Bluethroat on video

Iridescence & Pretty, Shiny Natural Things


lead_960-5 Matthew Jacobs

The Atlantic’s science writers are back in the saddle, leading the way with the best stories recently:

Why Do These Plants Have Metallic Blue Leaves?

Ooh, shiny


Roses are red but violets aren’t blue. They’re mostly violet. The peacock begonia, however, is blue—and not just a boring matte shade, but a shiny metallic one. Its leaves are typically dark green in color, but if you look at them from the right angle, they take on a metallic blue sheen. “It’s like green silk, shot through with a deep royal blue,” says Heather Whitney from the University of Bristol.

And she thinks she knows why.

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Birds of Australia, Part 1 of 2

Jet Eliot

Rainbow Lorikeet, Australia Rainbow Lorikeet, Australia

Some of the world’s most colorful birds live in Australia, a continent boasting over 800 bird species.

For anyone new to this curious land–whether they’re a birder or not–seeing brightly-colored parrots and birds as big as humans is a fun adventure.

This week I present a two-part series on the birds of Australia, highlighting photos and anecdotes of some of my favorite birds.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Here is a list of Australia’s birds, impressive with so many exotic species.

Do I have a favorite? Oh yes.

My favorite Australian bird siting:  the southern cassowary.

Southern Cassowary, male, Australia Southern Cassowary, male, Australia

Listed as threatened and declining, this was a true thrill. The bird was taller and heavier than me, and took an aggressive approach when we unknowingly came close to what we suspected was his nest.

Never have I been so threatened by a bird.

Emu greets us at Mareeba Wetlands Emu greets us at Mareeba…

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Remote Living, Well Done


980x (8).jpgEdinburgh of the Seven Seas, Tristan da Cunha, South Atlantic Ocean michael clarke stuff / Wikipedia

Thanks to EcoWatch for keeping us posted on the greenish news from the bottom edge of the planet:

World’s Most Remote Village Is About to Become Self-Sufficient World’s Most Remote Village Is About to Become Self-Sufficient 

The most remote village on Earth, located on Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean, is about to get a 21st century upgrade thanks to an international design competition aimed at creating a more sustainable future for the farming and fishing community.

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Solar Rising


4000 A road divides solar panels at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert, Nevada. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Those of us who live near the Kochi Airport in Kerala, India feel pretty proud of our 100% solar-powered access to the outside world; but this story tells us to expect even more in the USA soon:

US energy shakeup continues as solar capacity set to triple

Solar expected to almost triple in less than three years by 2017 as coal continues to fall, solidifying gas as country’s chief electricity source, reports Climate Central

Bobby Magill for Climate Central, part of the Guardian Environment Network

Solar power capacity in the US will have nearly tripled in size in less than three years by 2017 amid an energy shakeup that has seen natural gas solidify its position as the country’s chief source of electricity and coal power continue to…

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North Dakota Tramples Journalist Deia Schlosberg’s Constitutional Right to Cover Historic Climate Protests


“We already have five times as much oil and coal and gas on the books as any scientist thinks is safe to burn.” — Bill McKibben


Deia Schlosberg seems to me to be an exceptionally responsible person. A producer of the Josh Fox film How to Let Go of the World and Love all the Things that Climate Can’t ChangeDeia has already helped thousands of people to more deeply understand the very serious risks associated with our continued burning of fossil fuels. To understand it on an intimate, personal level. And for this we owe her not only our gratitude, but the firm affirmation of our voices lifted to support her during her time of unjust persecution.


(Deia Schlosberg [left] and climate activists who briefly shut down TransCanada Tar Sands production on October 11 [right]. Image source: Desmogblog.)

For Deia appears to have earned herself…

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Birding from VdF: San José Estuary


Since last week, I’ve been based back at Villa del Faro in Baja California Sur, Mexico, where I’ll be co-managing the property with Jocelyn for a good while. In addition to having the opportunity to see what kind of birds show up here in their winter migration, I’m also hoping to have time to check out the surrounding region for other birding hotspots. I’ll do this not only for my own interest, but also because we may get guests here in the future who are bird-watchers.  I’d like to be able to recommend areas based on my own experience, so they don’t have to rely solely on eBird, which helps find certain spots but can’t give you any directions that Google Maps doesn’t have.

Nevertheless, eBird is one of the best ways to quickly figure out what locations within a region are popular for birding, whether because they have lots of…

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