 12 years. As far as I know there is no tradition of a dragon or monster in the lake.
Could there have been some mistranslation? Or maybe the whole story had its genesis in newspaper tripe, a fabricated story of a lake and a monster neither of which existed except in the mind of an editor wanting to sell more papers.
Does anyone out there know any more about this case or about the elusive and possibly non- existent Lake Wembo?
Just a few updates:
Paul Vella has kindly arranged for us to be able to screen the movie Southern Fried Bigfoot at some point during the weekend TBA.
Those jolly nice people at Donside are arranging a special edition of their insanely silly movie Occasional Monsters, which will be screened (complete with special WW introduction) at The Farmers Arms after the dinner on the sunday night....
Glen's magnificent book is now available; the latest in the series of books covering the mystery animals of the British Isles; it is a real tour de force.
Well done mate.
ScienceDaily (July 28, 2009) - For the first time in nearly 50 years, a population of a nearly extinct frog has been rediscovered in the San Bernardino National Forest's San Jacinto Wilderness. Biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessing suitability of sites to re-establish frogs and scientists from the San Diego Natural History Museum retracing a 1908 natural history expedition both rediscovered the rare mountain yellow-legged frog in the San Jacinto Wilderness near Idyllwild, Calif.
This re-discovery - along with the San Diego Zoo's first successful breeding of the frog in captivity, and successful efforts by California Department of Fish and Game to restore frog habitat - renews hope of survival for this Southern California amphibian.
Globally, amphibians are on the decline because of habitat loss, effects of climate change and the spread of a deadly pathogen called the chytrid fungus. The mountain yellow-legged frog is one of three frogs or toads on the federal Endangered Species List in Southern California. Prior to this recent discovery, USGS researchers had estimated there were about 122 adult mountain yellow-legged frogs in the wild.
USGS and San Diego Natural History Museum biologists found the endangered frog during separate trips in June. The frogs were spotted at two locations about 2½ miles apart in the Tahquitz and Willow creeks in the San Jacinto Mountains. The number of frogs in the area has not yet been determined.
"If this population is large, it could play an important role in the re-establishment of this species across Southern California," said Adam Backlin, a USGS scientist who led the survey team that spotted the first new Tahquitz Creek frogs on June 10.
Biologists from the San Diego Natural History Museum made their find June 25. The museum scientists were retracing the path of a 1908 expedition by the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley. During that expedition, which covered all elevations and faces of the San Jacinto Mountain region, the frog was collected at five sites. The San Diego Natural History Museum's team is searching for all species of vertebrates - animals with a backbone - in a study of biological change in the region. The biologists were in the Tahquitz Valley area the week of June 21 when Drew Stokes, a field biologist with the museum, found and photographed a single mountain yellow-legged frog in Willow Creek, a tributary of Tahquitz Creek. The museum's study will continue until biologists have completed three surveys at each of the 19 sites studied by the 1908 expedition.
Mountain yellow-legged frogs are not known to migrate far, possibly indicating a significant population. The size of the site represents much more habitat than occupied by the eight other mountain yellow-legged frog populations in the San Jacinto, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel mountain ranges. In those areas, the frog occupies less than a half-mile of stream.
This rediscovery is a windfall for all the partners working to increase the number of mountain yellow-legged frogs in the wild by government and non-profit partners. In addition to the USGS and the San Diego Natural History Museum, the effort involves collaboration between the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, University of California and California Department of Fish and Game.
The San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research was the first to breed a mountain yellow-legged frog in captivity. That amphibian has recently morphed from a tadpole into a froglet, or juvenile frog.
"Historically, scientists have had great difficulty breeding frogs in captivity," said Jeff Lemm, an animal research coordinator for the San Diego Zoo. "We are excited by this success and cautiously optimistic we will have more eggs soon."
In December 2008, researchers at the Institute for Conservation Research discovered a clutch of about 200 eggs in one of its tanks. Researchers were surprised because the frogs were younger than is typical for breeding. Because of the frogs' young age, only a handful of the eggs were fertile. The one frog to mature is thriving. The next breeding season is expected to be December 2009 to March 2010.
The goal of the breeding programme is to return the mountain yellow-legged frog to its native habitat.
The zoo's breeding programme, in conjunction with its partners, began after the rare frogs were rescued from a drying creek. Anne Poopatanapong, a wildlife biologist for the San Jacinto Ranger District in the San Bernardino National Forest was monitoring declining creek water levels in Dark Canyon on Aug. 23, 2006, when she noticed many pools drying up, including one where frogs had been living. Concerned about losing the tadpoles, she called the Fish and Wildlife Service and the salvage effort started the next day. A USGS team led by Dr. Robert Fisher rescued 82 tadpoles, which were taken to the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research.
The frog recovery effort has been funded by Caltrans in part to mitigate for emergency work to stabilise a slope near the frog's habitat on state Route 330 in the San Bernadino Mountains.
"The emergency slope reconstruction project had the dual benefit of opening a road that was about to fail as well as helping to ensure that the last known population of the mountain yellow-legged frog in the San Bernardino Mountains had a program in place to aid the frog's recovery," said Craig Wentworth, a senior environmental planner/biologist with Caltrans.
Jim Bartel, the field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service office in Carlsbad, said his agency is pleased to participate in the effort to rescue the mountain yellow-legged frog and conserve its remaining riparian habitat.
"We look forward to reintroducing the species to its native habitat," Bartel said.
Habitat protection and restoration, combined with efforts to reintroduce these frogs to areas where they have been decimated, offers the best hope of returning mountain yellow-legged frogs in Southern California to a healthy, self-sustaining population.
The California Department of Fish and Game is dedicated to the completion of the Little Rock Creek trout removal project to benefit the endangered mountain yellow-legged frog. Working with USGS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, trout populations have been significantly reduced in Little Rock Creek in the Angeles National Forest. As a result, frog presence in the section of the creek where the fish were removed has increased, demonstrating the success of this collaborative effort.
Adapted from materials provided by US Geological Survey.
I saw something that herpetologists declare to be mythical, a little over ten years ago, now. It turns out, to my surprise, "hoop snakes" are STILL a myth, officially! I was expecting videos of them on the net by now! I saw one; haven't others?
Hoops snakes are "mythical" creatures that grab their tails in their mouths and come rolling at you like a hula hoop! And watch out; they sting with their tails!
What I saw is best described as a hoop snake! But it did not have its tail in its mouth. Rather, it had a horizontal, "spiral staircase," or "corkscrew" form. (I usually refer to its form as that of a giant bed-spring coil, lying on its side.) It was moving horizontally along an imaginary axis drawn through its form, from my left to my right, head to tail. AND it was rolling back away from me, like you would expect a spring to roll.
I later came to suspect that this was a common black racer snake that was moving in very rare form, indeed!
I have put up a crude but functional website about my hoop snake sighting with a crude but functional, hand-scribbled depiction of what I saw.
This Monday’s Monday Movie stems from a conversation between Lizzy and I on facebook; it turned out the poor girl has never seen Tron! She’ll be getting a copy soon but here to whet her appetite, and that of anyone else who somehow avoided the greatest sci-fi film ever made, is a trailer:
But as well as that here’s a link to a trailer for Tron Legacy (AKA Tron 2), which is coming out next year, if the trailer is anything to go by they’ve done the original justice and then some:
And now, the news:
Bald songbird discovered in Laos
Chimps born to appreciate music
Can the World's Fisheries Survive Our Appetites?
Dallas plans to give control of zoo to private society
Honeybees warn of risky flowers
It’s always best to ‘bee’ cautious.