New Lizards

Not one but FOUR new lizard species discovered in California!

“Throughout the history of lizard evolution, several lizard lineages have lost their legs, James Parham of Cal State Fullerton
said. Snakes are the best-known and most diverse of these lineages, but
more than 200 other types of limbless lizards exist throughout the
world.

“In California, five legless lizard species have been identified, all of them part of a group called Anniella.
Four of these legless lizards are new to science and were recently
described in Breviora, a publication of the Museum of Comparative
Zoology at Harvard University.”

These animals are so secretive that descriptions of their habitat can sound ridiculous.

“One of the four newly identified species of Anniella, the Southern California legless lizard, was found under some dead leaves in dunes at the west end of LAX.

“The Bakersfield legless lizard was found in three vacant lots in that city’s downtown.

“The southern Sierra legless lizard was spotted in three dry canyons
on the edge of the Mojave Desert, and the Temblor legless lizard was
found in the oil fields around Taft, a city on the southwestern edge of
the San Joaquin Valley.”

They are looking for more. HT Reid.

Music Lessons

Q loves rock and country, but Libby and I were brought up on classical and love it too. Both she and Jackson can play well; to my eternal regret I never learned.

We liked this essay in defense of obligatory lessons for the young, written in response to one against the idea.

“I do think that classical music is, in some respect, bigger than other kinds of music. The music has been going on for five hundred years as a self-conscious tradition, dedicated to an extended meditation on a series of musical structures so limited as nearly to be arithmetical. And the meditations have reflected on one another, and, over the centuries, sometimes they have advanced.

“You are free to see in this 500-year meditation something very close to a mystical or Pythagorean inquiry into beauty, if you would like.”

Joel? Jack?

Speaking of pretty guns…

Andrew, using my former Grant, has a great day in the field.

“It’s taken dumber birds already, but the Grant got its first wild birds today — and in style, limiting out on sharptail on our first day out.

“It was a rough day with winds gusting well over 20mph.  Despite being on private land that we’ve run on a bunch of times and should in theory know where the birds are, three dogs didn’t find anything in the first 2.5hours — including Momo and Jozsi who you’ve met.  I put down Dog #4, the bitch we co-own and a very nice dog in her own right, and we immediately started trailing a covey for over a mile, never getting closer than about 75yds in my guess.  I actually watched them fly off of their own free will (we were downwind, they couldn’t hear us) and turned upwind to back towards the truck.  We hit a scattered covey of five — but being wrong-sided on the wind, the poor dog didn’t scent the first two contacts, but being well mannered stopped on the first bird’s flush and as I walked in, shot the second bird (twice), and then she finally was able to get a point in on a third and the rest is history.”

Anthony Bourdain on Guns

Westerners and gun nuts alike will be pleased, as our favorite celebrity chef (and good writer) Anthony Bourdain pens a strong defense of gun ownership, and of our state as well. I’ll excerpt a bunch, but really, this is a classic Read the Whole Thing.

Oh, and he is right on Green as chile of choice too…

Take it away, Tony:

“As much as I’d like to wax effusively about the delights of the Frito
pie, a shamefully delightful flavor bomb that pleases in equal measure
to its feeling in the hand like a steaming dog turd, I suspect what
people are going to talk about when they see our New Mexico episode is
the sight of me; socialist sympathizer, leftie, liberal New Yorker,
gleefully hammering away with an AR-15, an instrument of mayhem and
loathing that also has the distinction of being America’s favorite
weapon. 

“I like guns.

“I like shooting them. I like holding their
sleek, heavy, deadly weight in my hands. I like shooting at targets:
cans, paper cut-outs, and—even though I’m not a hunter—the occasional
animal. Though I do not own a gun—I would, if I lived in a
rural area like, say…Montana—consider owning one. Whatever my feelings
about gun regulation—and my worries, as a father, about what kind of
world my daughter will have to live in, I think I should
have as many guns as I like. Even Ted Nugent should have guns. He likes
them a lot. They make him happy—and as offensive as I may find a lot of
what comes out of his mouth, I’m pretty sure, based on first hand
experience, that he’s a responsible gun owner.

(Snip)

“In New York, where I live, the appearance of a gun—anywhere—is a cause for immediate and extreme alarm. Yet, in
much of America, I have come to find, it’s perfectly normal. I’ve
walked many times into bars in Missouri, Nevada, Texas, where absolutely
everyone is packing.  I’ve sat down many times to dinner in perfectly
nice family homes where—at end of dinner—Mom swings open the gun locker
and invites us all to step into the back yard and pot some beer cans.
That may not be Piers Morgan’s idea of normal. It may not be yours. But
that’s a facet of American life that’s unlikely to change.
I may be a New York lefty—with all the experiences, prejudices and
attitudes that one would expect to come along with that, but I do NOT
believe that we will reduce gun violence—or reach any kind of
consensus—by shrieking at each other. Gun owners—the vast majority
of them I have met—are NOT idiots. They are NOT psychos. They are not
even necessarily Republican (New Mexico, by the way, is a Blue State).
They are not hicks, right wing “nuts” or necessarily violent by nature.
And if “we” have any hope of ever changing anything in this country in
the cause of reason—and the safety of our children—we should stop
talking about a significant part of our population as if they were
lesser, stupider or crazier than we are. The batshit
absolutist Wayne LaPierre may not represent the vast majority of gun
owners in this land—but if pushed—if the conversation veers towards talk
of taking away people’s guns—many gun owners will shade towards him—and
away from us.

“Gun culture goes DEEP in this country. Deep. A whole hell of a lot of
people I’ve met remember Daddy giving them their first rifle as early
as age six—and that kind of bonding—that first walk through the early
morning woods with your Dad—that’s deep tissue stuff. When people start
equating guns—ALL guns—as evil—as something to be eradicated, a whole
helluva lot of people are going to get defensive.

(Snip)

“No middle ground is possible when even the notion of a sane,
reasonable person who likes to shoot lots of bullets at stuff is seen as
so foreign—so “other”. Maybe we would be better off– safer, kinder to one another if we were Denmark or Sweden.

“But we are not.

“And riding across the incredible landscape of Ghost Ranch outside of
Sante Fe, seeing the canyons and arroyos that so inspired Georgia O’
Keefe and generations of artists, writers and seekers who followed, one
is especially glad we are not.”

Read it all, please.

Libby with Bourdain. No, we don’t know him, but this is not the first time he has cooked in New Mexico…

Trouble coming: APHIS

A  few weeks ago the Sportsman’s andAnimal Owners Alliance warned us that, despite the efforts and concerns expressed, literally for years, by small breeders, APHIS was coming. They listed these points of concern:

“Can hunting dog kennel owners sell pets?

Can breeders ship sight-unseen where relationships have been well established ?

Can litters be whelped inside the house?

Are rescues still exempt if they ship sight-unseen?

Can animals, other than rabbits, be shipped for preservation of the species?

Do the APHIS regulations take precedence over state license regulations?

How can we believe the answers from APHIS staff who do not understand the questions?

Does APHIS plan to offer any protection for newly licensed breeders so that kennel photos are not added to the ASPCA “puppy mill” data base and other sensationalized uses?

If you are reported to APHIS as needing a license, are investigators required to have a warrant to enter your premises?

Is everyone on the same premise required to be licensed if one person must be licensed?

“The rule is overly complicated, inconsistent, and certainly not easy to understand. The internet and chat groups are full of conversation about this rule with a number of interpretations and a wide variety of opinions being circulated.  APHIS also posted another Question and Answer Fact Sheet with their explanations to some of the major concerns submitted during the rule making process.  Again as last year, the Q&A contains many half, incomplete, or misleading answers.  The reality is that the final interpretation of the rule and its definitions will be at the discretion of APHIS inspectors and staff.”

Here are (a few of many) examples:

“The AWA Standards of Care for housing, facilities, exercise, cleaning, sanitization, employees, housekeeping, and pest control will not be revised.

“Living under USDA licensing is NOT an option for the average home-based retail seller. The average house cannot be converted to a USDA compliant facility. Federal standards for licensed facilities dictate sanitation measures not feasible in a normal home, surfaces that are impervious to moisture, ventilation, bio-hazard control, veterinary care, exercise, temperature controls, waste disposal systems, diurnal lighting, drainage systems, washrooms, perimeter fencing, as well as transportation standards for regulated animals.

“… IF you can give up a room in your house and convert it to be the moisture proof, sterile environment described above, AND gain approval from an APHIS inspector, you may be able to crate or pen animals in that room. This room would then be for either adults or puppies/kittens but not both. Under the USDA standards puppies and kittens under 4 months of age cannot be housed in the same primary enclosure with adults, other than the dam/queen or foster dam/queen. Since the remainder of your house does not meet the above requirements, allowing animals to roam freely would cause you to be in violation of the AWA. And unless your bedroom is coated in epoxy and has a floor drain, you won’t be doing any whelping there.

“A separate facility will be needed for females by two weeks prior to whelping. Even if you make one room in your house compliant with the AWA standards, females cannot be whelped in that room. That means an additional room will be required, plus one for each additional litter within the next 3.5 months.

“Any room in your home used for whelping or birthing must meet USDA standards – impervious to moisture – meaning tile floor and vinyl-coated walls.

“All surfaces touched by animals must be waterproof and sterilized every two weeks with your choice of live steam under pressure, 180 degree water and detergent with disinfectant, or a combination detergent/disinfectant product.”

It has passed, without most of this being clarified. Lane Batot’s friend Jill Porter, who has been fighting the act for a long time, wrote:

“It goes into effect in 60 days.   It’s 91 pages of convoluted and hard to understand new regulations for anyone breeding pet animals (dogs, cats, pocket pets, reptiles and much more.)  The short of it is that even smaller home based breeders like me can no longer ship puppies without being USDA licensed.  The requirements to be licensed will force us to not be able to raise dogs the way we do, as family members in our homes.  Because of many other changes, it also has a horrible impact on our ability to make good genetic decisions for our breeding programs, and so much more. I am still in shock about this as is everyone who knows about it and understands what it is going to do.  The reasoning was to control the huge volume breeders that sell sick puppies sight unseen over the internet, but in reality it will hurt the small, quality dog breeders who show and preserve the valuable genetics in each breed.  Some of my friends have already announced they are closing down their breeding programs, since they have rare or less common breeds and can’t function with the new regulations. (These are the good breeders who raise dogs in the home, do all health testing, are very active in their breed clubs and more.)  It is going to be such a loss to see those breeds and bloodlines disappear. But hey, it’s the government and animal rights groups in action.   At least the big puppy mills will stay in business (and THAT is said with a HUGE amount of sarcasm) since they don’t care if they have to keep dogs in cages to comply with regulations.
    
“This is a huge victory for the radical animal rights group the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) who pushed for it  To them all breeders are puppy mills and they want to see all breeding stopped forever.    Their president said he wants to see domestic animals become extinct…  They don’t help shelter pets, they use their money for lawyers, pensions and lobbbying but their commercials make you THINK you are giving to save puppies and kittens in shelters.  Check out www.humanewatch.org for more.”

Text of the act, or most of it, should be here.

Eagle versus Deer

This is pretty cool: a camera trap in Primorye, set to observe Amur (“Siberian”) tigers, caught a golden eagle in the act of killing a sika deer. Knowing of my interest, Jonathan, Tim Gallagher, and Annie Hocker all sent notice.

But I am grumpy about the text, especially two statements, “”rabbits—their regular prey—”

Not really; more like rabbits, hares, great blue herons, demoiselle cranes, bar- headed geese, Greek tortoises, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, domestic stock on occasion… whatever is available at the right place and time. And:

“The scientists underscore that golden eagles do not regularly attack deer”.

But they do. Also as I just stated, many other large and/ or hoofed animals.

John Byers’ brilliant pronghorn monograph considers them a major predator.

George Frison, the old archaeologist who wrote Survival by Hunting, a sometime inspiration to both Reid and Lib, ditto, and features a painting of them in his book doing that.

Danny McCarron, personal observation of golden taking down running antelope (wild, both) “like they do it every week!”

Tigner ranch here, who had 40 calves taken by one pair and allowed the Audubon Society (in the seventies, a less PC time, granted) to film it, before they trapped and relocated them.

EVERY EASTERN EUROPEAN EAGLER takes roe every year, like a gos on a hare, both at home and at Opocno (below).

Golden eagles are top- of- the- chain carnivorous dinosaurs. If they were bigger they would hunt us…


UPDATE: I was reminded that Darren and I both covered this along time ago.

Baby Lizards 1

The heavier and later local rains have led to lush greenery and a profusion of insects (the only one in 30 years I have been bothered by mosquitos here); as well as their predators. I had never before see the babies of the abundant local fence lizard (Sceloporus), as well as the more ground- dwelling Cnemodiphorus. Got some photos of the first with Lib’s hand for scale; right or double click for size.