Thursday, March 19, 2009

To Feed A Hummingbird…

You will need a little bit of patience, and not to forget, rock-steady hands.

According to Wikipedia, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds measure only 7-9 cm in length, and weigh 2-6 g. These delicate creatures are the only species of hummingbirds that regularly nest east of the Mississippi River in North America.

Russ Thompson, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, was able to entice the male of a family of migrating hummingbirds to eat out of the palm of his hand.

This was one of the amazing videos he took during feeding sessions.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Eating From My Hand (Part One) from Russ Thompson on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Don't mess with a mule!

This is almost unbelievable!

This may be a first...

A couple from Montana were out riding on the range, he with his rifle and she (fortunately) with her camera. Their dogs always followed them, but on this occasion a Mountain Lion decided that he wanted to stalk the dogs (you'll see the dogs in the background watching). Very, very bad decision.

The hunter got off the mule with his rifle and decided to shoot in the air to scare away the lion, but before he could get off a shot the lion charged in and decided he wanted a piece of those dogs. With that, the mule took off and decided HE wanted a piece of that lion. That's when all hell broke loose for the lion.

As the lion approached the dogs, the mule snatched him up by the tail and started whirling him around. Banging its head on the ground on every pass. Then he dropped it, stomped on it and held it to the ground by the throat. The mule then got down on his knees and bit the thing all over a couple of dozen times to make sure it was dead, then whipped it into the air again, walked back over to the couple (that were stunned in silence) and stood there ready to continue his ride as if nothing had just happened.

Fortunately, even though the hunter didn't get off a shot, his wife got off these four pictures.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Great White Hunters

What do you need to hunt the world's greatest hunter? How about some fishing line and a six-pack.

Answer to bee crisis: amateur beekeepers?

Sunday, Feb. 22 2009
FENTON,MO. — Beekeeping has been dubbed "farming for intellectuals." The layered
hives, the sociology of the insects and their intriguing life patterns have
long provided an obsession for anyone disposed to backyard science.

But these days, beekeeping hobbyists may be more than just enthusiasts with
funny netted hats. They could provide a vital link in replenishing the world's
disappearing bees and the estimated $15 billion in crops that depend on them.

On Saturday, the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association hosted its second
workshop for beekeepers. It drew nearly 300 people, up from about 200 last year.

"I think the word is getting out about the joy of beekeeping," said Robert
Sears, the association's president, "and the importance of bees in nature."

Dozens of budding beekeepers sat in the Raymond E. Maritz Theater, learning
about where to place their hives, how to handle the frames inside, how to
analyze "honest industry" or determine when their colony has become
demoralized. In another room, more experienced beekeepers — those who attended
last year's workshop — got into the deeper intricacies of beekeeping.

Last year these backyard beekeepers added 150 hives to the area, with an
estimated 7.5 million bees. This year, with the new beekeepers and the
expanding colonies from last year's efforts, the numbers should go up

It's these backyard hives, some experts believe, that could provide reservoirs
of healthy bees to bolster commercial populations, the disappearance of which
has become a worsening crisis.

More than two years ago, beekeepers started noticing that bees were abandoning
their hives, mysteriously going off to die somewhere. Since then, the numbers
of bee deaths have climbed.

Last year the population of managed bees — those kept in hives — dropped 36
percent, following a 33 percent drop the previous year, threatening the 90 or
so crops that depend on bees for pollination. Researchers have yet to agree on
the cause of this "colony collapse disorder," but they're getting closer. In
the meantime, many believe, it's up to hobbyists and regional groups to right
the imbalance. "We're pretty confident that hobbyist beekeepers with hives that
raise local queens will continue to create the genetic diversity necessary for
honeybees to survive," Sears said.

Commercial bees are often moved around the country on flatbed trucks, going
from pollination site to pollination site. One hypothesis is that the stress
often sickens the bees, and that chemical and antibiotic treatments further
weaken them.

Some researchers believe they have identified another plausible cause behind
colony collapse disorder.

"We are recognizing that bees are suffering from multiple infirmities," said
Dewey Caron, a speaker at Saturday's workshop and one of the country's
preeminent bee researchers. "We're closer to understanding why they can't fight
back, and that seems to be because of pesticides and herbicides."

But most gardeners don't use either substance — meaning backyards could provide
safe pockets for bees to thrive.

The workshop attendees came from all around the region, and had different
levels of experience or commitment. But, they said, they wanted to be part of
helping nature find a solution.

"We're asking too much of these bees," said Margie Sawicki, an assistant
professor at St. Louis University, who attended the workshop. "This is a way to
build up the population."

And, of course, there's a little bonus in the process, if you get it right.

"I'd like to help with pollination," said Penney Boyce, of University City.
"And I like the honey."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The World’s Largest Mirror

The world’s largest salt flat, the Salar de Uyuni in Southwestern Bolivia, is one of the most exotic place sceneries on earth. Due to its large size, smooth surface, high surface reflectivity when covered with shallow water, and minimal elevation deviation, Salar de Uyuni makes an ideal target for the testing and calibration of remote sensing instruments on orbiting satellites used to study the Earth. In addition to providing an excellent target surface the skies above Salar de Uyuni are so clear, and the air so dry, that the surface works up to five times better for satellite calibration than using the surface of the ocean.

There is an estimated 10 billion tons of salt in the flats, 25 times the amount in the Bonneville Salt flats in Utah in the United States. The Salar de Uyuni, a sea of salt, a salt desert, was once an inland sea, or giantsalt water lake, but the water vanished into the thin dry air of Andean altitude. All that remains is the salt, tens of meters thick, lying stark beneath bright sky: a sun-bleached skeleton of a dead sea.