Category Archives: Animals

Dauphin Island Beaver

Beaver at Dauphin Island, Alabama Poster

Beaver swimming in the ocean near Pelican Point on Dauphin Island, Alabama.

I expected to see pelicans, cormorants, gulls and dolphins at the beach on Dauphin Island, Alabama, but seeing a beaver swimming along the rocks and edge of the beach was certainly a surprise. This beaver seemed to be exploring. I don’t think there was anything for him to eat along the beach, and ingesting salt water isn’t healthy for a beaver. Maybe he was lost. It was near sunset, a full moon, choppy waves, a lot of bird activity and even a dolphin cruising around. The next day, I saw a beaver swimming past a sunning alligator in the lake in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. That doesn’t seem very safe, either.

In articles I’ve read since, some biologists say beavers travel in saltwater to move from one environment to another. Other scientists said they are moving to brackish environments due to decreasing habitat. In these habitats near the ocean, the beavers have built their lodges to accommodate the tides. Biologists have found beavers suffering from saltwater poisoning, however, from consuming too much saltwater while while chewing trees and plants for lodge construction and while eating.

Beavers are large, semiaquatic rodents of the temperate Northern Hemisphere. This was a North American beaver (Castor canadensis). Beavers are the second-largest living rodents after the capybaras. Their usual habitat is freshwater, such as rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. They are herbivorous and consume tree bark, aquatic plants, grasses and sedges.

Dauphin Island is a barrier island at the mouth of Mobile Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s called the Sunset Capital of Alabama and is home to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary and other refuges, to 19th century Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, The Estuarium public aquarium, many white sand beaches, historic sites and points of interest.  Dauphin Island is considered one of the top four locations in North America for viewing spring bird migrations. The Sanctuary consists of 137 acres of maritime forest, marshes, and dunes, including a lake, a swamp, and a beach. The three-mile trail system within the Sanctuary is a National Recreational Trail. The refuge is at the Eastern end of Dauphin Island, a 14 mile-long barrier island south of the Alabama mainland Gulf Coast.

Beaver in the Ocean, Dauphin Ocean, Alabama Poster

A beaver swims in the ocean near Pelican Point on Dauphin Island, Alabama.

In the top photograph, a beaver swims in Galliard Lake in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama. On the right is a Great Blue Heron. The beaver swam past an alligator basking in the sunshine.

In the top photograph, a beaver swims in Galliard Lake in the Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island, Alabama. On the right is a Great Blue Heron. The beaver swam past an alligator basking in the sunshine.

About the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary.

About Saltwater Beavers in Canada.

Saltwater Beavers Bring Life Back to Estuaries.

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A Tale of Two Kitties

Lester and Oreo are both HIV positive cats, but they can still live long and healthy lives.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote this post more than seven years ago, but didn’t publish it. I was waiting for an update on these two kitties in their new home, but I wasn’t able to get one. So this post has languished in my drafts all of this time. I decided to publish it anyway. I’ve been taking photographs of cats for adoption at Wayside Waifs for more than ten years. There are always cats as wonderful as Lester and Oreo, some with HIV, available at Wayside Waifs.

It was the worst of times, but then it was the best of times (to misquote Charles Dickens) for two kitties, Oreo and Lester, who were homeless. They were brought separately to Wayside Waifs, a no-kill shelter in Kansas City, Missouri, area. Because each cat tested positive for the FIV virus, they were isolated from other cats. The Feline Immuno-deficiency Virus is a slow virus that affects a cat’s immune system, but a cat with FIV can live a long, healthy life if well-cared for with a high-quality diet and kept indoors in a low-stress environment.

Both Oreo and Lester are very friendly and sociable cats, so they were lonely in their own rooms. Staff and volunteers decided to put the two cats together to see how they clicked since they both seemed so easy-going. Like humans, cats have a wide range of personalities, so finding compatible roommates is both an art and a science, which many of the Wayside Waifs staff and volunteers have mastered. Lester, 8 1/2 years old, was introduced to Oreo, almost age two, in his larger room, Cat Fish Cove. They bonded quickly and soon were grooming each other, wrestling and sleeping and snuggling together. Humans should be so lucky to find soul mates like this!

Lester and Oreo, a bonded pair

Lester and Oreo, a bonded pair.

A family fell in love with the pair, and now Lester and Oreo are happily settled in their new forever home.

The medical report on both cats explained their condition: FIV  “is an active viral infection results in immunosuppression of the infected individual resulting in an increased susceptibility to secondary infections with other pathogens. The virus is spread through direct contact, although unlike FeLV (which is spread through prolonged intimate contact, such as grooming) FIV is more commonly spread through bite wounds. The virus is not a hardy virus, meaning it dies quickly once outside the body – making spreading via fomites, such as food bowls, unlikely. Positive cats can live long healthy lives as long as any secondary infections are treated properly. However, due to the contagious nature of the disease, they should not live in multiple cat households unless the other cats present are also FIV +.”  

Here’s a great article explaining FIV in non-medical terms: FIV: Catching a Bad Case of Rumors

Why This Vet Thinks FIV Positive Cats Make Great Adoptees.

Before Lester was moved into Oreo’s room, he would wait at the door of his hug room, hoping for attention. Because he is FIV positive, he wasn’t allowed to free roam or interact with other cats, unless they were also FIV positive.

At Wayside Waifs, Lester and Oreo were very happy together, and easily entertained each other, but they still liked human company. They’d often come to the door for some attention when someone passed by.

Lester and Oreo love to wrestle.

Lester and Oreo, a bonded pair

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Bee-autiful!

Honey Bee Swarm on a Maple Tree. Inset shows the position and size of the swarm in the tree.

On my two-mile walking route in my Kansas City suburban neighborhood, I’ve seen a lot of interesting sights, including a bobcat, foxes, deer, a stealth bomber overhead, local pilots flying their planes in formation, plenty of golfers on the golf course and children fishing in a small lake, where mallard ducks, herons, Canadian geese, turtles and muskrats have visited or made a home.

This week I was treated to a new sight — a huge swarm of honey bees.

I heard them before I saw them — a huge buzzing sound like something out of a science fiction movie. The bees were swarming around a maple tree, which you can see in the video above. Which reminds me of how beautiful are the changes in the seasons on this walk with so many flowers and colorful leaves appearing in succession throughout the year.

They had taken up temporary residence in a maple tree near a yard full of flowering shrubs, including masses of lilacs now in bloom. When I first moved to my current house fifteen years ago, honey bees were frequently seen in the Spring working the flowers of the crab apple trees that line the sidewalk on my street. But there were fewer each year. This year I didn’t see any on the crab apple flowers!

I returned the day after I took the video and saw all of the bees were quietly clustered on the tree. Only one or two were buzzing around. I read that this is normal behavior as the bees await their scouts returning with news of a new nest location in a tree hollow or other cavity, which could be up to a mile away. On the third day’s walk, the bees were gone with no sign they’d ever been there. A lone bee flew around as if to ask “Where did everyone go?”

Swarming is a honey bee colony’s way of reproduction. In the process of swarming, the original colony splits into two or more colonies. Honey Bees are non-aggressive when they swarm, since they have no hive to protect. They didn’t seem to notice me. In most climates, western honey bees (apis mellifera) swarm in the spring and early summer, when there is an abundance of blooming flowers from which to collect nectar and pollen. When these favorable conditions occur, the hive creates one to two dozen new queens. Just as the pupal stages of these “daughter queens” are nearly complete, the old queen and about half to two-thirds of the adult workers leave the colony in a swarm. Successful scouts will return to the swarm to report the location of suitable nesting sites to the other bees.

In the temporary location, the bees decide on the final nest site based on the level of excitement of the dances of the scout bees, which will lead the swarm to its new home. It’s unusual if a swarm clusters for more than three days at an intermediate stop.

In the old colony, the emerging daughter queens will fight one another until there is only one surviving queen.

One of my first blog posts here was about saving bees and their importance to pollination: Saving Bees.

“Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.” Pollinator Partnership.

What is Pollination?

Honeybee Visiting a Sunflower Photo Print

Honeybee visits a sunflower.

Click on the photo to see the full-size photo.

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Filed under Animals, Gardening, Insects, Kansas, Kansas City, Natural History, Nature, Photography

The Battle of Little Bighorn

Visitors climb the path to Last Stand Hill where marble headstones mark where members of the United States 7th Cavalry fell in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, including that of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.

 

When I started studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence in the Dyche Museum of Natural History, I saw the preserved body of Comanche, a horse that survived the battle at the Little Bighorn despite grave injuries. I became fascinated with this beautiful horse and his history, especially when I learned that the horse lived for a time at Fort Meade, near Sturgis, South Dakota, where my father grew up. Comanche spent a lot of time at forts in Kansas, my home state, before his final spot in Dyche Museum.

The Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana (June 25–26, 1876) has been depicted widely in paintings, books and movies from many viewpoints.  Visiting the battlefield adds much more to the story as you travel over the rolling hills of grass, reading how the battle occurred.  My husband and I have visited this battlefield twice.  Horses graze in the pastures there, bringing to mind the many horses who tragically were involved in the battle.

Seventh Cavalry Horse Cemetery Memorial at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Memorial, Montana.

My first memory of learning about the battle happened when I was a Girl Scout tour guide in the late 1960s at the open-air museum Cowtown.  I saw a painting depicting “Custer’s Last Stand”  in one of the buildings in Cowtown, an “Old West” museum with more than 50 historic and re-created buildings, in Wichita, Kansas.

In 1970, when I started studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, the popular movie “Little Big Man” debuted.  Based on a novel by Thomas Berger,  “Little Big Man” depicted scenes from the Battle of the Little Bighorn, known as the Battle of the Greasy Grass by Native Americans. There is too much to write about Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his U.S. Army 7th Cavalry fatal encounter with the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho Native Americans, but I’ll add some links at the bottom of this post.

About the Battle of the Little Bighorn (from Wikipedia)

A marker shows where Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer fell on Last Stand Hill at the Little Bighorn Battlefield Monument in Montana.

 

 

 

The horse Comanche, photographed in 1887. Comanche survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn. He is one of only four horses in United States history to be given a military funeral with full military honors. His preserved body is now on display at Dyche Museum of Natural History at the University of Kansas.

Indian Memorial Sculpture, Little Bighorn, Montana Poster

Indian Memorial Sculpture, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Memorial, Montana.

Custer National Cemetery, and the History of National Cemeteries.

 

I hate that animals are forced into the battles among humans.
Comanche, the horse that survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn (Wikipedia).

Comanche, the horse that survived the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Custer’s Last Stand Suicide Myth.

THE 7TH CAVALRY HORSE CEMETERY (Little Big Horn). A very interesting history lesson.

Once sung by descendants of the 7th Cavalry, Irish air “Garrymore” will no longer cause pain for Native Americans.

 

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National Cat Day #NationalCatDay

I’ve been a Cat Lady since 1991 when we got our first cat, Malcolm, a little Maine Coon kitten from Wayside Waifs.

Lucky me, since the summer of 2010 I’ve played with cats and kittens every week at Wayside Waifs when I take their photographs for the adoptable cats section of the Wayside Waifs website. I also photograph dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and ferrets. But mostly cats, maybe 15,000 so far.

Sadly, Malcolm and Paddington have both passed over the Rainbow Bridge.

#NationalCatDay I’ve been a cat lady since 1991 when we got Malcolm from #WaysideWaifs. #Purrfect Love (Top Left to Right, clockwise) Malcolm, Bones, Inka and Paddington.

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Bull Moose at Dawn in Rocky Mountain National Park

A bull moose stands in Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, at dawn.

A bull moose stands in Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain Park at dawn in late September 2019. The moose seems to be posing for the many photographers who lined the lake. I was lucky to be one of them, thanks to my friend Lynn who drove me there. She also took some great photographs.

Moose (Alces alces) are the largest members of the deer family. On average, an adult moose stands between five and seven feet high at the shoulder. Large males can weigh as much as 1,500 pounds while females are roughly three-quarters of this size.

National Park Service: About Moose in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Where to see moose in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

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Shark Attack

A shark chased a fish to the beach at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

I was standing at the edge of the surf on the beach at Cape Canaveral, Florida, looking for dolphins to photograph, when I heard thrashing sounds in the surf on the beach about ten feet away. It was a shark, about five-feet-long, attacking a fish. It was a ferocious struggle. Too close for comfort. Another reason why I never swim in the ocean!

I don’t know what kind of shark it was.  I’m guessing that it was a tiger shark, because of the shape of the head and because it was so aggressive. But I’m not a shark expert.

Here’s a list of sharks you might find off the coast of Cape Canaveral and nearby Cocoa Beach, Florida.  Seven Florida Shark Species.

A fishing site describes the seven shark species: Descriptions of Seven Florida Shark Species. 

About the Tiger Shark.

Click on this photo to see more details:

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The Turtle Hospital, Marathon, Florida

The Turtle Hospital is housed in the former Hidden Harbor Motel in Marathon, Florida. The Turtle Hospital opened its doors 1986 with four main goals: 1) rehab injured sea turtles and return them to their natural habitat, 2) educate the public through outreach programs and visit local schools, 3) conduct and assist with research aiding to sea turtles (in conjunction with state universities), and 4) work toward environmental legislation making the beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles.

I love turtles, so I was glad to see The Turtle Hospital exists to help sea turtles in distress. My husband and I visited The Turtle Hospital while visiting Marathon in the Florida Keys.

The Turtle Hospital, 2396 Overseas Highway, was the first state-certified veterinary hospital in the world for sea turtles. Among the threats to sea turtles are monofiliment entanglement, rope and net entanglement, boat hits, oils spills and tar, intestinal impaction from eating debris, such as cigarette filters (which look similar to shrimp) and plastic bags, coastal development that can damge nests and disorients adults and hatchlings from artificial light, and fibropapilloma tumors that result from a virus. Also, turtles also can suffer from extreme cold when they don’t migrate to warmer waters soon enough.

The Turtle Hospital, which is housed in the former Hidden Harbor Motel complex, is funded entirely by donations and tickets sales to visitors, who take a tour. The motel owner Richie Moretti founded The Turtle Hospital. After a hurricane ruined the motel, Moretti decided to dedicate the motel entirely to turtle rescue.

Five species of sea turtles are found in the waters of the Florida Keys: Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Green (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii).

This Kemp’s Ridley turtle is recuperating in a tank in The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida. Every year Kemp’s Ridley turtles are found cold stunned on New England beaches. Volunteers will look for these cold stunned turtles on the beach and transport them to the New England Aquarium, according to The Turtle Hospital. Once they determine that they are stabilized and ready for transport, they get shipped south. They do not fly commercial, they get volunteer pilots from “Turtles Fly Too!”

 

Green Turtles

Green Turtles that have been hurt in accidents, been damaged from net entanglements, have ingested foreign materials or suffer from diseases are taken care of at The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida.

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Elk Photo Shoot

Here are three of the seven bull elk that lounged and grazed in a neighborhood where friends and I stayed in Estes Park, Colorado.

My husband and I visited several U.S. National Parks in the last year and a half, and we didn’t see one large mammal — even in Yellowstone National Park, where you can always see bison.  I’d seen plenty of elk, moose and bison a few years earlier, but I had entered an animal drought. I was determined to see some elk on our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) in early November 2018.  We stayed just outside of the park in the town of Estes Park.   I was very eager to shoot a few elk with my new camera.

We’d visited RMNP in August, and I only saw a large ground squirrel in the park.  During that visit, we’d hoped to see bighorn sheep at Sheep Lakes, where we’d seen a herd in a visit a few years ago, but the ranger report this year indicated that the sheep hadn’t visited in a week.  We waited for two hours, anyway, before giving up.

This “I Saw an Elk in the Rocky Mountains” hand towel was a gift from friends who knew how excited I was to finally see some elk.

We were returning from our second no-elk trip from RMNP, when friends texted me that there were seven bull elk lounging right outside our condominium building! My friends seen one or two elk before, but the elk had always eluded me. On our way to the condo, we saw a large herd of elk — females led by a big bull elk. They were so magnificent.  There were elk all over the town of Estes Park!  We went from visual famine, to visual feast.

The elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) is one of the largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, in the world, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and Northeast Asia.

This bull elk groomed himself after rubbing his antlers against a tree near a condominium parking lot in Estes Park, Colorado, in early November. The rutting season was over, and this guy missed out on romance, but he’s keeping himself in shape and looking good. Maybe next year he’ll find success. In the meantime, he’s hanging out with his other male friends.

In early November, the rutting season was over, but these two bull elk decided to spar a little. They apparently didn’t attract any lady elk this year, but it doesn’t hurt to practice for next year’s mating season.

In Estes Park, Colorado, elk graze in neighborhood yards and freely travel the streets and highways. In the lower right photo, a bull elk bugles to his herd of females to follow him.

A herd of female elk, plus one bull elk, rest on a traffic island in Estes Park, Colorado. I took this photo through the car window, so it’s not that great, but it does give you an idea of how much the elk feel at home in the town.

 

Bull Elk Bugling, Estes Park, Colorado Photo Print

Bull Elk Bugling, Estes Park, Colorado

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Elephants in the Mist

#WorldElephantDay

I’m reblogging an earlier blog post in honor of World Elephant Day. The post includes my husband’s video of about two dozen elephants moving quickly and silently through the forests in MalaMala Game Reserve in South Africa on their way into Kruger National Park in January 2013.

On a misty morning in January 2013, our group climbed into a Land Rover for a game drive through MalaMala Game Reserve in South Africa.   January is one of the rainiest months in this area of South Africa.  That morning, we were lucky that it was only sporadically sprinkling.  Birds were calling, but it was otherwise very quiet except for the rumble of the Land Rover’s engine.  We never knew what we’d see.  There was a surprise around every bend in the road. That morning we’d already seen a pride of lions lounging by a creek bed after a night of feasting (We’d seen some of the feasting, too). (

Read the rest of the post by clicking on the link below “Elephants in the Mist”.

 

via Elephants in the Mist

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August 12, 2018 · 8:32 am