Fourth January Blog

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Fourth January Blog. 7-1-15

We think we have it hard. Life, I mean!

The other day I watched a t.v. Programme about young animals and what some go through to survive: climate, danger from without, danger from within, hunger.

It appears to me that, even when it is cold here, we still have it good. A young Arctic fox, searching for something to eat in minus 50 Deg F. Really cold for a young animal. He seeks either a polar bear’s leavings, or lemmings, he can hear them as they run in burrows that they dig below the snow, often up to a metre below, the programme told us. This can be dangerous as the young fox can get stuck as he dives in. Here is his method of gaining a meal that will last him a couple of days.
He leaps in the air, to dive into the snow to catch a lemming he can hear from above. Only, sometimes the snow is a meter deep, sometimes it is an inch or two, in which case the fox gets a headache, not a meal. He is young. Has never experienced this before, so he goes by instinct, one would assume. Survival is critical, based on the food he catches, if he can, or a polar bear leavings, if he can find any; indeed, if the polar bear’s catch has been large enough for him to fill his stomach and leave scraps. What a start in life!

A certain duck flies to the top of a very, very high rocky escarpment. She lays her eggs. The ducklings, (seen in a programme a few months ago) have to follow mother. They are not yet fledged and have to actually ‘take a leap of faith’ off the top of this very high rock. The leap must be as far out as possible so as not to hit too many of the jutting rocks, going down. The camera follows the descent of individual ducklings. ( as I had seen this before, i fastforwarded past this part). It seems so cruel. Some do make it. Some die.
Some jump in the wrong direction and get lost from mother duck. But some make it, even the thump at the bottom of the leap can be a killer. Nature knows some will not make it. In this case, I believe the ratio was about three to two/three that survuved. In Nature, in some places in the world, with some creatures, for the creature to survive and proliferate, two ( 1 male, 1 female) need survive at each birth. The fact that Nature tries to ensure that more than the hecessary two are born, and that enough survive .to replace accidental loss, is Her insurance policy.

Other illustrations were young tigers watching mum catch their dinner. They have skills to learn too.
A young Meercat in the African veldt, comes across a cobra. Knows it is dangerous, does not have the skills to deal with it on its own. It calls to the adults, some distance away, who race back to see what is amiss. They surround the snake, in this case a cobra, making sure they are just out of reach of the cobra’s strike distance. An en masse threat from the whole of the adults of the troup and the snake moves on. Apparently, the young meercat is then left to make sure that the snake does go on its way before he scampers off to join the clan.

Seems that with some creatures, ‘ mother knows best’ works most of the time, but not always.

They also added one very interesting piece of film ( not about young exactly) about a tiny fish who, in order to attract a mate, carries out a 24 hr long design in the sand that a designer would be proud of. Circular, approx. 30 times the body lenth of the fish, made by swimming over a designated area and fanned by the fish’s fins, he makes little humps and bumps in the sand and an intricate pattern is formed. The centre, once a female has shown interest, is then smoothed and a smaller depression made ( again by the use of his fins) and they swim in this depression, secreting both eggs and milt together. A few days later, once the eggs have hatched, the male has served his purpose and moves away.
I found this fscinating as did the people of the programme, that this little creature can make such a grand ‘statement’ in a natural world.

This was a BBC Natural History programme narrated by Sir David Attenborough which I accessed through IPlayer.

Be happy people, thank you for reading.

Evelyn

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