Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Amazing Colors of Malayan Banded Pitta

This is one of three separate species of banded pittas that were lumped together as one. Due to their vocal and visual differences the species were in recent times split. The Malayan banded pitta (Hydrornis irena) is a species of bird in the Pittidae family. The bird can be found in Thailand, the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra. It was previously considered conspecific with the Bornean and Javan banded pittas. Together, they were referenced as the banded, but this is recently split species is listed as near threatened on the basis that the constant destruction of its habitats and capture for the illegal bird trade are suspected to be driving a moderately rapid decline in its population. More research is needed into the impact of these threats, the results of which could influence its Red List status. 20-23 cm.
Moreover, the gorgeous and amazingly colored Pitta species male has black crown and broad mask, with wide bright yellow supercilium, becoming flame orange on the nape. The underparts are deep blue, save for orange barring on the breast sides. Moreover upperparts plain chestnut-brown; rump and tail deep blue. The beautiful wings are blackish-brown with a white spot in the primaries and some white in the outer secondary’s. The median and greater coverts are broadly tipped white. The chin and throat are also white. However, female birds are similar except for white underparts with fine black barring, and juveniles and immature have bold, pure white spotting on the upper wing coverts. It is called as locally common, though now infrequent in Thailand and decidedly local in Sumatra, though the population size has not been quantified and further research is required.
The species’ population is suspected to be undergoing a reasonably rapid decline owing primarily to on-going deforestation and hunting for trade. The species inhabits lowland floodplain forest, but is also found at higher elevations, maybe up to c.1,500 m. Indeed, it appears to depend on to a large extent on lowland evergreen forest and swamp forest. It favors the interior of primary forest, but is also found in secondary forest, although observations recommend that it does not persevere well in altered habitats. Its diet perhaps comprises invertebrates and berries, which it forages for on the ground and in understory vegetation. Breeding probably takes place throughout the year.
In spite of some apparent tolerance of habitat alteration, it is threatened by forest loss and degradation, apparently driven by timber extraction and agricultural expansion, as well as capture for the illegal bird trade either through trapping or nest-raiding. The bird is now considered rare in Thailand, where the majority lowland forest has been logged. Moreover, a same situation is existing in Malaysia, where the bird has been almost disappeared from Panti Forest Reserve since 1994. The species come about in a number of protected areas across its outsized range, including Khao Nor Chuchi Wildlife Sanctuary (Thailand), Taman Negara National Park (Malaysia) and Way Kambas National Park (Sumatra). No other targeted conservation actions are recognized for this species. 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Mysterious “Pyramid” spotted on Ceres

The latest photographs of Ceres taken by the Dawn spacecraft have captured an enthralling pyramid-shaped mountain on the surface in its second mapping orbit, from a height of 2,700 miles. As the spacecraft gets closer, more and more features are beginning to reveal themselves, as mysterious lone mountain discovered towering over the surface of the dwarf planet. The mysterious bright spots appear now as an array of dots scattered across the floor of a crater however their source remains unidentified. Though, six months ago, Ceres appeared as nothing more than a few pixels of light to Dawn, but now it is nearing its closest orbit to the increasingly fascinating dwarf planet. At the end of Dec 2015, the spacecraft will be just 225 miles above the surface and lower than the International Space Station is above Earth. 

Scientists must make do with these tantalizing glimpses of the features that are waiting on the surface. Hence, in one photograph, a pyramid-shaped peak is seen towering over a relatively flat surface. This is very Peculiar Mountain, as there’re few other important features like it in the surrounding again or even the rest of the dwarf planet. However, the structure is believed to rise about 3 miles, almost equal to the height of Mont Blanc in France and Italy, the highest mountain in the Alps. Moreover, in another photo reveals the bright spots in greater detail. More than a few can be seen next to the largest bright area, projected to be six miles wide. Nevertheless the ice and salt are the leading theories for what is causing this odd reflectivity.

Dr Marc Rayman, Dawn’s mission director and chief engineer says; it is really exciting to seeing these features come into sharper focus, as few months ago, when Dawn starts observing its new home from afar, we called it a bright spot. As the explorer closed in and provided better views, we realized it was two bright spots. Now we see these are in many numbers and it’s still not clear what is causing these strong reflections, and I think still more data are required. However, everyone has their own personal favorite theory, but the eventual arbiter is nature. That is, we can all speculate, and we can offer arguments, but the answer is going to be clear soon. Well, my money is on the remnants from ice that has sublimated, and the salts left behind then could be what are reflecting the light. Other photographs disclose the multitude of craters and lines strewn across the surface of this world, situated in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Because there’s also evidence for past activity on the surface, including flows, landslides and collapsed natural structures.

Though, Ceres appears to have more remnants of activity than the proto-planet Vesta, which the Dawn spacecraft already studied for 14 months in 2011 and 2012. Therefore, Dawn, which arrived at Ceres on 6th March 2015, is the first spacecraft to orbit two separate bodies in the solar system. It will remain in its current orbit until 30 June, before moving to a lower altitude of 900 miles by early August.  Numerous theories are presently being touted for what the mysterious bright white spots are on Ceres. The Hubble Space Telescope has found over 10 on the surface, but Ceres has found that the two most noticeable - ‘spot 5’ - are in a crater about 57 miles wide.

Moreover, another theory is that they’re salt flats that are reflecting sunlight, left on the surface by saltwater or by other chemical reactions. One more theory is that they’re regions of ice, again reflecting sunlight. It is thought, that Ceres is having plenty of ice beneath its surface, which could be uncovered when an asteroid or comet strikes the surface. The fact these bright spots are in a crater where such an impact occurred actually supports this theory. Therefore, another possibility is that they’re cryovolcanoes - volcanoes that are shooting out water or ice. 

Though, the lack of a raised area around the spots steady with a volcano suggests this might not be correct. And they could even be water vapors ejecting from a liquid reservoir under the ground, though again present observations - namely a lack of extra material close the spots suggests this is not the case.  The surface of Ceres has exposed various interesting and exclusive features.  Just like icy moons in the outer solar system have craters with central pits, but on Ceres central pits in big craters are much more common. These and other features will let to understand the inner structure of Ceres that we cannot sense directly.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Peneda-Gerês National Park, Portugal

The Peneda-Gerês National Park, also known simply as Gerês, is the only national park in Portugal. It is located in the Norte region, in the northwest of Portugal, specifically in the districts of Viana do Castelo, Braga, and Vila Real.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Niagara Falls

Waterfalls are commonly formed when a river is young. At these times the channel is often narrow and deep. When the river courses over resistant bedrock, erosion happens slowly, while downstream the erosion occurs more rapidly. As the watercourse increases its velocity at the edge of the waterfall, it plucks material from the riverbed. Whirlpools created in the turbulence as well as sand and stones carried by the watercourse increase the erosion capacity. This causes the waterfall to carve deeper into the bed and to recede upstream. Often over time, the waterfall will recede back to form a canyon or gorge downstream as it recedes upstream, and it will carve deeper into the ridge above it. The rate of retreat for a waterfall can be as high as one and half meters per year.

Often, the rock stratum just below the more resistant shelf will be of a softer type, meaning that undercutting due to splashback will occur here to form a shallow cave-like formation known as a rock shelter under and behind the waterfall. Eventually, the outcropping, more resistant cap rock will collapse under pressure to add blocks of rock to the base of the waterfall. These blocks of rock are then broken down into smaller boulders by attrition as they collide with each other, and they also erode the base of the waterfall by abrasion, creating a deep plunge pool or gorge.

McKenzie River - Oregon

The McKenzie River is a 90-mile tributary of the Willamette River in western Oregon in the United States. It drains part of the Cascade Range east of Eugene and flows into the southernmost end of the Willamette Valley.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Augrabies Falls is a waterfall on the Orange River, South Africa

The Augrabies Falls is a waterfall on the Orange River, South Africa, within the Augrabies Falls National Park. The falls are around 60m in height. The original Khoikhoi residents named the waterfall "Ankoerebis" "place of big noises" from which the Trek Boers, who settled here later on, derived the name, "Augrabies". The falls have recorded 7,800 cubic metres of water every second in floods in 1988 (and 6,800 cubic metres (240,000 cu ft) in the floods of 2006. This is over three times the average high season flow rate of Niagara Falls of 2,400 cubic meters per second, more than four times Niagara's annual average, and greater than Niagara's all-time record of 6,800 cubic meters per second. The gorge at the Augrabies Falls is 240 m deep and 18 km long, and is an impressive example of granite erosion.

Monday, 15 June 2015

The Vivid Green Magpie, A crow family member, vocal sound is peep-peep whistles and chatters.

The most beautiful green magpie (Scientists name is Cissa Chinensis,) is a member of the crow family, approximately about the size of the Eurasian jay or a touch smaller. The magpie is a vivid green in color, marginally lighter on the underside and has a thick black stripe from the bill to the nape. The bird is compared to the other members of its genus; the white-tipped tail is fairly long. This all contrasts vividly with the red fleshy eye rims, bill and legs. 

The wings are reddish maroon.  Well, the bird can be found from the lower Himalayas in north eastern India in a broad south easterly band down into central Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra and northwestern Borneo in evergreen forest including bamboo forest, clearings and scrub. The Magpie bird naturally searching food both on the ground and in trees, and takes a very high percentage of animal prey from myriad invertebrates, small reptiles, mammals and young birds and eggs. It will also take flesh from a carcass. The bird naturally built nests in trees, large shrubs and every so often in tangles of different climbing vines. Moreover, the nests usually four to six eggs laid. Moreover, the bird voice is quite varied but frequently a harsh peep-peep. It also likes to frequently whistles and chatters. The Green Magpie is classified as Least Concern, but it does not fall in more at risk category. The Green Magpie is widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category. Source: Charismatic Planet

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Puya berteroniana Blooming Blue

Strange Wonderful Things .Rare and exotic plants & seeds .From outer space - I mean Chile - comes the amazing, rare Bromeliad, the Blue Puya.  With its massive, 7 foot flower cluster, this is one of most outrageous plants anywhere.  The turquoise-blue color is very rare in the plant world, and it's even rarer to be combined with orange.The Blue Puya (P. berteroniana) is a terrestrial Bromeliad related to Pineapple.  The plant forms a rosette of silvery-green leaves about 3 feet long.  The leaves are spiny, so move carefully around the plant.  The flower stalks themselves are soft, and the flowers are silky-smooth.  These other-worldly blooms appear around May or June.  It is an unforgettable experience to stand next to one of these massive, blue stalks.  The blooms are pollinated by birds, which love to sit on the outward-pointing tips and drink the nectar inside!  This species is rare, and if you can find it, it's sometimes a similar species, Puya alpestris, mislabeled as Puya berteroniana.  Alpestris is a smaller plant, with shorter, less impressive clusters.  This is the genuine Puya berteroniana.