Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

            I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself. – D. H. Lawrence

 Think Again

I suspect even a big old moose could feel sorry for itself if another male won its girl from him. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I suspect even a big old moose could feel sorry for itself if another male won its girl from him. — Photo by Pat Bean

            While I’ve always accepted, as fact, that animals have feelings and thoughts and can grieve, I might once have seen the above quote as simply inspirational. I mean I agree with its philosophy that we shouldn’t feel sorry for ourselves.

Pepper curls up into a ball, eyes drooping, giving every indication that she feels sorry for herself when she knows she's being left behind. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Pepper curls up into a ball, eyes drooping, giving every indication that she feels sorry for herself when she knows she’s being left behind. — Photo by Pat Bean

But time, and my love and observation of animals, have convinced me that animals can, and do, sometimes feel sorry for themselves. Why not? They are, after all, intelligent beings, who clearly display emotions of joy and sadness.

I once had a dog that showed clear signs of depression after my cat, which had been her long-time companion, died. And my current canine companion, Pepper, clearly shows signs of feeling sorry for herself every time she knows she’s going to be left alone at home. As I go out the door, she slinks into a corner, droops her head, and stares, with her velvet brown eyes, accusingly at me.

Thankfully, she’s a dog and holds no grudges — which is more of a cat trait — and greets me with uninhibited joy when I return.

While I don’t know what Pepper does to console herself when she’s in a Pity-Pepper mode, I do know what I do when a Pity-Pat mood strikes me. I simply think of all the people in the world who would gladly trade places with me – and I realize just how many millions that would be.

Sometimes we simply need to rethink things – like D.H. Lawrence’s popular quote.            

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

  Bean Pat:  Janaline’s World Journey http://tinyurl.com/pskalcm I loved this delightful arm chair journey to visit the Temple of Ta Prohm, and now want to go back and watch Tomb Raider so I can view the scenes in which it was featured, just as I revisited the movie, Master and Commander, after visiting, in actuality, one of its filming sites in the Galapagos Islands. Since the world is so big, and my travels are limited by time and money, I’m thankful for being able to view some of them from my comfortable home. Thank you Janaline.

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Thomas Young together with Snow, his gyrfalcon/peregrine hybrid bird. Both were 37 years old in 2006 when I took this photo.

 “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi

One Man’s Love of Animals

Togetherness: Sheena may be a cougar but she acts as if she's right where she belongs. -- Photo by Pat Bean

During my 2006 wanderings, I came across Queen Wilhelmina State Park near Mena. Arkansas. One of its attractions at that time was a small zoo and wildlife sanctuary operated by Thomas Young, a wildlife rehabilitator.

The zoo animals included a bear, a timber wolf cub, orphaned fawns, bobcats, wild turkeys, hawks, owls, raccoons – and a cougar named Sheena. Almost all of them had been injured at some point in time.

The side of a small unpainted wooden building on the property told the real story of this place. Large white lettering boldly announced that 12 bears, 5,000 hawks, 2,000 owls, 22 bald eagles, 18 golden eagles and thousands of small mammals had been released back into the wild by Young. The $4 entry fee to the zoo helped cover his expenses.

It was while I was questioning Paul, a volunteer and apprentice falconer working with Young, that I saw Tom for the first time.

Paul pointed him out to me as the long-haired man who had just appeared with a turkey neck in his hand to feed a wild turkey vulture that had just landed in the park.

As I watched the scene from about 30 feet away, the volunteer told me the vulture was a bird Tom had rehabilitated. Later Tom told me it was actually the parent of the rescued bird. He said it was the first time this particularly vulture had fed from his hand.

I was more amazed that he could tell the difference between two vultures than that a large, society-designated-ugly, wild bird had fed from his hand. .

“For some reason it’s come to trust me,” Tom said of his vulture friend. “A while back it brought its young here for me to babysit while it flew off on some business for about three hours.”

The volunteer had already told me this story in more detail but I was still fascinated with Tom’s less wordy rerun along with a sparse sketch of his life.

This man was a doer not a talker.

Tom said the park’s lofty location in the Ouachita Mountains made it ideal for releasing rehabilitated birds back to the wild. I was privileged to see one such release the next day, an awesome red-shouldered hawk that Tom released from the overlook just beyond the park’s lodge.

The bird simply fall off the edge of the mountain and glided away, one of the most beautiful sights any birder could ever hope to see.

Bean’s Pat: A Traveler’s Tale http://tinyurl.com/brbfpsh Take an armchair tour of a Papua, New Guinea, village.

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 “There is just something spectacular about seeing wildlife in its natural environment that thrills us … Arun Kejriwai

We were too late to catch our leopard up in a tree, but I couldn't resist sharing this Wikipedia photo of this magnificent one out on a limb.

African Safari: A Day to Remember

I welcomed my first morning in the Serengeti from the balcony of our spacious Sopa Lodge suite, breathing in Africa’s morning light that left me eager to start the day. Red-cheeked cordon bleus – what a strange name for a bird – welcomed the morning with me.

After breakfast, and more great African coffee, Bilal picked Kim and I for a full day of wildlife viewing.

Red-cheeked cordon bleu

The day’s fantastic wildlife started as we exited the lodge compound’s gate – beginning with a green wood- hoopoe (another strange bird name) and a troop of baboons that included several babies being lugged around on an adult’s back – and never let up.

We saw impalas, water buffalo, hippos, lions, cheetahs, ostriches, dik-diks, zebras, wildebeest, Nile crocodiles and of course many species of birds – all before we stopped for a nature hike in a developed tourist area where the wildlife were sculptures, well except for the monkeys, one of which tried to steal Kim’s box lunch.

Kim being funny during our nature walk among the wildlife sculptures. -- Photo by Pat Bean

After lunch, I wandered around doing my usual bird hunting until Kim came rushing up telling me to come quick.

Back at the Land Rover, Bilal said “Come on mama,” and then we were off on yet another wild ride.

This time we were racing toward a leopard sighting, which Bilal had learned about while talking Swahil on his radio with other guides. We weren’t the only racers. Only about one in five visitors to Tanzania are lucky enough to see a leopard, we had been told.

Our leopard intently watching a Grant's gazelle. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

It was like a traffic jam at the sighting site when we got there, and learned the leopard had just jumped out of a tree and disappeared.

Then suddenly, as all binoculars were turned toward the distant landscape trying to find the animal, it walked right in front of our Land Rover. Our spot in the traffic turned out to be the best one for leopard watching.

Little bee-eater

Ignoring all the human fuss going on around it, the leopard stayed in the area for the next 30 minutes or so, patiently stalking a Grant’s gazelle. The gazelle finally spotted it, however, and was off and running, while the leopard simply slunk out of sight.

For once, I forgot to look for birds.

Bird Log of New Lifers: Red-cheeked cordon bleu, green wood-hoopoe, red-billed oxpecker, spotted redshank, brown snake eagle, lilac-breasted roller, black crake, sooty chat, blue-capped cordon bleu, speckled-fronted weaver. Verreaux eagle owl, Hilderbrandt’s starling, speckled pigeon, grey-capped social weaver, purple grenadier, lesser masked weaver, wood sandpiper, yellow-breasted apalis, white-headed vulture, hoopoe, little bee-eater, white-bellied bustard, bare-faced go-awaybird, white-browed coucal, Aug. 24, 2007, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.

Next: Swahili

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 “I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend? — Robert Redford

Instead of removing a fallen tree trunk still spouting leaves, a path from the campground to the visitor center goes over the obstacle. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

*Travels With Maggie

I remembered a visit to Zion back in the 1980s when our group got highly chastised by a park ranger because we had put our tent in vegetation slightly behind our assigned site. At the time I wondered why he was being so picky.

Today I saw why.

As I looked around the carefully marked-out camping sites, I saw a return of healthy native vegetation that both accommodated the wild nature of the park and provided a bit of privacy from the neighbors in adjacent sites.

While Zion, with over 2 million visitors annually, will never be the wilderness this country needs to protect, its caretakers have done quite well in maintaining Mother Nature’s ambiance for the masses.

Run by propane, this shuttle bus takes visitors sight-seeing up Zion Canyon. -- Photo by Pat Bean

One of its biggest, and most successful efforts, was the creation of the shuttle bus system for the drive up Zion Canyon.

When I first visited the park in the late 1960s, parking in the canyon at trailheads was never a problem. By the 1980s, as interest in our national parks gained in popularity, it was in disaster mode.

The shuttle buses have not only solved the problem of too many vehicles polluting up the canyon and having nowhere to park, they have encouraged the return of wildlife and returned peace to the landscape. Simply from the window of a shuttle bus I’ve seen wild turkeys, deer, porcupines, squirrels and even once a coyote.

People grumbled about losing their freedom to explore the canyon at will when the bus system first began in 2000. But I’ve never heard a complaint from anyone since who availed themselves of the service.

One can get on and off the buses at all the major canyon attractions, and never during peak season daylight hours have to wait more than 10 minutes for another one to pick them up.

Here’s hoping we all find ways to be kinder to this planet we live on. It’s not just that we need something to defend, we need to take care of our home because it’s the only one we have. .

*Day 15 of my journey, May 3, 2011

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The sign stopped me, the park enchanted me -- Photo by Pat Bean

 “Peace is not the product of a victory or a command. It has no finishing line, no final deadline, no fixed definition of achievement. Peace is a never-ending process. The work of many decisions.” — Oscar Hammerstein

Travels With Maggie

Located on the Arkansas side of the Talimena Scenic Drive before it crosses into Oklahoma, Queen Wilhemina State Park was created in the late 1800s and named after Queen Wilhelmina in hopes the young ruler of the Netherlands would visit.

While the park was only 15 miles from where I had spent the previous night, it looked too inviting to pass by – or stay for just one night. That’s the beauty of having no deadlines to meet. The rain storm that blanked the area for the next few days, and which I wouldn’t have wanted to drive through, confirmed my instincts

Turtles, along with birds, deer and squirrels called Arkansas' Queen Wilhemina park home. -- Photo by Pat Bean

During one break in the storm, I walked up to the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge, where I devoured one of the tastiest cheeseburgers of my life while watching dark storm clouds build up for another burst. There’s something in me that loves a storm, and the sound of rain drumming on my RV roof is as enjoyable as a well-played concert. I was glad, however, that I made it back to the coziness of my RV, with my last bite of cheeseburger wrapped in a napkin for Maggie, before the downpour began anew.

Flowers grew all over the park -- Photo by Pat Bean

Finally the storm ended and I spent the next two days hiking the park’s trails, and watching birds and other wildlife. It was with reluctance that I finally left this special place. It’s too bad Queen Wilhelmina never visited. I’m sure she would have enjoyed her stay.

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