Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Rocky racoon and the friendly flamingos...

      Featuring a visit to...

My information about each species here is a mixture of what I read on Drusillas own website, research, and even a few little facts I already knew. 

Let's begin with the apes and monkeys shall we. Gibbons are lesser apes and like all apes, have no tail.
Lar Gibbons, also known as white-handed gibbons are mainly found in Southeast Asia and in a small portion of South Asia. They live in small family groups of a male, female and offspring. Lar Gibbons have one baby at a time which stays with its parents until it is about eight. Status: Endangered.

I have to say that looking at these animals through a telephoto lens, there is something very moving about their eyes...

Lar Gibbon (Hylobates lar)

Lar Gibbon (Hylobates lar)

Squirrel monkeys are highly active and inquisitive monkeys. They are found in the forests of South America, usually close to rivers or streams. They live in large groups of up to 200 individuals. Status: Common.

Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri boliviensis boliviensis)
Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri boliviensis boliviensis)

Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri boliviensis boliviensis)

Easily recognised by their large-white moustaches, the Emperor Tamarin is a small species of monkey that lives in the forests of Brazil, Peru and Bolivia. Groups of Emperor Tamarins often form mixed groups with another species. Babies are carried around by their fathers. Status: Common.

Emperor Tamarin (Saguinus imperator)

Flamingos are next. The ones at Drusillas are Chilean Flamingos. These are one of the larger species at up to 1.5 metres. Found on high-mountain lakes in flocks of several thousand birds in Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Females lay a single egg on a nest made of mud. Status: Rare.

Don't you just love they way their knees bend the opposite direction to ours...

Chilean Flamingo (Pheonicopterus chilensis)

These two seemed to be getting quite friendly...

A real favourite of mine now. The Red Panda. Red Pandas are excellent climbers and will often sleep in trees. They forage for food mainly at dusk, nighttime and dawn. Red pandas have a taste for bamboo but, unlike their larger relatives, they eat many other foods as well—fruit, acorns, roots, and eggs. They have an extended wrist bone that functions almost like a thumb and greatly aids their grip. Status: Endangered.

Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens fulgens)

Well they may have been my own personal favourites, but more popular with most folk seemed to be these little creatures...

Meerkat (Suricata suricatta)
Meerkats are a member of the Mongoose family. They live in the dry open land of South-West Africa. They live in social groups of up to 30. Only one pair within the group breed with the others all helping to babysit and look after the young. Status: Common.

North American Beavers live in rivers and lakes from Alaska, to Florida and Mexico. It is North America's largest rodent. The ears and nose are equipped with valve-like flaps that can be closed underwater, while the small eyes have a protective transparent eyelid (nictitating membrane). Owing to the need for a strong foundation for the prominent tree-felling incisors, the beaver has an exceptionally thick and heavy skull and jaw. Status: Common.

North American Beaver (Castor canadensis)

Disappointingly, I subsequently found out that the otters at Drusillas are not our own native species. 

Otters such as these are found in a variety of habitats in both fresh and salt water across South and South-East Asia. They live in social groups of up to twelve individuals. Status: Rare.

Asian Short-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea)

Racoons, or should that be Raccoons? Are native to North America. They can be found in forests, fields, wetlands and even towns.Though previously thought to be solitary, there is now evidence that racoons engage in gender-specific social behaviour. Related females often share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four animals to maintain their positions against foreign males during the mating season, and other potential invaders. Apparently they are know colloquially by a very un-pc name! 

Racoon (Procyon lotor)

The Cape porcupine or South African porcupine, is a species of porcupine native to central and southern Africa. Porcupines are rodents, just like mice, rats and beavers. They can have up to 30,000 quills when fully grown. Contrary to popular myth, quills cannot be fired at enemies but are loosely embedded in the skin and easily shed on contact. When threatened, it erects its quills and backs towards its assailant. Careless predators may end up with quills so deeply embedded that fatal wounds can develop. Status: Common.

Cape Porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis)

Don't you think that this one looks like it has 2 eyes on this side of its head?

And that's about all for the zoo trip. It was a good visit and this is by no means a comprehensive record of the animals they have. I took 200 plus photos on the day, but have tried to limit the update to the ones that worked best. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

If you can't see this, please click here!

I think it was Winston Churchill who said: "To improve is to change:to be perfect is to change often." Then again, he also said: "Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm."

And so, with the vain hope of improvement and no loss of enthusiasm, I am starting this particular update in a slightly different way. Whilst you peruse these first couple of additions, I shall creep away to change my togs again; after all.. "To improve is to change: to be perfect is to change often."

On first sight do you see anything wrong with this image? 

It struck me right away that the image on the packaging is of a hoverfly. A harmless hoverfly! I determined to write them and point out the error of their ways, just to satisfy myself really, because I can't see that little old me can make any difference. I fired of a 'snotty' email thus:

A couple of days later, this reply arrived:

A worthwhile exercise for me? Who can tell, but at least I feel better for alerting them. There is way too much misinformation out there already.


Included in a separate email, from a different source today, was this (well worth sharing) howler...


So.....(Don't you just hate how people start every sentence with the word 'so'?) I know it irritates me. Yes, I know I just used it I recently read an article by somebody called Christina Sterbenz in the 'Business Insider' who proclaimed: "The "so" boom is likely a natural progression of language — not a spinoff of tech-industry jargon. And it's helping us communicate better. "

Before you run away with the impression that I am a miserly old f**t who likes nothing more than to moan thricely, and yes, I did just invent that I guess moving on might be appropriate? So...

The Orange Ladybird ( Halyzia sedecimguttata)

Oh! Whilst you were looking at that photograph I consulted the great Lord Google, who informed me that I did not invent the word thricely. Damn, not as creative as I thought then.

I couldn't say whether this year has been a bad one for our ladybirds but for myself, I have found that my tally of species is low for 2016. As of today, I think my total is 12 which is reasonable I suppose, but lower than some years. Of course, we are not done with 2016 yet.

More from my trip in April (maybe 'trip' is not the right choice of word for San Francisco?)

1.) Pyrgus communis: The Common Checkered-skipper
2.) Leaf-footed Bug-poss: Leptoglossus occidentalis (similar ones)
3.) The American Bison (Bison bison), also commonly known as the American Buffalo
4.) Pyrgus communis again
5.) Crab Spider-poss: Ground Crab Spider (Xysticus ferox)

6.) Johnson’s Jumping Spider-Phidippus johnsoni
7.) Unknown Sawfly Larva
8.) Lace Bug: Tingidae

9.) Lygocoris sp. Poss L.pabulinus (Common Green Capsid)
10.) Crab Spider poss: Ground Crab Spider (Xysticus ferox)
11.) Bold Jumping Spider: Phidippus audax
12.) Hoverfly: Poss Myathropa sp.
13.) Unknown Hoverfly Larva

Not my very best photography but I think I was a little overawed by the whole experience, plus I had a reduced macro-kit because of the traveling. I loved the jumping spiders though and would have brought one home to the UK if I could! 


Back in 2012 I found a bug that hadn't been recorded locally for quite sometime...

 Identified as Cimbex connatus, a species of sawfly larva which was last seen in Kent 108 years ago. Well yesterday, after a break of almost exactly 4 years, I spotted another...

Apparently this sawfly is increasing in numbers at some rate now. The expansion of Cimbex connatus in the UK might be linked to the increasing use of Italian alder trees

I aslo found this Figwort Sawfly larva (Tenthredo scrophulariae)

A wet hopper...

A female Speckled-bush Cricket...

And this miniature drama...

Again, this isn't a brilliantly detailed picture but the mite here is about 2mm long and so you can imagine the size of the unfortunate springtail it is feeding on.

And strangely this is a bug that I usually find in the garden but instead, was my first sighting of a Rhopalid bug in Comfort's Wood...

Rhopalus subrufus-A Rhopalid Bug

And so dear friends it is time to draw the curtains on yet another blog update. Thank-you for taking time to read, or even just look at my photos...