Earth Changes


Symbolic? 2 bald eagles crash to ground after mid-air battle in Sarasota, Florida

© Jeffrey Luggar
A Florida Fish and Wildlife biologist was in the right place at the right time for one lucky bald eagle.

In a Facebook post, FWC says traffic on a Sarasota road screeched to a halt as drivers witnessed an "epic mid-air battle" between two eagles. Still fighting, the two birds crash landed into a nearby muddy ditch.

A 16-year-old girl saw the fight and told her mom that one of the eagles needed her help. She would be a good choice to come to the animal's aid; Michelle van Deventer is both an FWC biologist and Florida's bald eagle coordinator!

Van Deventer pulled to the side of the road and jumped into the ditch after seeing the winning eagle fly off, leaving the loser behind. With help from the Wildlife Center of Venice and Sarasota County Animal Services, she was able to secure the exhausted and stressed bald eagle.

The male eagle was taken to a WCV clinic and kept overnight. After determining it had no serious injuries, it was safely released the following morning.
Black Cat

Bobcat attacks dog in Chelmsford, Massachusetts

Sightings of the wild animal are on the rise throughout the state.

Chelmsford, like many neighboring towns, is seeing its share of bobcats in the area. But after a neighborhood dog was attacked, some residents want them relocated.

The Miller family of North Chelmsford told WHDH, 7-News a bobcat attacked their dog and the vet bills are climbing into the thousands. The dog is recovering from his injuries, and the family is glad he survived. Now the Millers and others want the bobcats removed.

Neighbors told the news station there's a family of four bobcats they've been seeing for weeks. But relocating them is unlikely to happen. State guidelines don't allow for wild animals to be removed or relocated.

Comment: See also: Bobcat attacks and kills family dog in Ahwatukee, Arizona

Bobcat attacks woman sitting on a bench in Solvang, California

Massachusetts man attacked by bobcat in his garage

Bobcat attacks hiker's dogs near Squamish, Canada

Ice Cube

Prompted by frigid temperatures, early Loon migration underway

As freezing air swept into the Upper Midwest this past week, juvenile common loons took a cue from the weather and began their migrations to the warm Gulf of Mexico. By this past Monday, eight young loons, recently tagged by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners, had reached the Gulf of Mexico from the midwestern United States, and eight were en route to southern wintering areas. The scientists captured and radiomarked the juvenile common loons on lakes scattered across Minnesota and Wisconsin during the last two weeks of August 2014 to study the challenges facing these birds during their first two years, when they are most vulnerable.

"Midwest loons are susceptible to avian botulism in the Great Lakes and pollution found in U.S. waters during migration and overwintering," said Kevin Kenow, USGS lead scientist for the study. "Resource managers need information on the iconic birds' first critical years to develop effective conservation strategies."

Common loons are large, black-and-white, fish-eating waterbirds with haunting calls and are bioindicators, or living gages of ecosystem health, in the Great Lakes states. The survival rate of loons during their first few years of life - about 50 percent over three years - is much lower than that of adults, which have a rate of about 93 percent annually.
Snowflake Cold

Cold weather in Jacksonville, FL breaks record set in 1873; 1,998 records broken over the past 7 days

Thursday morning not only broke an "ancient" record from 1873, but we also dropped to the second coldest temperature ever recorded in the month of November in Jacksonville.

According to the National Weather Service, for the second morning in a row, Jacksonville set a new cold weather record. Thursday mornings temperature dropped to a bone chilling 24 degrees breaking the old record of 30 degrees set in 1873.

If that wasn't cold enough for you, Thursday's 24 degrees also marks the second lowest temperature ever recorded in the month of November, beaten out only by the year 1970 when the mercury dropped to 21 degrees in Jacksonville in November.

Some areas around Woodbine, GA flirted with the upper teens as the temperature officially there dropped to 20 degrees.

Any thoughts that the winter of 2014-2015 wouldn't be as bone-chilling as last year's may have just been put on thin ice. And it's only November.

Tuesday morning was the coldest Nov. 19 across the United States since 1976, some 38 years, according to Dr. Ryan Maue, meteorologist with WeatherBell. The average temperature across the entire country was just 19.4°.

An astounding 226 million people in all 50 states, that includes the tropical paradise of Hawaii, were below freezing at the same time putting an exclamation point on an already paralyzing winter season -- that hasn't even officially started yet.
Locations approaching or surpassing record temperatures on Wednesday morning.
Even Florida didn't escape the icy grip.

Pack of dogs kills 8-year-old girl on Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota

© Emily Spartz / Argus Leader
Pine Ridge, S.D.
Pine Ridge authorities are looking for a pack of dogs that attacked and killed an 8-year-old girl Tuesday, and are warning parents not to leave their children outdoors unsupervised.

Deputy Police Chief John Mousseau said Wednesday that the girl, who has not been identified, was attacked around 5 p.m. while sledding near her family's home along Highway 407 just south of Pine Ridge.

He would not release details of the incident, but said his department was "devoting every resource available to locate the responsible pack." They had not found it as of Wednesday evening.

Police Chief Ron Duke told the Rapid City Journal that the girl's death has renewed concerns about packs of dogs moving unrestrained in every district of the reservation. Duke was urging parents to not leave their children outdoors unsupervised until this particular pack was located.

Comment: See also: Feral dog pack found to have killed woman on Wyoming Indian reservation

Bizarro Earth

Sinkhole opens up near old mine in Russia's Ural Mountains

sinkhole russia urals

The sinkhole was first discovered by Uralkali's Solikamsk-2 mine workers on November 18. According to local emergency services, it's located some two miles from the mine itself, in an old abandoned mine.
A sinkhole 20 by 30 meters (65 by 98 feet) in size has been found near a Uralkali mine in Russia's Perm region. While the company says the development is of no further threat, locals fear the whole nearby town could go underground.

The sinkhole was first discovered by Uralkali's Solikamsk-2 mine workers on November 18. According to local emergency services, it's located some two miles from the mine itself, in an old abandoned mine.

Old, out-of-use garden patches were affected by the accident, and there is no danger to locals, as the sinkhole is in no close proximity to any residential buildings, the company said.

There are no "catastrophic" effects of the sinkhole neither for the company, nor for the locals, Uralkali CEO Dmitry Osipov said, adding that the incident has been localised.

Comment: Sinkholes are becoming a common occurrence - here is a global map of sinkholes reported just this year alone:


Mysterious glowing worm has been discovered lighting up the soil in the Peruvian rainforest

© Jeff Cremer/
Shown in extreme closeup is a mysterious glow worm that was discovered in the Peruvian rainforest.
A mysterious glowing worm has been discovered lighting up the soil in the Peruvian rainforest. The strange glow worms, which are thought to be the larval stage of an as-yet-unidentified species of beetle, may use their phosphorescence to lure unsuspecting flies and ants into their waiting, open jaws.

Ants or termites will "fly right into their jaws, and then they'll just clamp shut and that's their meal," said Aaron Pomerantz, an entomologist who works with a rainforest expedition company at the Refugio Amazonas near the Tambopata Research Center in Peru, where the glowing larvae were discovered.

In tests, the glow worms readily devoured stick insects and termites, Pomerantz said. Their style of attack seems similar to that of the enormous, man-eating worms in the 1990 campy movie Tremors, albeit at a much smaller scale, he said.
"They're underground, and they burst from the earth," Pomerantz told Live Science.
Bizarro Earth

Two earthquakes strike San Francisco Bay area in a span of 5 minutes - shaking felt in South Bay

San Juan Bautista - Two moderate earthquakes have struck central California, one of which was widely felt across the region. The U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude-3.6 earthquake struck at 10:21 p.m. Wednesday and a magnitude-4.2 temblor struck five minutes later. At least one smaller quake followed later.

The epicenter was about 2 miles south of San Juan Bautista and 11 miles northeast of Salinas. Nearly 1,500 people reported on the USGS website that they felt the first quake and more than 30 reported the second.

USGS data
Bizarro Earth

Mýrdalsjökull Ice Cap: Iceland's Katla Volcano is 'due a big eruption'

After and before shot shows how ice cap has changed.
A volcano sitting beneath Iceland's Mýrdalsjökull ice cap is due for a "big" eruption, Nasa has said. Satellite images showing Mýrdalsjökull reveal the ice cap has shrunk dramatically over the last 30 years, and experts believe this is a result of recent volcanic episodes.

Comment: Well, it's nice to see the 'experts' didn't blame the shrinkage on 'global warming'.

The images, from Nasa's Earth Observatory, show before and after photos of the ice cap - the first from September 2014, the second from September 1986.

More than half of Iceland's ice caps and glaciers sit either directly above or near active volcanoes, meaning fire and ice often unite.

Additional images

Impressive Arctic owls return to Plum Island, Massachusetts

© BRYAN EATON/Staff photo
A snowy owl is perched on a utility pole on Beach Road in Salisbury across from the entrance to Salisbury Beach State Reservation last winter.
After a banner season last winter, the snowy owls are back."These animals are constantly moving around and they don't stay around very long," Parker River National Wildlife Refuge visitor services manager Matt Poole said. "You may hear that there is a snowy owl or a pair of snowy owls that have been seen on Plum Island for maybe a week but it is very possible that those are not the same individuals. They come in and they move through, maybe moving further south to where they are finally going to be for the winter. But if they leave, there may be more animals coming in behind them."

The powerful raptors made wildly popular in the Harry Potter novels and films, have already been spotted and photographed at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge this week."It is typically not a resident bird, if you will," Poole said. "They are a very popular winter bird in this area. They are something that all the birders hope will be around. Given the huge number of them last year, contrast that with the year before when as far as I know there was only one sighted the entire winter. It is highly variable."

While exact numbers are not known, snowy owls were spotted in the area regularly from November of last year through May of 2014 and with their return this month, birders are hoping for another big year. But each year is different for the nomadic bird, said Poole.