J-Barnes Avatar

428 Notes

rhamphotheca:

Absurd Creature of the Week:  Emei mustache toad

This Toad Grows a Spiky Mustache and Stabs Rivals for the Ladies

by Matt Simon

This dapper little amphibian doesn’t just walk into the breeding season unarmed. For one chaotic month a year in China, males grow extremely sharp facial spikes, which they use to shank rivals for the choicest nesting sites.

Some 90 percent of all males end up injured. Victors win the right to mate. Losers shuffle away and seriously consider never growing a mustache again, because maybe it wasn’t a good idea in the first place and they were just curious how it would look, like that one time when I was in high school.

Their weapons are called, no joke, nuptial spines, and they’re made of keratin — the same stuff as your fingernails. The spines grow straight through the toad’s skin, and although they will at times pop off in combat, they’ll simply sprout once again, only to fall off at the end of the breeding season.

And if you think that mustache is handsome, wait until you hear about the toad’s other transformations. Its forearms will actually buff up considerably in the mating season, like a bro during a Jersey Shore summer. This, according to evolutionary biologist Cameron Hudson, likely aids both in combat and in amplexus: the amphibian sexy-time, in which strong forelimbs will help the male grasp the female…

(read more: Wired Science)

photographs by Cameron Hudson

862 Notes

Spider Tailed Horned Viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides)

This rare and understudied viper has adapted a different type of hunting strategy.  Unlike its cousins who use their tails as warning rattles, this small viper uses its strange looking tail as a caudal lure.  The growth on the end of its tail resembles a spider crawling about, and it twitches it in such a way that captures the attention of animals that prey on spiders such as small mammals and birds.  

Although this snake is extremely well adapted and special, specimens found for study are few and far between, so not much is known about its behavior, reproduction habits and lifestyle.  It was not described officially until 2007.  The first specimen found in 1968 was thought to have an abnormal growth on its tail.  Another was not collected until 2003.  Both were found in the deserts of Iran.

4 Notes

hampshirewildlife:

Mosaic on Flickr.

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans). These vary in colour although I’ve never seen one looking as vibrant as this before!

hampshirewildlife:

Mosaic on Flickr.

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans). These vary in colour although I’ve never seen one looking as vibrant as this before!

Notes

The Incredible Puzzle Solving Abilities of Crows

From the BBC’s Inside the Animal Mind

2 Notes

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) 

Outside my house this morning, Coventry city centre, UK.

Awesome to see this juvenile take down an adult Woodpigeon equal its size. I took this with my phone, that’s how close I got!

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Outside my house this morning, Coventry city centre, UK.

Awesome to see this juvenile take down an adult Woodpigeon equal its size. I took this with my phone, that’s how close I got!

Notes

Dolphins purposely 'getting high' on Pufferfish

Another excellent wildlife documentary by the BBC.
Dolphins - Spy in the pod.

Notes

Conservation Course Update 3

I’ve finished it! I handed in the last bits of paperwork last week to complete my portfolio and it has now been sent off to the exam board to be marked.

My wildlife report went really well. I ended up writing 5000 words about the nature reserve I was surveying. I enjoyed every minute surveying and also writing the report as it threw up some unexpected results and I found researching fascinating again. The nature reserve produced some really positive wildlife sightings which I think is great for a small reserve situated on a hospital site. I recorded 27 species of birds, 16 species of butterflies and 9 species of Odonata on my survey days.

The wetland management module didn’t cover as much as I was expecting as it remained pretty much restricted to pulling Himalayan balsam and clearing rivers of blockages and litter. I’m not complaining though because I acquired a lot of new knowledge about health and safety and environmental issues I wasn’t aware of before. I also developed a lot of confidence with leading groups of volunteers, giving advice and safety talks which I think has been the most valuable experience this course has given me.

I’ve enjoyed doing the course despite all the paperwork which makes me even more certain I want a career in this sector. There’s still no job for me to apply for but when it does come I know I will have a better chance of getting it with this added experience Warwickshire Wildlife Trust was able to offer me.

2 Notes

Dragonflies!

Last year I posted a lot of photos of butterflies so this time I thought I’d have a go at capturing dragonflies. Not an easy subject to photograph as they rarely stay still.

Emerald damselfly (Lestes sponsa)

My only attempt at a dragonfly in flight. Very difficult to do when you just have a basic camera. Southern hawker (Aeshna cyanea)

Ruddy darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)

Female Common darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

This one is my favourite photo. A male Common darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Notes

I thought I’d post some photos of my conservation activities. Sometimes photos can say more than words.

This is what most of my wetland management module consists of. Pulling rubbish out of the river. Its always plastic bags that make up most of the litter. We need to start charging for carrier bags!!

More of what we’ve pulled out of the river. There’s usually at least one traffic cone and car tyre.

Managing wetlands means tackling Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera). This stuff is so invasive and when it gets to this size nothing else can grow.

My favourite butterfly, the Peacock (Inachis io) is very common and was the first butterfly I recorded on the new nature reserve. I’ve added 3 new butterflies to the list recently: Large white, Ringlet and Meadow brown. 

2 Notes

Conservation Course Update 2

Hopefully you’ve been waiting for me to post about my progress on the Environmental Conservation course so I won’t keep you waiting any longer.

It’s going really well I’m pleased to report.  The new nature reserve I’ve been surveying is providing some really positive results. It is only small so I was a bit sceptical about finding any decent wildlife on it. But after carrying out a number of breeding bird surveys on the reserve it is obvious that this reserve provides the perfect habitat for a number of species. The birds that were consistently present on the reserve (and therefore breeding there or near by) included: Reed and Sedge Warbler, Blackbird, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting and Greenfinch. Not bad eh?

The flora is quite impressive too. Over the last couple of years, since the reserve was developed, a large variety of wildflowers have been sown and are flourishing which, no doubt,  has benefitted the nectar feeding insects. I have seen a variety of bees, flies and moths whilst doing my surveys of butterflies which, surprisingly, hasn’t thrown up that many results, yet. Orange-tip, Small white, Green-veined white and Peacock are the butterflies I’ve recorded so far. I’ve also been keeping my eye out for dragon and damselflies since there are a few pools and the River Sowe forms the southerly border. I’ve seen 3 species of damselflies so far, single individuals so I can’t yet confirm if they are breeding on the reserve. I’m feeling a bit doubtful about seeing any breeding dragonflies as the pools are really small and dragonflies usually prefer large open bodies on water. I’ve still got at least 2 more butterfly and dragonfly surveys to do so fingers crossed I’ll see some more species in the next couple of months.

For my other module (wetland habitat management) I’ve still been doing mostly river cleaning but now that the summer’s here there’s plenty of vegetation that can be managed too, including the dreaded Himalayan Balsam. I don’t mind clearing the stuff; its quite easy compared to other tasks. I guess the issue most people have is that the task can be monotonous and with there being so much of it the task can take days or even weeks.

On the paper work side of things I’m still documenting about all the practical work I’m doing including the health and safety aspects of the work. I have started on my wildlife report of the nature reserve which has involved doing some research about the development of the reserve and any wildlife recordings in the area. The next stage will be to present my findings when I have all my data then write a conclusion of what this data means. I’m already starting to get an idea of what to write so I’m actually looking forward to writing it up once I’ve completed all the surveying.