This Thing Called Courage

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother Duck, 2 Ducklings, Reunited

(This is from the Manchester Union Leader)
By SHAWNE K. WICKHAM

New Hampshire Sunday News Staff

MANCHESTER – A mother duck was reunited with two of her little ones after they were rescued from a storm drain, thanks to the quick reaction of some folks who work in the Millyard.
Joni Castrogiovanni, owner of Not So Plain Janes on Dow Street, said the drama unfolded Thursday afternoon while some of her employees were outside taking a break. They were admiring the sight of a mother duck followed by 11 ducklings -- and then watched in dismay as two of the babies tumbled through a grate in the middle of Commercial Street.
"Everyone kept saying, 'It's Mother's Day. We can't let her lose two of her babies,'" Castrogiovanni said.
Someone called the police, who dispatched the city water works department. The salon stylists, soon joined by other Millyard employees, corralled the frantic mama duck and her other nine ducklings under a parked truck while they waited for help to arrive.
They finally managed to get the ducklings into a box for safekeeping.
"The mother was flipping out. She kept wanting the other two babies," Castrogiovanni said. "She was so upset. It was really sad."
The story has a happy ending. Two men from the water works department arrived to open the grate; they put a ladder down into the drain and one man climbed down to rescue the ducklings.

"Everybody was screaming and clapping," Castrogiovanni said.
The human helpers gathered all the ducklings in the box and let them out close to the Merrimack River. That's when they saw the male duck.
"He came out of the water. He went over to the family and I swear to God it looked like he was yelling at her. They were having a conversation," Castrogiovanni said.
"And then the whole family went into the water together."
"It was the cutest little thing."
Reached yesterday at home, Thomas Bowen, director of Manchester Water Works, hadn't heard about the rescue. And while what his employees did may not have been exactly kosher, Bowen said they aren't in trouble.
"I think it's a great story," he said. "Particularly for the Mother's Day holiday."

Friday, May 08, 2009

New Neighbors


For the past few weeks I've been hearing a different sound coming from the wonderful woods out back (which once more have become a crytic, secretive green place, now that the trees have leafed out). Thrrrp thrrrp thrrrp, usually in groups of three. I had my suspicions as to what it might be, and confimed them yesterday by going to a birding site that had wav files of various birds' calls-- it's the beautiful Red Bellied Woodpecker. Go here to hear it, then scroll down to Red Bellied Woodpecker: http://www.mbrpwrc.usgs.gov/id/songwav.html
I've never had one of these in my woods before, and my hope is that there is a couple nesting out back. I can clearly hear the bird while sitting at my computer here, which looks out onto the woods and, believe me, I couldn't be more pleased if the Queen of England was out there.


I also mentioned that the wetlands out in the woods, at the bottom of the gully, have peepers in them now, for the first time since I've been here (ten years). Oh joy! Oh rapture! When I got back from drumming last night around midnight, I could clearly hear them under the light of the full Pink Moon (as the Native Americans called it) and it sure is a haunting, wondrous sound. I'm not sure why they didn't inhabit these woods before, but I'm pleased as punch they're out there now- it's like my own private little peeper arena, and I stand out back, facing the dark woods listening-- I really could listen forever. My joy will be complete if it turns out the bats are back as well-- local bats have been suffering from a horrible new 'powdery nose' bat virus, and their numbers have plummeted as a result. I will let you know.


We also have a new member of the family to welcome. Michele Rose Hayes was born Monday evening at 10:58, and I was there for much of the birthing process, keeping track of Carol's contractions and the baby's heartbeat. Pretty amazing stuff. Things happen in threes and so it has proved this week, and they all have to do with new life-- Michele, the red-bellied woodpecker, and the peepers who have just taken up residence out back. Oh, and I harvested my first gift fromt he garden yesterday-- a couple of very succulent and crisp fresh radishes, specifically French Breakfast radishes, which I diced and tossed into my salmon salad lunch yesterday. Mmmm mmmm good!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

200 New Species of Frogs Discovered on Madagascar

(And speaking of frogs...one would never mistake Main Street (where I live) as a rural area-- and yet there are four acres of woods behind the house, the result of landlocked streets in the area. At the bottom of a gully there are some nice boggy-wetland areas, and for the first time since I've been here--almost ten years-- the almost holy sound of spring peepers singing is sounding from this area. One can hear it clearly as you get out of the car. Where did they come from? Were they never here before? Did they cross Main Street to find this oasis? Intriguing questions to ponder, while sitting on the back steps in the pitch dartk, and listening to the music of the night...)
PORT LOUIS - Scientists have found more than 200 new species of frogs in Madagascar but a political crisis is hurting conservation of the Indian Ocean island's unique wildlife, a study shows.
The discovery, which almost doubles the number of known amphibians in Madagascar, illustrates an underestimation of the natural riches that have helped spawn a $390-million-a-year tourism industry.
However, months of instability culminating in a change of government after street protests, have compromised gains in conservation.
"The political instability is allowing the cutting of the forest within national parks, generating a lot of uncertainty about the future of the planned network of protected areas," David Vieites, researcher at the Spanish National Natural Sciences Museum, said in a statement.
The world's fourth-largest island, known for exotic creatures such as the ring-tailed lemur and poisonous frogs, is a biodiversity hotspot.
More than 80 percent of the mammals in Madagascar are found nowhere else, while all but one of the 217 previously known species of amphibian are believed by scientists to be native.
"People think that we know which plant and animal species live on this planet," team member Miguel Vences, professor at the Technical University of Braunschweig, said in the statement.
"But the centuries of discoveries has only just begun -- the majority of life forms on Earth is still awaiting scientific recognition."
Human demands on the land and decades of rampant logging have destroyed 80 percent of Madagascar's rain forest, threatening hundreds of species, he said.
The study, carried out by the Spanish Scientific Research Council (CSIC), and published in the May issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests the find of between 129 and 221 new species of frogs could double the number of amphibians globally if the results are extrapolated worldwide.
Almost a quarter of the new species discovered have not yet been found in unprotected areas, the study stated.
Madagascar broke away from Africa almost 160 million years ago, leaving its flora and fauna to develop in isolation.
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