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Sat, 25 Jan 2020
The World for People who Think



Wrong place, wrong time: 3 summer tanagers that normally winter in Central, South America turn up around San Francisco

A bright red summer tanager made San Francisco's Glen Park Canyon home in January 2019.
© SF Rec And Park
A bright red summer tanager made San Francisco's Glen Park Canyon home in January 2019.
A brilliant red bird — the sort you'd expect to find in a tropical forest — has made an unusual appearance in San Francisco's Glen Canyon Park.

The summer tanager is what birders call a "vagrant," a bird that ends up far from its usual migratory destination.

The medium-size song bird typically breeds in southern portions of the United States and migrates to Central America and northern South America for the winter. Dylan Hayes, who has worked in the canyon as a San Francisco Recreation and Parks naturalist for more than 15 years, said he has never seen this species in the city.


Monarch butterflies in California at critically low level for 2nd year in a row

Monarch butterfly
© Smith Collection/gado/Getty Images
A monarch butterfly collects nectar from a flower in the People's Garden, in Washington, D.C. in 2014.
The number of monarch butterflies wintering in California remains at a critically low level, according to a new study.

The total number of monarchs observed this year during The Xerces Society Thanksgiving count was 29,418, according a press release issued Thursday by the nonprofit, which focuses on conserving invertebrates.

While that number is slightly higher than the 2018-2019 count -- which saw an all-time low of 27,218 -- the organization warned that this year's numbers "are no better."

Comment: As we are seeing with most life on our planet, it's likely that what's affecting the butterflies is the impact of humanity, but a more significant contributor could be Earth Changes: Also check out SOTT radio's:


Iguanas fall from trees in south Florida as temperatures drop

Frozen iguanas falling from trees in South Florida

Iguanas falling from trees in South Florida
Cold-stunned iguanas fell from trees in South Florida Wednesday morning as temperatures in Miami hit 40 degrees - the lowest recorded there in more than nine years.

The National Weather Service in Miami issued a "falling iguanas" alert on Tuesday.

"This isn't something we usually forecast, but don't be surprised if you see Iguanas falling from the trees tonight as lows drop into the 30s and 40s," the agency tweeted Tuesday. "Brrrr!"

Some residents of South Florida tweeted photos and videos of cold-stunned iguanas Wednesday morning.


Wrong place, wrong time: Cape May warbler that normally winters in the West Indies turns up in Las Cruces, New Mexico

The famed Cape May warbler of Las Cruces' Tellbrook Park pauses in a mesquite in January 2020.
© Jimmy Zabriskie
The famed Cape May warbler of Las Cruces' Tellbrook Park pauses in a mesquite in January 2020.
Even on its summer breeding grounds in Canada and the northernmost states of the US, Cape May warblers are by no means common. In the eastern states, they're most often seen during migration — in fall, mostly moving through the Appalachian Mountains and along the Atlantic coast, and in spring, usually east of the Mississippi Valley. They are extremely rare throughout the West. The great majority winters in the West Indies, with a few in southernmost Florida and along the Caribbean coast. Thus, for one to turn up in January most anywhere in the states but Florida, let alone a city park in Las Cruces, New Mexico, is downright astonishing, but one indeed did, at Tellbrook Park just a couple of weeks ago.

The tiny wayward bird was first spotted by a sharp-eyed local birder, who promptly reported the sighting to the online eBird community's rare bird network, and the news quickly spread. Beginning the next day, not only locals got to enjoy watching what proved to be an unusually obliging bird, but also some of the more serious birders from other parts of New Mexico traveled to see a bird that is hardly ever encountered in our state, and thereby add another species to their state or county bird list. Only once has a Cape May warbler been documented in neighboring El Paso County, that being in 1983, so this January 2020 occurrence, a definite first for Doña Ana County, was truly remarkable.

Black Cat

Mountain lion attacks small child at California park

A mountain lion attacked a 3-year-old boy and then grabbed his father's backpack and climbed into a tree in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Trabuco Canyon, Calif., on Jan. 20, 2020.
© Orange County Sheriff's Department
A mountain lion attacked a 3-year-old boy and then grabbed his father's backpack and climbed into a tree in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Trabuco Canyon, Calif., on Jan. 20, 2020.
A small child was attacked by a mountain lion at a Southern California park on Monday, causing authorities to evacuate the scene while they raced to capture the wild cat.

A 3-year-old boy was rushed to the hospital after the animal grabbed him by the neck as he and his family walked through Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Trabuco Canyon, about an hour south of Los Angeles, officials said.

The child was transported to a local hospital and was listed in stable condition, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

The attack happened at around 4:15 p.m. local time.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife gave local law enforcement the approval to euthanize the lion due to the public safety threat, the agency said.


At least 20 dead birds show up in Matlacha Isles, Florida

dead birds
Neighbors said dead birds have been showing all over Matlacha Isles for the last few days. Beatrice Storino counted up to 20 grackle birds since Friday.

"I hope it's not a flu or something that's going around that can contaminate the other birds or the fish," she said. "Just like to know what the heck's going on."

Frances Martorella has a few ideas of what might have caused all these bird death.

"I thought maybe somebody's poisoning them. Or they've got a disease or something that's killing them," she said.


The elephant in the room!

Elephant in the Room
© Netskope
Visitors to a Sri Lankan hotel had to contend with an unexpected guest when a wild elephant took a stroll through the lobby.

The video, which was shared on Twitter, shows the animal moving almost silently through what appears to be the lobby, gently investigating items with its trunk.

The curious elephant nudges over a desk lamp at one point, before casually wandering on.

Comments on the video poured in, with one wit saying: "Now let's talk about the elephant in the room."

Fireball 5

Meteorite impact, not volcanoes led to dino extinction says study

Impact Event
© Stock Adobe
Volcanic activity did not play a direct role in the mass extinction event that killed the dinosaurs, according to an international, Yale-led team of researchers. It was all about the asteroid.

In a break from a number of other recent studies, Yale assistant professor of geology & geophysics Pincelli Hull and her colleagues argue in a new research paper in Science that environmental impacts from massive volcanic eruptions in India in the region known as the Deccan Traps happened well before the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago and therefore did not contribute to the mass extinction.

Most scientists acknowledge that the mass extinction event, also known as K-Pg, occurred after an asteroid slammed into Earth. Some researchers also have focused on the role of volcanoes in K-Pg due to indications that volcanic activity happened around the same time.

"Volcanoes can drive mass extinctions because they release lots of gases, like SO2 and CO2, that can alter the climate and acidify the world," said Hull, lead author of the new study. "But recent work has focused on the timing of lava eruption rather than gas release."


Worst locust swarms in East Africa for 25 years posing an unprecedented threat to food security

Locust swarm, Kenya

The insects are devouring crops with Kenya one of the worst affected
The most serious outbreak of locusts in 25 years is spreading across East Africa with a single swarm covering an area one-and-a-half times the size of Greater London.

Unusual climate conditions are partially to blame for the plague, which is posing an unprecedented threat to food security in some of the world's most vulnerable countries.

The insects are devouring crops, with Kenya one of the worst countries to be affected.

One swarm measured 60km (37 miles) by 40km (25 miles) in the country's northeast.

A spokesman for the country's Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) said: "A typical desert locust swarm can contain up to 150 million locusts per square kilometre.

"Swarms migrate with the wind and can cover 100 to 150 kilometres in a day.

"An average swarm can destroy as much food crops in a day as is sufficient to feed 2,500 people."

Comment: At least 360 000 ha (890 000 acres) of crops have been affected in Rajasthan, northern India which is currently in the midst of the state's worst locust infestation in 60 years.

Locust outbreaks from last year include:


Rare Assyrian stone relief discovered in Iraq

Ancient Relief Iraq
© Isabella Finzi Contini
Ancient reliefs rarely found outside of palaces depict a procession of Assyrian gods, including the main deity Assur and his consort Mullissu, standing on lions, dragons, and other animals.
In the eighth century BC, Assyrian King Sargon II ruled over a wealthy and powerful empire that included much of today's Middle East and inspired fear among its neighbors. Now a team of Italian and Iraqi Kurdish archeologists working in northern Iraq have uncovered ten stone reliefs that adorned a sophisticated canal system dug into bedrock.

The surprising find of such beautifully crafted carvings — typically found only in royal palaces — sheds light on the impressive public works supported by a leader better known for his military prowess, msn.com reported.

"Assyrian rock reliefs are extremely rare monuments," said Daniele Morandi Bonacossi, an archeologist at Italy's University of Udine, who co-led the recent expedition. With one exception, no such panels have been found in their original location since 1845.

"And it is highly probable that more reliefs, and perhaps also monumental celebratory cuneiform inscriptions, are still buried under the soil debris that filled the canal."

The site near the town of Faida, close to the border with Turkey, has been largely closed to researchers for a half century due to modern conflict. In 1973 a British team noted the tops of three stone panels, but tensions between Kurds and the Baathist regime in Baghdad prevented further work.

An expedition led by Morandi Bonacossi returned in 2012 and found six more reliefs. The subsequent invasion by Daesh terrorist group again halted research efforts.ffer