Double Dachshund Dog Dilemma.

"Taking your dogs for a walk" usually means placing a leash on them and heading out for a stroll.  However, I have noticed that this maxim can be distorted to mean just having dogs with you while walking.  The entire construct of walking a dog has vanished in some situations; ergo its purpose no longer holds the same merit.  The general idea is to give the beasts some exercise, not put them on display in a two-tiered jalopy. 

On the other hand, we have two adorable pooches being treated like royalty and get to enjoy fresh air and some socialization without the risk of getting dirty, picking up fleas, or stepping in something altogether disgusting.  They certainly caught my eye.  The canine comrades feel safe and secure inside their enclosures, keeping barking and panic attacks at bay.  Also, the environment benefits as they can't mark, deposit their excrement in unsightly places, or chase any nearby wildlife.  
Perhaps we need a different expression to espouse the exact…

Summer kill and winter kill: We're destroying our lakes.

The fish you see is a stickleback; it is a kind of minnow that forms an important part of the food web.  They never get very big.  The one you see here is an adult and is maybe two to three inches long.  These fish are consumed by larger fish species such as trout and perch, by birds such as herons and kingfishers, and even by insects such as giant waterbugs and water scorpions. 

I found this little guy floating on the top of an Alberta lake.  One by itself would not be an issue, but there were dozens of them, all within a very small area.  I am sure there would have been many hundreds if I took the time to peruse more of the shallows.  They all died at about the same time, not from age or because they reproduced, but because of something called summer kill.

A lake has a natural cycle of nutrient flow.  Those nutrients are taken up by plants which are then passed along the food chain.  Nutrients are usually very limited, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, which are hard to obtain ei…

Bullfrogs - the scourge of the wetland.

An invasive species is defined as a non-native organism that does significant harm to the environment it has been introduced to.  What damage can a frog do, after all, it's just a frog, right? 

Bullfrogs are originally from eastern North America.  They never made it past the prairies before man showed up due to the deep cold and lack of wetlands.  Bullfrogs were easy to raise, and people had an affinity for their legs.  Young bullfrogs in the form of tadpoles could also be moved unknowingly if they happened to get trapped in a live shipment of fish; upon arrival, they were released by people who wished to treat them humanely.  Then there were those that obtained bullfrogs for the purpose of intentionally releasing them into the wild, hoping to later harvest them for themselves or the restaurant industry.

Whatever the reason, they have been introduced into many aquatic ecosystems where they never previously were.  Then they did what all animals do when given an opportunity to thri…

Killer cat causes catastrophic carnage of chicks.

If you have read my blogs, you would know of my bird garden, nest boxes, and a brood of chicks belonging to a pair of black-capped chickadees.  I was excited to hear the peeping indicative of young and noted with great pleasure the rapid comings and goings of the parents.  I was a grandfather, of sorts, although my wife would find that analogy outrageous. 

It was the other day when I noticed a black cat perched atop my arbor, just behind the birdhouse.  I wrote a blog on this (click here) regarding my fears about the future wellbeing of the fine feathered family.  My worst fears were realized when, two days ago, I found the bodies of the two young birds on the ground.  They had been ravaged, by a cat I'm sure, and their demise led me down a dark path of loathing for the clawed killers.  Even worse, they were not eaten due to a state of hunger of the feline predator, they were simply killed and left to rot.

I recognize that nature is both wonderful and barbaric; the young, sick, a…

Is it moose or meese?

One goose but two geese,
So you'd think the same
For a similar name;
One moose and two meese.

For more than one moose,
The name does not change
No need to arrange
It's not meese, its moose.

Mousses is the word
For two tasty treats
To make them's a feat
Or so I have heard.

Mouse could be mouses
But really is mice
For one of them twice
Found in our houses.

Mouse, moose, goose, geese
mousses, mice, almost done
Mousse, meese, Oh such fun
What do you call more than one sheep?

Hope you enjoyed my temporary elapse into insanity.

The Gopher Tortoise - Photographed in Florida

Habitat is important for animals.  Most creatures need a place to live, food to eat, and can live only within certain temperature and precipitation tolerances.  This all sounds very rhetorical, but we seem to forget this when it comes to land usage.  It becomes about the god which seems to drive man more than any other; money.  The land becomes part of the foundation for our creations of building, transportation, or recreation.  These destroy the habitat which the native occupants require, and they do the only thing they can.  They die.

It is amazing how much one organism affects another.  A great example of this is the gopher tortoise.  You may think that this slow-moving domed reptile would not have much in the way of needs, or that its existence, one way or another, wouldn't make a difference to neighbouring creatures.  But, you would be wrong.  It turns out they are so important they have the distinction of being a keystone species.

A keystone species has a significant influe…

Common garter snake - the Puget Sound garter snake subspecies.

Everyone knows what a garter snake looks like, right?  It turns out that there are many different species of garter snake, and then there are subspecies on top of that.  For example, here in British Columbia, there are three distinct species of garter snakes.  There is the western terrestrial garter snake, the northwestern garter snake, and the common garter snake.  I have caught each of them but sometimes have felt like there were more than just three species.  That is because, within a species, there may be two or more subspecies.

A subspecies is a group of individuals belonging to a population, which is geographically isolated from other populations of the same species.  There typically are many differences between the different groups though.  Different subspecies may be able to interbreed if given the opportunity and produce viable offspring that are not sterile.  Genetically they are very close, but it is their differences which make them fall into the subspecies category.