Tag Archives: wildlife

A question of ownership

SealThe city of San Diego as been given 72 hours to remove seals from a beach at the area of La Jolla so that children may use a concrete paddling pool there.  The pool was originally built and gifted to the city by a local philanthropist in the 1930s and nowadays contains such high levels of bacteria that there are signs advising people not to use it …. yet they still do.  (…??!…candidates for the Darwin Awards no doubt…)

As you might expect with one of these ‘man versus the environment’ issues, passions are running high.  City authorities are now at loggerheads with those who say that the seals are a valuable tourist attraction, the seals need a period of rest each day and that the area should instead be made into a sanctuary for the animals.

As the seals are a federally protected marine species, the only suggested solution is to employ someone to walk up and down the beach with a public address system loudly playing the sound of dogs barking .  (Torture for nearby human residents too I would have thought). Of course, passions are so inflamed that authorities feel that the person with the dog barking address system will need police protection – probably 2 officers will do.

I suspect the seals have always visited this beach and maybe back in the 1930s, when La Jolla was a quiet little seaside resort, shared use of the beach by man and animal wasn’t perceived to be a problem.  During the 1990s seal visitors increased and coincidentally, by that time there had also been an explosion of human visitors and residents.

LaJolla_Seals2I was at La Jolla a couple of times in the 1990s and my visits gave me magical memories that I treasure and make me want to visit again some day.  Forget the man-made attractions of cafes, restaurants and up-scale boutiques because I can find those around every corner.  What I can’t easily see in very many places, and therefore made my visit so special that I’d like to return some day, was the beautiful coastline and particularly the ability to get close to a large gathering of wild seals.  People had gathered too – some on the beach just yards away from the seals, some standing up on the little harbour wall.  All of us just quietly watching, all no doubt enjoying an all too rare opportunity to get so close to an aspect of nature that we rarely see.

In my opinion it would be a huge mistake to try to remove the seals.  Not only will it be costly to keep two policemen on ‘seal patrol’,  if the annoying public address system does the trick the seals may move on, but they may well take up residence on the very next beach along, causing a nuisance to swimmers, surfers and beachgoers there.  If they should sadly disappear entirely from the La Jolla area then I think that the town will notice a big drop in visitor numbers.  To me La Jolla without the wildlife is just another pretty coastal town and I (along with many others, I suspect) will have little reason to return.

Then there is the bigger moral question of who really owns this or any other piece of  coastline?  Is it ever ours to trade – to sell or to give away, imposing our will on all those who share it?  I’d argue that the marine life was there long before man and so we have a duty to be good new tenants, finding ways, wherever humanly possible, to discretely share the same space.  Besides which, is it really so difficult for us to find another place for a toddlers’ paddling pool?

La Jolla_Seal beach

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Filed under environment, Green issues, modern life, People watching, Photography, world

Natural pest control

ToadIf your garden is being swallowed up by slimy slugs this Summer help is at hand from the common toad (bufo bufo).  Contrary to popular belief, the common toad is a major friend in the garden, munching his way through not only slugs but several other garden pests such as beetles, earwigs and larvae. 

To encourage Mr Toad to move in, a water feature in the garden is ideal but failing that, if there are already toads nearby just making a simple shallow watering hole will probably do the trick.  You could partly bury an old shallow dish somewhere shady or use one of the trays that you would normally put under pot plants, place a few rocks in there for him to clamber on and fill the tray with water.  Make sure you keep this watering hole topped up during hot weather.  He’ll also need somewhere to live.  Toads like damp, dark places that they can dig down in so old, broken terracotta pots placed on the soil would do the trick .  They actually need remarkably little space to keep them happy,  as I’ve recently found out.  We’ve just removed a wonky old patio and found several toads hiding under the broken paving slabs – I’m happy to report that all toads have now been removed to a place of safety.  It should also go without saying that to encourage any wildlife to your garden you should stop using chemical sprays.

Here are a few toadie facts that you may not know:

  • The common toad can live up to 40 years. 
  • They are mainly nocturnal creatures. 
  • They live for most of the year in damp areas such as deciduous woodland and it is only during the breeding season that they seek out lakes, ponds, ditches and slow-moving water. 
  • Common toads are solitary creatures. 
  • They hibernate in late October. 
  • Only male toads croak.

Get over any squeamishness you may have about frogs and toads in general, welcome their presence in your garden and pretty soon you’ll be happy to be sharing your space with them because of the great job they do in protecting your plants from hungry pests.

More tips specifically on controlling aphids/greenfly can be found on my page here.  For general gardening tips and advice please go to my House/General index.

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Filed under Gardening, General tips

Tiger, tiger

I’m still going through photos from our last holiday.  I got stuck on the batch from Naples Zoo because a zoo is interesting enough when you are there but some of the photos can actually be a little poignant to look at.  They only serve to  remind you that the beautiful creatures you’ve just seen live very different lives to the ones they would live in the wild, despite all the best efforts of zoos like the one at Naples.  In the end, without the thrill of being there, just inches away from these wonderful creatures, what you’re looking at is a photo of a caged animal.  All that being said, I’m not here to denigrate zoos and conservation centres – I used to work at one and understand that sometimes they are all that stand between an animal and its extinction (the tiger, perhaps, being a perfect example).   

I’m sharing this image because, if you hadn’t already guessed, I love cats, both big and small, both wild and domestic.  It’s an angle of a tiger that most of us never get to see and, well, just look at the size of those paws!

Tiger_8454

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ARKive

I enjoy wildlife programmes on TV but it can be frustrating having to wait for scheduling to show me things that I’m particularly interested in.   Today I discovered the perfect place to become lost in wonderful images of all the plants and animals that share our planet, together with loads of information, and what’s even better is that because it is on the internet I can look up stuff as and when it suits me.  (If my children were younger I imagine that we’d be looking here quite a lot).  

The site is call ARKive and has gone straight into my Favourites.  I’ve pulled up a link featuring another creature that I love – the red panda.  

@import “http://www.arkive.org/styles/portletng2.css”;

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