The Watering Hole, Tuesday October 12, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Politics

Chernobyl and Other Places Where Animals Thrive Without People

I once fished a creek back in PA that was contaminated with PCB’s. They collected in the fat tissue of trout, an  if consumed would be potentially harmful, in a cancer causing kind of way. The solution by the Fish Commission was to declare the fishing catch and release only. The fish thought it was great. None would leave the stream on a stringer.

Another place I fished in the Pocono Mountains was next to a Superfund Site. Wow, talk about a place where you would find few other people. The fishing was pretty good there. Supposedly all the contamination from zinc smelters was in the vegetation and soil. The Fish Commission let you keep the fish there, as if there was no mixing of soil, vegetation, and water. I put the fish I caught back anyway.

Good wildlife viewing...

The Watering Hole; Friday May 22 2015; Cool Critters v. Clown Car Creepoids

In these days where political insanity seems to rule the world in which we’re stuck, it’s most enjoyable to head out and commune with critters that have never heard the word ‘Wingnut,’ and most certainly would head for the tall weeds if ever they should happen to encounter one — a concept with which I happen to be totally sympathetic.

Ergo, whenever the opportunity shows itself, I grab at the chance to turn my back on the ‘madding crowd’ and head for a more peaceful surround — assuming the weather cooperates, a rare happenstance so far this year (I could make some sort of snide comment concerning the science of climate change, but won’t because I don’t want to come across as really arrogant).

So here are a couple of critters that share the lake with the local flock of Canadian Geese. First up is what I’m guessing to be a Western Painted Turtle. He likes to hang out on an old bleached beaver-felled log that lies in the shallows very near the shore. He’s a fairly good sized fella, shell about 12″ in diameter, plus or minus one or two. He’s also a very peaceful dude; was sprawled on the same log on both days last week that we spotted him. We watched him for close to a half-hour each day, and he was the most statuesque critter I’ve ever seen — never moved a single muscle.

Beckwith turtle 1197Beckwith turtle 1227In the turtle’s general neighbood we spotted this other fellow as well. S/he is one half of a mating pair of Great Blue Herons which appear to have set up houskeeping at the lake this year. At least they’ve been hanging around for several weeks — time will tell if they choose to settle in. They are, however, very elusive, very secretive, and quite skilled at avoiding people. I got lucky with this one — spotted it standing near the shore a hundred yards or so distant. Fortunately, the camera’s 60X zoom was ready and willing to do its job!

Great Blue Heron 1192In the immortal words of Robert Burns,

“Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

That’s a very fair summation of what rolls about in the back of my mind every time I leave “we the people” behind and venture out for a mingle with the Higher Animals. The main downside to the whole process is the inevitable return to “civilization” and all of the noise that keeps it operational. Such as current political news, even little tidbits thereof. I think it was just yesterday morning, for example, when I heard that Rick Perry is going to announce on June 3rd or thereabouts that he’s decided to become the first Presidential candidate in US history to enter the race while under criminal indictment. WOW! He’s also just recently made it clear that nobody will worry about jade helm-type conspiracy theories when HE is president. Double WOW! For some odd reason, those two headlines, along with recollections of his brief candidacy in 2012 B.G. (Before Glasses),  reminded me of an old joke which, if based on genuine fact, would explain a lot of that WOW stuff:

A few decades back, a Texas family – mom, dad, and son – moved to another state. Come fall, mom and dad enrolled their son in first grade in the local school and told him that from the first day onward they wanted to hear all about what school was like, how things were going, etc. Dad said, “Son, always remember one thing: we’re from TEXAS and proud of it! And being from Texas means we got a heads up on everybody else, cause that’s what happens when you’re born in TEXAS!”

Son nodded and smiled. “Yes, daddy, I know. We’re from TEXAS!”

Over supper the night after the boy’s first day in school, dad asked, “So, son, how was school today? What’s it like?”

“It was ok, daddy. We all got told by the teacher where we should sit and I’m in the front row! Then she asked if anybody knew the alphabet and I raised my hand and she called on me, had me go to the blackboard and write it out, and I did! And I got all the letters wrote just right and teacher said I was the only one in first grade that ever knew all the alphabet on the first day! Is that cause we’re from Texas, daddy?”

“Yep, son, that’s cause we’re from TEXAS!”

The next night at supper, daddy asked again how school went. The boy smiled big and said, “It went great, daddy. Today the teacher asked if anybody could count all the way to twenty, and I raised my hand and she had me stand up and do it, and I done it! She was really happy, cause most kids can’t even count to ten and get it right. Is that cause we’re from Texas, daddy?”

“Yep, that’s cause we’re from TEXAS, son.”

On the third night, daddy again asked the boy how school went.

“Well daddy, today we went to the gym and they gave us shorts and a shirt to wear when we learnt how to do exercisins on the gym floor.”

“How’d you do, son?” Daddy asked.

“Oh, I done good. But afterwards we all had to take a shower get cleaned up afore we went back to class, and in the shower I noticed that all them boys had little bitty weenies compared to me.” The son paused, then asked, “Why is that, daddy? Is that cause I’m from Texas?”

Daddy thought a minute, then finally said, “No, son. It’s because you’re seventeen.”

The following year the Perry family moved back to the cotton farm in TEXAS.

Yep, that would pretty much define the Rick Perry with which I’m familiar. And I should add that while I’m definitely NOT a Democrat who has ‘sold my soul’ for immigrant votes (in spite of what one of the potential Clown Car Creepoids proclaims), it remains a FACT that I’d happily vote for either a turtle of a Great Blue Heron — immigrant or native, no worries —before I’d vote for ANYONE in said Clown Car!

Ok, that’s enough for now. The OPEN THREAD  is now . . . ummm . . . open.

The Frozen Hole, Saturday, February 21st, 2015: M-m-m-more S-s-s-snow?!

It seems like more than half the country is getting hit by more snow, ice, and other nasty cold stuff through this weekend.

We humans are just not designed for this. So, everyone stay warm inside and have a look at lots of animals who were much better designed for snow than we are. As usual, thanks to The Weather Channel for gathering the pics in this slideshow. While they do include some of my favorite ‘snow’ animals, such as the snow leopard:
snow-leopard-normalI think they were a bit remiss in not including others of my favorite snow-loving animals, like the Arctic Fox:
Arctic-fox-Wallpaper-arctic-fox-muzzle-eyes-snowAnd not a single one of Arctic Hares, either:

Arctic Hares High-Fiving

Arctic Hares High-Fiving

But I have to say that my favorite ‘wildlife-in-snow’ themed photo that ISN’T in the slideshow is this one:

"Hey, maybe one of you two cubs is small enough to reach in there..."

“Hey, maybe one of you two cubs is small enough to reach in there…”

This is our daily Open Thread – if you’re reading this from somewhere with no snow, please think warm thoughts towards the rest of us!