SciBlogs

Archive February 2011

Tiger News: Poacher Caught Brendan Moyle Feb 21

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[URL= http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=416619&version=1&template_id=44&parent_id=24] The Gulf Times 16 February

The Gulf Times reports on a poacher being caught in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has one sizable reserve for tigers in the south in the Sunderbans. This area has a lot of wetlands. Bangladesh is home to the Benehagli subspecies and some 400 estimated tigers are in the Sunderbans. Some tiger parts appear to be exported through Burma and into Southern China.

As is typical in these cases, the poacher is a local (a 45 year old) using the expedient of poisoned carcasses to snare tigers. Despite the claims of this being a large haul, the poacher was caught in a sting with 3 tiger skins and bones. This is well below the scale of the operations undertaken by Sandar Chand and the like.

The sting aspect emphasises that one of the risks facing black-market participants is informational. They may be unable to tell if another participant in the supply chain is an undercover law-enforcement agent or a committed black-market participant.

Most of the killings of tigers in the Sunderbans however, are believed to come from human-tiger conflicts- villagers killing tigers that move into their settlements. Commercial scale poaching appears to be rare.



Bikewise NZ Brendan Moyle Feb 15

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February is once again Bikewise Month in NZ- the time when we’re encouraged to get out on the bikes as much as possible. I’ve been steadily commuting with my bike all month, but to be honest, nearly every month is Bikewise Month for me. This month- well the combination of 70%+ humidity in Auckland and the NZ cycle-helmet laws (mutter, mutter)- have made it a tad unpleasant.

I had a brief chat to my daughter on the approved ways to stop a bicycle.
The first is to steadily apply the brakes to both wheels and coming to a safe stop. This is my preferred approach.
The second is to by passed by an Auckland motorist and clipped by a wing mirror or the like. In this dismounting technique, you get flung from the bicycle to slide spectacularly over the road surface using your body.
Then comes the really important part

Do not under any circumstances lose consciousness.

Your trajectory is going to take you into the path of other cars. If you lose consciousness or hesitate, you die. You have to get off the road quickly and only then check for bleeding and broken bones.

Summer means cicadas Brendan Moyle Feb 03

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A couple of local (true bug) shots of the native kihikihi



For both shots I’m using the Tamron 90/2.8 macro-lens with a 6x Raynox microscope adapter, the Sigma EM-140 ringflash with a 4:1 output ratio for more definition. Photo’s processed in Silkypix.

The first shot had severe purple fringing on the wings (highly reflective surfaces can do this), so I masked the area outside the wings and used PSE to fix that by de-saturating/lightning the purple

Tuesday’s Bird Photos Brendan Moyle Feb 01

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I’ve always found fantails to be rather elusive little birds to photograph. Their actions can be quite frenetic at times, and the dim conditions of NZ bush acts as a break to shutter speeds.

The addition of a 70-200/2.8 lens to my lineup though gave me the chance to take a stab at some casual encounters. At a small park in Rotorua, we happened upon some fantails feeding around a still pond at dusk. While light conditions were poor, the birds seemed relaxed about my presence. To contribute to the ambience I was looping an MP3 of fantail calls through my phone/music player.

The feeding off the insects in the pond, contributes to the slightly damp breasts of this bird. Even so, shutter speeds were very low- 1/60 sec for a 200mm lens. This is definitely the kind of subject where a stablised system (in my case camera body) pays off.



The fantail or Rhipidura fuliginosais of course, insectivorous. It is closely related to the Gray Fantail Rhipidura albiscapa of Australia and New Caledonia. The Maori name is PÄ«wakawaka or TÄ«wakawaka. It’s a common forest species (even if tricky to photograph) and is not considered threatened.

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