Friday, April 26, 2013

Loose Feathers #389

Long-billed Curlew / Photo by R. Baak/USFWS
Birds and birding
Nature and science blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring Ephemeral Wildflowers

A few walks in woodland areas over the past week has turned up a variety of wildflowers. Despite some unusually cold temperatures in the last couple weeks, spring is clearly underway, and we can expect more in the next few weeks. Here are a few wildflowers that are blooming now.

Spring beauties are among the first wildflowers to bloom, and are often found in dense colonies.

Trout lilies are often seen in dense colonies as well.

Mayapples are sprouting, but I have not seen any in bloom yet. The flowers is attached to the stem, underneath the broad leaf.

Virginia bluebells are also in bloom.

I have trouble finding trillium in the woods so here are a few from a garden instead, starting with great white trillium.

Yellow trillium.

Sessile trillium or Toadshade.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Loose Feathers #388

Red-shouldered Hawk / Photo: US Forest Service
Birds and birding
Nature and science blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • Scientists have sequenced the genome for the African Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae). The analysis showed that the coelacanth and lungfish (both lobe-finned fish) are more closely related to mammals than to other types of fish, which supports the idea that mammals and other tetrapods evolved from lobe-finned fish.
  • Recent research on the coelacanths and other ancient lineages has shown that "living fossil" is an inaccurate concept; such organisms have undergone evolution at rates similar to other species, even if they remain superficially similar to their ancient forebears.
  • When a Chinese ship ran aground on a protected coral reef in the Philippines, it not only damaged the reef but was also carrying 10,000 kg of meat from endangered pangolins.
  • Production of the inexplicably popular kopi luwak, which relies on passing coffee beans through the digestive systems of civets, is likely to threaten the wild civet populations.
  • The small, web-based InsideClimateNews organization won a Pulitzer for its reporting on tar sands oil.
  • The kudzu stinkbug might shift from eating kudzu to soybeans if its population continues to expand. This is one reason it is so hard to find good biocontrols.
  • Wednesday's explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas has rightly raised questions about the safety of the fertilizer industry. There are also a variety of environmental problems associated with the industry due to its reliance on natural gas from fracking and nutrient runoff that causes massive dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, and elsewhere.
  • Finland is considering creating a new national park to protect Arctic wildlife.
  • Two new species of ypsolophid moths have been described from eastern Russia.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Loose Feathers #387

Wilson's Phalaropes in Flight / Photo Credit: Neil Mishler/USFWS
Birds and birding
Nature and science blogging
Environment and biodiversity

Friday, April 05, 2013

Loose Feathers #386

Black-backed Woodpecker / Photo by Mike Laycock (National Park Service)
Birds and birding
Nature and science blogging
Environment and biodiversity