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A blog you should know:

If you haven't taken a look at Why Animals Do The Thing you should.

"We're here to yell at the bad stuff, explain the confusing bits, and pull out the cutest, coolest, most unknown content - all while putting animal behavior in its own proper context. "

This blog (mostly written by a friend of mine, full disclosure) is an exhaustively researched collection of articles, debunkings, and answered questions. I started showing it to everyone I know when it featured the best description and explanation of the Harambe debacle at Cincinnati Zoo.

There's a lot of debunking of Animal Rights Activism, explanations of pet animal behavior, and answers to questions like "why do lactating elephants appear to have human breasts?"
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Our June Urban Nature Walk was at Savin Hill Beach in Dorchester. This sun-bleached European green crab shell on dry seagrass is a good symbol of how hot and dry it's been.

more than 4 pics means use a cutCollapse )
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Eastern prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa) is a surprising sight for most people who don't expect to see a cactus in New England. This plant seemed abundant on this Cape Cod visit, but is state listed as Endangered.

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Considering the long dry period we've been experiencing this summer, the last thing I expected to see was mushrooms. Instead I was greeted with these fresh but very sturdy polypores--in fact a species I had never seen before, Cryptoporus volvatus, produced by a fungus that feeds on dead conifer wood.

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I don't have an identification for this dragonfly, but I could tell she was female, because she kept dipping the end of her abdomen into the water--a sign that she was releasing eggs.

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And on a little black cherry tree, these fingerlike projections are galls that protect minuscule Eriophyes mites.

Terrapin conservation station

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If you visit a Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary at certain times of year, you are likely to encounter these small exclosures.

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If you are lucky, you might encounter a small group of naturalists carefully digging out, marking, and relocating turtle eggs. They mark the eggs to make sure they are relocated in precisely the same orientation they were in previously.

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If you are remarkably fortunate, you will encounter a diamondback terrapin in the act of laying her eggs in a hole she dug in the sand. This species is listed as Threatened in Massachusetts, in part because of their very particular habitat needs. They are neither pond nor sea turtles, rather they require the brackish water of our relatively scarce salt marshes.

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A hundred years ago this species was nearly wiped out due to being collected as a food animal. Every nest counts toward bringing it back to a stable population.

A strange bunch of deads

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As we walked the high tide line in Wellfleet, we couldn't help notice the large number of dead horseshoe crabs. At first I assumed some had to be molted shells of growing animals. But no, every crab I encountered was a full carcass.
more deadsCollapse )

UCA PUGNAX!

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Who's that in the hole in the mud of the salt marsh in Wellfleet Mass?

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And who's that in the shallow pool at low tide?

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Who's congregating in the muddy water by the hundred?

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Why it's the Atlantic salt marsh fiddler crab! (Scientific name: Uca pugnax) These adorable little scavengers were very abundant when my dad and I went walking by the shore on our recent visit to Cape Cod. Sexual selection by the female crabs has driven the evolution of one oversized claw on the males.

Insects and sex parts in the yard

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A calliphorid fly (bottle fly) warms up on a leaf.

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The reproductive parts of a daylily beckon luridly.

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Japanese honeysuckle ready for a chance encounter with a hummingbird.

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A tiny grasshopper nymph (subadult that hasn't molted into a winged adult) just hours or days old, ready to eat soft tender vegetation.

Failed attempt but pretty

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These little black aphids are feeding on our nasturtiums. I was aiming to get a good sharp view of them and ended up with something softer and more impressionistic.

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Feeding babies to the babies

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A common grackle caught and killed a fledgling house sparrow, brought it to our yard to dismember and feed it to its own chick.

More venting, sorry

I posted to facebook saying I need to express my rage and grief but that I didn't want to pollute my friends' social media pages.

so here I goCollapse )

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The Urban Pantheist

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