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October 1, 2016

June 14, 2016

Help Keep Yellowstone's Wolves and Grizzlies Around

Yellowstone’s wolves and grizzlies are doing well after decades of diligent and thoughtful work, according to Caroline Byrd, Executive Director of Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

Now it’s time to make your voice heard about plans Montana’s wildlife agency — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) — is making for these iconic animals. Please take a few minutes to tell the state that:

  • Wildlife commissioners need to stick with their decision not to increase wolf hunting quotas along Yellowstone’s...

Help Stop the TPP Now!

With one vote, our members of Congress could open the floodgates to threats to our air, water, and climate.

That vote is on a massive trade deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). President Obama and Congress know the TPP is unpopular. So they may try to sneak it through after the November election.

We’ve seen corporations use free trade deals to undermine our fundamental environmental protections time and time again. TransCanada recently announced that it intends to sue the U.S. for $15 billion in a secretive trade tribunal under...

June 7, 2016

Have You Seen This Hummingbird Before?

I bet this bird doesn’t come to your feeder:

It’s called the Booted Racket-tail Hummingbird.

The male Booted Racket-tail is a spectacular hummingbird with metallic green plumage and an elaborate tail longer than the tiny bird itself! This streamer-like tail features two elongated feathers tipped with blunt blueish “rackets.” Females lack the long tail, but both sexes wear “boots” (puffy white leg feathers).

While reading about this bird, I happen to be outside on vacation in the Smoky Mountains waiting, actually, for the the...

June 5, 2016

Hiking Bullers of Buchan to Boddam

Top 5 hikes in and around Aberdeen, Scotland.
#4 — Bullers of Buchan to Boddam.

This great linear coastal walk takes in some of the the finest clifftop scenery on the Aberdeenshire coastline, with stacks, arches, and bird life galore.

The Bullers of Buchan car park is just over 2 km (1 mile) out of Cruden Bay on the A975. From the car park, follow the path past the cottages to reach the clifftop, then turn to the left to begin the walk along the coastal path.

June 3, 2016

Webcams Have Been Updated!

The Webcams page has been updated!

There are four new webcams for you to enjoy, and they’re all African Cams located in Central Kenya. Here, you’ll get to watch hippos do what hippos do best (and you too during the summer) — floating in the pool and basking on the beach. You’ll watch all sorts of African wildlife stop by the local watering hole, and you’ll see various creatures just running around either playing or chasing each other. Here are some highlights I snapped:

Save Sea Turtles from Gulf Trawl Nets by June 6

Shrimp trawling is one of the primary threats to sea turtle survival in the United States. Every year, the shrimp trawl fishery incidentally captures and drowns thousands of sea turtles, including the critically endangered Kemp’s ridley in the Gulf of Mexico.

For a very short time, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is accepting public comments on its proposal to continue for another decade the moratorium on issuing new Gulf Shrimp permits. Keeping this moratorium is important to protect sea turtles.

Please give sea turtles a voice and let officials know they need to do more to protect them from the shrimp trawl fishery!

June 2, 2016

Is Biodegradable Food Considered Litter?

At this point, I’m sure you’ve all heard most of the information regarding Leave No Trace principles and strategies for limiting your impacts upon hiking trails and those upon your fellow trail users.

As use of hiking trails — and the back country areas through which they pass — increases, all of us must be especially mindful of even the smallest effects you may have on the land and on the experiences of those around you. One example of what some may consider a negligible impact is the biodegradable food waste people might leave behind to decompose.

One person’s food waste left to biodegrade is a significant eyesore for the next person coming up the trail, not to...

June 1, 2016

Hiking Oxen Craig and Mither Tap

Top 5 hikes in and around Aberdeen, Scotland.
#5 — Bennachie: Oxen Craig and Mither Tap

Climb the two highest peaks of Bennachie, Oxen Craig and Mither Tap, and enjoy fabulous sweeping views!

Once you start your hike through Bennachie, you’ll find there are very many choices of hiking paths to take in the area, and they seem to all intertwine within each other. But the trail identified in this post is the recommended one that made it...

May 31, 2016

What to do When You Find a Baby Bird

Just the other day, when I went to get the mail, I found a baby bird sitting on the ground under our maple tree. When I looked up, I noticed a bird’s nest directly above where the baby bird had fallen and a very frantic mother robin flying around my head. I wasn’t the only one around. Neighbors were in their yards tending to their gardens while others were passing by while out on their walks. The baby bird and stressed mother drew the attention of a small crowd and everyone voiced their theories on what had to be done. I heard everything from old wives tales to improper handling of the little...

Bald Eagle Abundance May Harm Other Species

If Ben Franklin had known in 1782 what the bald eagles would be up to in Maine in 2015, he might have pushed harder to select the wild turkey as the national bird.

Since being nearly wiped out in the late 1960s due to DDT and other pesticides, eagles and other birds of prey have made a dramatic comeback. However, this breathtaking recovery has brought some unintended consequences surrounding eagles’ prey on Maine’s out-most islands. While their diet consists mainly of scavenged or live-caught fish along lake, river, and ocean shores, eagles have recently begun to turn their sharp eyes, beaks and talons to seabirds.

May 26, 2016

Aberdeen Scotland: Bullers of Buchan

Exploring the best places in nature around the world.

The name “Bullers of Buchan” refers both to a collapsed sea cave and to the adjacent village. Located twenty-five miles (40 kilometers) north of Aberdeen, Scotland, in the Cruden Bay along the North Sea, this collapsed sea cave forms an almost circular chasm — also known as “the pot” — some 98 feet (30 meters) deep, where the sea rushes in through a natural archway.

May 24, 2016

Conservation Canines, the Latest in Ivory Police

Don’t let that sweet face fool you. This pup can sniff out ivory no matter how smugglers try to hide it.
And guess what?
There are more four-legged heroes just like him — eager to put an end to wildlife trafficking.
They’re called “Conservation Canines!”
African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) recently graduated their first class of sniffer dogs and handlers specially trained to...

May 23, 2016

Aberdeen Scotland: Linn o' Dee

The River Dee is one of the two rivers in Aberdeen, Scotland. The other one is called the River Don. In Scotland and Northern England, a Linn is a geographical feature describing where a watercourse has cut through a shelf of hard rock creating a narrow, steep-sided cut in which the watercourse runs. Many rivers have this particular feature, and some even have more than one, but the Linn of Dee — or “Linn o’ Dee” as they say in Scotland — is the most beautiful.

Though it’s over an hour west of Aberdeen, if you happen to be visiting the city, I highly recommend you treat yourself to...

The Top 15 US City Parks

In the midst of the teeming bustle of a city, it can be difficult to get out into a forest, mountain, or ocean setting when we need it. Fortunately, most cities have created spaces where we can still get the benefit of nature’s healing and soothing powers. Because of that, we are able to spend some time in a city-park oasis, getting away from it all in a cool green expanse, as an alternative. But these days, there’s a whole lot more to America’s great city parks than a swing set and an open field. As far as parks go, Thrillist.com has named the 15 best city parks to kick back and relax, hike and bike some nice trails, and even catch a concert or two.

I don’t know exactly what went into deciding the top 15, but I would put a few of these parks onto a different number ranking. For example, there are some parks that deserve a better ranking, and there are some parks, even, I’m not sure why they made the list at all. But that’s just me. What do you think?

The comments below each park are facts about the parks, no personal opinions. Make your own.

May 22, 2016

Aberdeen Scotland: Balmedie Beach

Upon first glance, Aberdeen, Scotland doesn’t look like a place a nature fanatic would like to visit. It’s called the “Granite City,” the “Grey City,” and the “Silver City” — nicknames that don’t necessarily scream the greens and blues of a nature lover’s dream.

Don’t get me wrong, this place is really pretty. As a fantasy geek, I find it has a certain medieval charm to it that draws me in. After all, it is over 1,000 years old. If I had a separate blog about medieval history, Aberdeen would definitely be on it.

Nevertheless, I am determined to find out where a true nature fanatic would go if one wanted to visit. I checked a few...

Charity Spotlight: Teton Science Schools

This week’s charity spotlight is the Teton Science Schools (TSS). Proceeds from The Nature Store will go to benefit TSS from May 22 through May May 28. To tell you more about TSS, I believe that in this particular case, telling the story of how they got started will give you the best understanding of their vision and accomplishments. It’s truly inspiring.

In the 1960s Ted Major, a science teacher, thought students would best learn about the natural sciences out in nature — a novel concept at the time. By immersing students in relatively undisturbed ecosystems, he felt they would gain a...

May 21, 2016

Spring, Our Greatest Indicator of a Changing Climate

One of the greatest perks of living in a temperate region like the Mid-Atlantic is experiencing the on going march from one season into the next. The most recent transition from winter to spring is one of my favorites. Every year I am amazed by the relative speed with which trees come back from their dormant winter state with a flush of new buds and leaves — producing tons of additional biomass in a matter of a few weeks.

This time of year is marked by a massive “green up” of our hemisphere as plants have awaken from winter and begun to...

Alaska DOT Tries to Ignore Stellar Sea Lions

The Juneau Access Improvements Project is a proposed $570-million road project to extend Glacier Highway out of Juneau for closer road access to the southeast Alaskan towns of Haines and Skagway. Juneau, Alaska’s capital, is the only capital city in the United States whose roads do not connect with the continental road network. Currently travelers either have to fly between Juneau, Haines and Skagway, or travel on one of the ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway System.

The plan by Alaska’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities calls for extending the road 48 miles along the...

May 19, 2016

The Return of the Cicadas, Brood V

The noise will be almost constant as the males assemble in huge “choirs” to sing and attract mates.

They’ll hit windshields, annoy bicyclists, possibly damage young trees, and scare the living crap out of you by landing in your hair.

They’re cicadas, specifically 17-year cicadas, or periodical cicadas, which have spent the past 17 years underground, feeding on sap from tree roots. Now they’re emerging to breed and lay eggs.

Study Confirms Fracking Waste Fears

The fracking boom took off so quickly, it was difficult for science to stay out in front on determining the health and environmental impacts. That’s why so many states today have fracking despite the enormous consequences. Only a very few states, like Vermont, New York and Maryland, took their time to follow science and ban fracking within their state lines.

Despite the bans, fracking waste still effects the overall environmental health of all states no matter where it’s...

May 18, 2016

Public and Environmental Review for Fur Export

Through an international endangered species trade treaty, the federal government is facilitating the mass export of furs and other animal parts to other countries where fur coats and the like are still socially acceptable. In doing so, the feds have skirted environmental review and public input for the program.

The U.S. is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), the international treaty that outlawed the unregulated ivory trade. Under CITES, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...

New Yorkers Needed to ResistAIM and Stop the Pipeline

On May 21, ResistAIM will be sponsoring an event where people from all over New York and the Northeast will come to the pipeline route for a day of peaceful civil disobedience. Activists will rally at a site where Spectra Energy is constructing the AIM pipeline in order to stop construction from proceeding, sending a powerful message that we will not let this company destroy our communities. While I support those who are in a position to risk arrest, there are many ways for people to be a part of the action in a non-arrestable way, and I encourage people in New York and surrounding...

Continue reading here...

May 17, 2016

Red Knot and Horseshoe Crab

Deborah Cramer, whose beautifully titled Pulitzer prize winner, "The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey," celebrates the courageous -- even miraculous -- life of the red knot, spoke at the Library Society in Charleston, South Carolina on May 11. It was too far for me to attend, but I heard she spoke to a standing room only crowd! Who would have guessed that there could be such enthusiasm for an obscure bird that appears in South Carolina only briefly in the spring...

May 16, 2016

Urge USDA to Promote Sustainable Diet

The American appetite for meat -- which is four times the global average -- is eating away at wild habitats, water, and even our climate. Yet while other governments have taken specific steps to recommend diets lower in meat and dairy, the US Department of Agriculture continues to cater to the livestock industry, leaving sustainability out of important policy conversations like our national dietary guidelines.

Think about it: Americans eat 50 billion pounds of meat a year, yet our farms don't even produce enough fruits and...

The Evil Practice of Topping a Tree

Melodramatic titles aside, good tree care is a serious deal. When properly cared for, a tree can boost property value, provide shade, shelter wildlife, and even improve human well-being. Bad management practices, such as topping, can turn an otherwise wonderful tree into a potential safety hazard for many years in the future.

To tell us more about the "evil" practice of tree topping, I've asked my friend Maria, a horticulturist and...

Charity of the Week: Loggerhead Marinelife Center

Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) is a non-profit education and ocean conservation facility located on the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Beach County, Florida. The facility houses a variety of exhibits, live sea turtles, and other coastal creatures. Exhibits include a massive prehistoric Archeon sea turtle replica, salt water aquaria, and displays of local wildlife, as well as educational displays about South Florida's marine environment.

The center hosts thousands of school children each year through field trips, outreach programs, summer camps and...

Continue reading here...

May 14, 2016

A Naturalist's Take on 'Placemaking'

It's been a week since the Jane's Walk celebration weekend around the world, and I've been thinking more about how Jane Jacobs led the way in advocating for a place-based, community-centered approach to urban planning -- now called the placemaking movement.

The placemaking movement is focused on strengthening the elements that make places engaging, livable, sustainable, and worth caring about. These are important efforts, and I believe the open and curious minds of...

Continue reading...

May 7, 2016

Watch Live Amazing Nature Webcams!

Three new webcams have been added to TheNatureFan.com!

Shark cam: This really cool cam is located in the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" off the coast of North Carolina and has tons of marine life. Mostly you see fish (which hysterically seem like they're all looking right at the camera), but occasionally you see a shark or barracuda passing by, too.

Hummingbird nest cam: There are very few things more adorable than a hummingbird's nest with teeny-tiny, Tic-Tac-sized eggs. She recently laid her second egg, and -- because she's a hummingbird -- she looks like she's vibrating on top of the nest.

Osprey nest cam: If you're like me, you're always fascinated to witness the beautiful seahawk in her nest. This one comes to you from Hog Island, Maine. She recently laid her third egg on the 5th and her mate has been celebrating by decorating the nest with more colorful items.

May 6, 2016

Earthshine, A Stunning Example

Sometimes you see a photograph that's just so wonderful you can't wait to show it to other people.

That shot above is one of those photos.

It was taken by Petr Horalek, a European Southern Observatory Ambassador -- the ambassadors are a group of excellent photographers who shoot pictures of the ESO observatories for public outreach.

The photo was taken on April 6, just minutes before sunrise. Smack dab in the center is Venus, twin...

Snow Leopards Gain Protection in Mongolia

Mongolia's parliament declares Tost a State Protected Area. The mountain range is home to a stable, breeding population of snow leopards.

The Great Ikh Hural, Mongolia's parliament, has approved a proposal to turn the Tost Mountains, a prime snow leopard habitat in the country's South Gobi province, into a Nature Reserve, one of four...

The Great Barrier Reef Through the Eyes of a Turtle

Ever wonder what life looks like below the surface in the Great Barrier Reef? See it through the eyes of a sea turtle.

To better understand the post-release behavior of tagged green turtles, conservationists carefully fastened a GoPro to the back of a female sea turtle. The footage the camera collected gives us a unique view of the Great Barrier Reef.

Continue reading, and watch the video here.

May 5, 2016

The 2016 Transit of Mercury

See also: Your Astro Guide to May 2016.

Your Starry Guide to the Month of May 2016

Mars will be at opposition on May 22. Opposition occurs when the sun and Mars are on opposite sides of the Earth. That means Mars will be the brightest it's been in 11 years, with a magnitude of -2.1. This is the great opportunity to observe the "red planet."

Jupiter will be above the horizon at dusk in the beginning of May. It will set just before 4 am. Mars will rise around 9:46 pm, followed by Antares at 10:06 and Saturn at 10:13 pm. This small triangle is easy to spot, making it easy to find the two planets.

First Monk Seals Taken to New Kona Marine Mammal Center

Read about the 2016 release of 7 Hawaiian monk seals. They're happy, healthy, and home again!

7 Hawaiian Monk Seals Released Back into the Wild

After eight months of rehabilitation at Ke Kai Ola, a Hawaiian monk seal hospital, seven young seals are strong enough to return to their ocean home.

Its been just a week since the release of the first of the seven Hawaiian monk seals -- Kilo -- was released back into the wild, and she's already been spotted twice by researchers on nearby beaches. Both times she was spotted playing in the shallow waters near shore with sea cucumber guts on her face, indicating that she had been exploring the area closely enough to scare the small invertebrates into expelling their insides in defense.

April 12, 2016

This Week in Nature: April 11-17

Spring Diamond:

The famous "Spring Triangle" includes Arcturus (part of the kite constellation Bootes), Denebola (in the tail of the constellation Leo), and Spica (in the constellation Virgo). Add free-flying Cor Caroli (apparent magnitude 2.9) and you get the Spring Diamond.

Sun Worshipers:

Arctic terns have begun their epic migration to their northern grounds. When Arctic terns migrate in Spring, they leave total daylight at the South Pole and arrive at the time of total daylight at the North Pole.

Butterfly Bask:

Butterflies require warmth to fly. Most butterflies that are active in early Spring have dark wings that absorb solar heat.

Whooping Crane:

Migrating whooping cranes travel more than 2,000 miles in as few as 10 days. Thanks to the Whooping Cranes Eastern Reintroduction Project, whooping cranes are again nesting in the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Their arrival time can be as early as mid-April.

Extreme Molt:

Most people know about the change a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly, but did you know that they change several times before they get to that? When caterpillar larvae metamorphose, they shed body layers at several stages. The most extreme is what takes place when they morph into butterflies.

Caterpillar Feast:

Caterpillars hatch from eggs in early to mid-April, which corresponds to the flowering of host plants. They then race to eat enough food before their host plants die back in summer.

About This Week in Nature:

To illustrate the widest range of natural events, I depict the seasonal activities found in the Northern Hemisphere, and I have chosen to present the most intense expressions of each season. My "This Week in Nature" posts are not meant to be specific to any one geographical area. They are intended to evoke the essence of the seasons and to emphasize the cycles of nature. The goal is to simply offer a glimpse of the natural phenomena that make each day an amazing event.


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