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The Strange Life Cycle of the Ladybug

Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Ladybug has something of a strange life cycle and one that surprises many people. From egg to fully grown ladybug, join us on a journey of a lifetime - literally!

The ladybug will always try and mate as close to a colony of aphids as possible. The ladybug loves aphids and will eat many of them each day.

I’m New!

If you have had a stressful day then grab a drink, sit back and just take this all in.  Created by Sander van Schie, this short film simply allows us to watch as new life takes to the water in the form of ducklings and baby coots.  That’s pretty much it (except an appearance by a heron!) but that is all you will need – hopefully – to unwind and simply enjoy this marvellous example of what nature has to offer us.

Manta Ray Rescue

Every year millions of animals die as a result of items being discarded in to the ocean.  In this case it is a tangle of fishing line which has managed to wind itself around a huge manta ray.  The animal must have been in agony – as the camera comes closer you can see the huge rips in its skin caused where the line has driven inwards.  It must have only been a matter of time before the pain and the wounds bettered the manta ray and it died.

Fortunately, it was encountered by a group of Undersea Hunter divers at Cocos Island off the shore of Costa Rica.  They were able to cut the manta ray free with a diving knife, releasing it after goodness knows how long.  One can only ponder on the ability of a large fish, such as the ray, being able to experience relief or even gratitude but it certainly seems to know that it has been released from its bondage.

This extraordinary footage was made by Paul Slater and Don Shellhammer.

Sanctuary of 700

Cats, cats, everywhere!  If you feel overwhelmed by two or three cats paying you attention then perhaps you should look away now!  Cat House on the Kings in California is currently home to 700 cats and kittens which, for a number of reasons, have lost their own place of safety and need somewhere to stay before they are adopted.

It’s quite a sight as the place has a no-cage policy which means that the cats are free to wander everywhere which, being cats, of course they do!

Run by the redoubtable Lynea Lattanzio, The Cat House began life over two decades ago and despite initial problems with permission to provide shelter to so many cats, has gone from strength to strength ever since.  Ms Lattanzio’s ultimate aim is, frankly, to go out of business.  Through educating the public she wants the need for this kind of place to become a thing of the past.  Eleanor Abernathy, the crazy cat lady from The Simpsons she ain’t.

Elizabeth Nelson, a graduating film student at Northern Arizona University, visited this fascinating place and created this lovely short documentary.  Although The Cat House does do tours, most of you reading this will be far away from California. So, take a guided tour around the facility and meet the staff, including Ms Lattanzio who tells us how the whole thing started.

The word sanctuary doesn’t fully or properly describe this place.  It’s a veritable Shangri-La for cats.  You can also learn a lot more about it at its website, The Cat House on the Kings.

Magpies: Not only Black and White

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Eurasian magpie (left) is one of the few species of birds which can recognise itself in a mirror test.  As they stand out so much with their black and white plumage you might imagine that this is something which is relatively easy to do.  After all, when we think of magpies we think in black and white too!  Yet magpies are not only black and white.  There are other species which belie the general belief that all magpies are: here are some exceptions that prove the rule.

The Common Green Magpie
Image Credit Jasonbkk
Around the size of a Eurasian jay this magpie is a vivid green with a thick black stripe from the bill to the nape which crosses the eyes, giving it a vaguely superhero-in-disguise look (although this bird is probably more villain than hero).  To see one in the wild you would have to go to the Himalayas, central Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra and Broneo.  The common green magpie (Cissa chinensis) makes its home in evergreen forest and is hunts small mammals and reptiles.  It will often raid the nests of other birds and carry away young birds or, if they are not yet hatched, will devour the eggs before making their getaway.

Cool Facts about Snails

Saturday, 2 May 2015

If you have ever wondered how snails get about, which of their ‘eyes’ they use to see, how strong they are or even how long they live then you have come to the right place! This is the first episode of The Macro Life by Rubber Knife Productions and features all those essential facts about snails that you always meant to ask but never quite got around to.  With a jocular narration by Jeremy Linn, this look at the macro life of snails is hugely enjoyable.

Watch as Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks Save their Ducklings from an American Alligator

The black-bellied whistling duck makes its nest as high as possible to avoid predators.  As you can see here, the bird house wasn’t exactly planned for this family!

Yet when the time comes for the ducklings to leap from the safety of the box in to the water the last thing the parents want is all their hard work to disappear in to the belly of an American alligator.  When it looks as if this is likely, the plucky parent leaps in to action and drives away the reptilian onslaught!

This remarkable footage was shot and edited by Tara Tanaka

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