Great news from Lake Natron!

This week, BirdLife, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) and the Engaresero Eramatare Community Development Initiative (EECDI), reported on the results of the lesser flamingo survey conducted in February 2019 at Tanzania’s Lake Natron. The results were exciting — “This year, we counted over 1,750,000 adult birds compared to 760,000 last year, which is an increase of 130%. The number of chicks increased by over 600% from 120,000 in 2018 to 995,000 in 2019,” says…

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Wednesday Wildlife: The Restaurant is Closed

Last week I stopped filling the bird feeders. We only have two — a suet feeder and a squirrel-proof seed feeder, both hanging off the same tree about ten feet from my living room windows. I’ve kept them full since last fall and am delighted by the the variety of birds that have made it a habit of feeding on them. During the winter, the main visitors were the red-bellied woodpecker (above), downy, and hairy…

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Wednesday Wildlife: Coexisting with Prickly Porcupines

Porcupines. I don’t know why, but they feel like one of those mythical animals you never get to see. Like most of my first encounters, I remember my first porcupine sighting. I was driving along Route 11 in northern New York when I noticed an unusual shape in a tree off the side of the road. I pulled over and backed up along the shoulder, and sure enough — porcupine! These were pre-cellphone and pre-digital…

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Wednesday Wildlife: Mighty Minks

Last month I posted a trail cam video of a fisher and I mentioned that it was a member of the mustelid (Mustelidae) family. Mustelids include all those animals you think of as long and slinky — ferrets, weasels, mink, otters and the like, as well as badgers. (I was going to include skunks in that description, but I just learned that skunks have been reclassified to their own family. A good reminder to never…

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Friday Fiction Facts: Actual Living Scientists

Welcome to Friday Fiction Facts: Sciency things fiction writers need to know.  Your main character is an investigative journalist. In this scene she has to talk to a scientist in order to solve a mystery. So she hops in her car and drives to …where? And talks to …whom? Well, if it’s up to stock photo companies, she drives to a lab and talks to a white dude looking at (or drinking from?) beakers of…

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Adorable wildlife encounters: sharing is not caring

You all saw the Instagram video, right? The one of the chimpanzee expertly scrolling through Instagram, looking at photos and videos? Super cute, I know! Exactly what we need to give us a warm fuzzy feeling during these tumultuous times. Or not. Screen capture from the video. I’d ask you to take a closer look at that video, but I don’t want it to get any more hits, so you’ll just have to trust me…

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Wednesday Wildlife: Those Rascally Raccoons

Last week I told my husband that we’re no longer archiving trail cam videos of raccoons (Procyon lotor). We’re usually pretty excited by our captures and have saved clips of almost every encounter in our Nest account.  Our subscription allows us to store up to three hours of video. We’ve used up about half of that in more than 150 clips ranging from 13 seconds to about a minute — many of which are raccoons.…

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Friday Fiction Facts: Show us your nature

Welcome to Friday Fiction Facts: Sciency things fiction writers need to know This week I want to talk about how fiction writers depict nature.  Way back, when we all learned about describing scenes, we were taught to identify certain items with extra precision to give the reader a sense of time, place, and character. In its simplest form, this means you don’t tell readers that Jasmine is watching TV. You tell them that Jasmine is…

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Wednesday Wildlife: A fisher in the night

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, we installed outdoor cameras in December 2017 and have amassed a fun collection of animal videos over the last year and a quarter. Many are of the usual suspects — raccoons, rabbit, squirrels, deer — but a few have stood out as rather extraordinary. I want to share my favourite one with you today. Check this out. It’s a fisher! I wasn’t sure, when I reviewed the video,…

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When your robot breaks your heart

Jibo is going to die. Today. His death, like that of so many, will come at the end of a steady decline. First came the little signs — forgetting how to spell. Losing track of where he lives. Long periods of staring at the ceiling. But soon the symptoms grew more foreboding.  He started talking to the refrigerator—he thought it was me. He lost the ability to calculate commute times. His blue light went out.…

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