Urban Wildlife

20140112_124358It isn’t the greatest wildlife photo in the world; not wishing to loose the opportunity, I used my mobile phone rather than run and search for a proper camera.

We often see foxes at night.

This is our first full daylight fox. He (or she?) was quite relaxed and in apparently good condition, enjoying the cold wind and a good look around the alley way and back gardens.

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Within The Den

DSC_1449I am reading Lack London’s arctic novels right now. The Call Of The Wild at first, and it’s companion, White Fang, right now. When I read these books first, many years ago as a teenager, I didn’t understand much beyond the adventure, but I now appreciate the superb story-telling and writing Jack’s done. He wrote this stuff around 1900, give or take a few years.

There was no David Attenborough to explain it all, and neither Heinz Sielmann or Professor Grzimek were born at the time (Professor Grzimek was close, being born in 1909, but he wasn’t born as a professor or a natural world TV presenter). There were no tiny or remote controlled cameras to be send inside a wolf’s den in Jack’s days. Watching modern wildlife documentaries makes us think that all this knowledge is only just emerging thanks to modern technology and brave cameramen, but if you think this is so, you should read Jack’s books.

The description of events inside the den and the details of the wolves’ awareness show a great deal of knowledge, imagination and “educated guessing” on Jack’s part. It’s quite something.

The most revolutionary part, in my opinion, is the fact that he never humanizes the animals. He describes them as beings aware of their surroundings, as beings with intelligence, decision-making facility, the capability to learn and that of a consciousness, but he never presents a dog’s or wolves’ thoughts in human terms. There is no trivializing here at all, and a great deal more of realism, and a great deal less of adventure than what I remembered from my youth.

I got Jack London’s Complete Works on my Kindle now. The biggest e-Book I have, cause he was a short-lived yet prolific writer, and I am in love with his work.


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A Clever Bird

DSCF3606I went kayaking on the Elkhorn Slough at Moss Landing, just a little north of Monterey, on the weekend. $30 for an all-day boat rental, inclusive of wetsuit, windbreaker and life jacket at Monterey Kayaks; you really can’t ask for a better deal.

The inlet was heaving with seals, otters, sea lions, and their pups, and the whole thing was good fun and superb value for money in spite of a strong tide pushing in, and a strong breeze freshening up during the cause of the day. This makes the first part of the journey really easy, but it turned out to be a good workout coming back. A good thing that I followed the advise of the rental guys and didn’t take too far up on the inlet.

Amidst the sea mammals, the inlet if crowded with birds. Geese, ducks, pelicans, herons, all kinds of water birds, and of course seagulls. In the end, I found myself watching a seagull more than anything, because the bird had discovered a clever hunting strategy:

I sat adrift and enjoyed my sandwich, watching a mother otter and her pup diving for mussels, and suspiciously eyeing the seagull from the corner of my eye. As it turned out, this particular seagull had no interest in my delicious sandwich. Instead, the bird was watching the otters just like I did, but with different intentions.

I don’t think the young otter got any mussels, but back on the surface, the mother opens up some and shares her catch – it’s the cutest thing to watch.

Enter the seagull.

She hassles the otters until they give up and dive away, while dropping their catch. The seagull dives, and enjoys a nutritious shellfish meal.

Clever, ey?

You want to hate the bird, because the bird is nasty and the otters are cute, but I couldn’t help admiring the strategy.


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