Submitted by Henry Miller
Tales from the Wild Side
Besides the Christmas bird count (see table for results), the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists participate in the Nocturnal Owl Survey, which involves travelling along a pre-determined route year after year in April. The club has five routes. We begin half an hour after sunset and end at midnight, stopping every 1.6 km to play a CD of owl calls and to listen for owls. There are 20 stations (stops). We are looking for volunteers to help out with this.
The club thanks Ilka Mine for organizing and leading the bird identification workshop. It was great to see so many people there.
Now to wolves and death. Many people who live in an urban environment travel to forested areas to relax and enjoy its beauty. Nature is viewed as being gentle and quiet-an escape from the noise and violence of city life. But in the darkness of the forest, wildlife is constantly moving quietly, out of sight. At any moment, the tranquillity can be shattered by the life and death struggle of any of its inhabitants.
An example to illustrate my point occurred last fall at an area guide’s camp. A non-resident hunter was gazing out over a dry beaver meadow behind a cabin, when a buck burst out of the forest. Two wolves were right behind it. One grabbed the hind leg of the deer while the other went for its neck. The deer struggled and managed to escape into the bush. Within seconds, the animal broke into the open again. This time the deer was dragged to the ground, one wolf broke its back leg with its powerful jaws and the other sank its teeth into its victim’s neck. The snow and wolves were covered in blood. Shrieks, screams and sounds the hunter couldn’t describe filled the air. The wolves were eating while the deer was still alive.
Death comes frequently to wildlife. The predator/prey scene plays out continuously, unseen by humans. But enough tales for now.
To answer a question asked in the previous article: gasoline is about 90 percent carbon and through combustion nearly every carbon atom combines with two oxygen atoms. Oxygen is 1.33 times heavier than carbon; thus, for six pounds of gas, more than five pounds of carbon combine with around 14 pounds of oxygen for 19 pounds of C02.
Since I’ve mentioned atoms, it reminds me of the time when one of the members of the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists-let’s call him Chris-was walking along a trail in the forest with a hydrogen atom when he stopped suddenly.
“What’s wrong?” asked Chris
“I lost my electron,” replied the hydrogen atom.
“Are you sure?’ asked Chris.
“I’m positive,” the atom explained.
“Oh, I thought you were just being negative,” lamented Chris.