The RSPB have put up all the results of this January’s Birdwatch. In just one weekend, over 8.5 million birds were counted in people’s gardens. It makes for interesting reading as this winter was particularly harsh and a lot of unexpected birds were found making use of the much-needed food on bird tables.
Archive for July, 2010
A new rare cross between zebra and donkey has been born in a reserve in the US. With her stripey legs she’s been given the rather apt name; Pippi Longstocking!
The two species are closely related, both being in the horse family, but genetically they are very different. Donkeys have 62 chromosomes whereas zebras have between 32 and 46, so hybrids like Pippi tend to have a number somewhere in the middle.
Incredible footage (probably best not to watch while you’re eating!) of a Japanese spider crab moulting. This is the largest arthropod in the world in terms of leg span and over their 100 year lifespan can reach up to almost 4 metres! Unlike humans, arthropods have their skeleton on the outside of their body, so every so often as they grow bigger, they need to shed it to build a larger one.
At first glance, I did wonder how this was scientific news…dogs will wait until you’re not looking to sneak food from your plate. But, interestingly it proves that dogs have theory of mind and can assess what others around them are doing. Dogs from shelter homes as well as pets had learnt this food-nabbing skill, which implies that it’s not learnt from experience but possibly genetic and evolved from wolves. Try it out on your pet pooch…but not with your favourite dinner!
If you’re looking for a bit of countryside this weekend, try Mudchute Farm in East London…and with this weather it certainly won’t be muddy! Plenty of animals plus if you get there early enough you can see the duck parade as they waddle to the duck pond.
Scientists in Borneo have set up cameras in the Deramkot Forest Reserve to capture photos of normally-shy wildlife, including this Malayan civet. Also caught on camera, the appropriately-named Sunda stink badger and the equally appropriately-named Hairy nosed otter, which was once thought extinct on the island.
Join the Big Butterfly Count survey and help discover more about the future of these beautiful creatures.
The Butterfly Conservation are concerned that over half of all butterfly species are threatened with extinction. Just spend 15 minutes outside in a garden or anywhere green and record how many butterflies you see. Plus their website has plenty of tips of how to encourage them into your own garden.
This 10ft whale leapt onto a couple’s yacht just off the coast of Cape Town. The Southern Right Whale, known for its bad eyesight, is thought simply didn’t see the boat. It’s a type of baleen whale, who don’t have teeth and instead filter the seawater for tiny plankton to feed on. Despite their massive size (these ones can grow up to 61ft and 80 tonnes!) baleen whales are known for ‘breaching’, leaping completely out of the water.
Scientists studying marmots (a large ground squirrel) in the Colorado mountains have found that over 33 years they’ve become a lot bigger. The climate change is creating longer summers, with marmots waking up from hibernation much earlier and having more time to eat.
If you’re round about London and already running out of ideas for the kids’ summer holidays, check out Battersea Children’s Zoo. Plenty for little kids (and big ones like me!) including cheeky lemurs, meerkats and otters who know when the keeper is bringing their lunch. Plus next week, PTES are holding a Mammal Detective Day!