Saturday, 31 October 2015

Survival on the Coastal Cliffs

A cliff face provides a rare opportunity to see the rocks that lie beneath the springy seaside turf. As the sea eats relentlessly into the land of cross section of the landscape is laid bare for people to admire and for hardy creatures to colonize. Carved by the restless elements, the cliffs are the front line in the battle between sea and land. Although survival in the tough conditions is strictly for specialists, the cliffs have an advantage for wildlife they are left alone by man. These frontier habitats are as varied as Britain’s remarkably varied geology formations. Differing rates of erosion produce, for example, towering cliffs of great resistance crumbling sandy cliffs, gleaming walls of white chalk and slips and slumps of all descriptions. Cliff land habitats are infinitely variable, but all are vulnerable to the sea and share a particular sense of remoteness. 

Standing room only because the cliffs vary so much in material and in structure, no community exist which is typical of all cliffs. The image of cliff life is perhaps best evoked by the clamoring colonies of sea birds which come to our shores in spring to breed. They tend to favor the north and west coast. Moreover, birds which spend a great part of their lives in the remoteness of the oceans choose remote, inaccessible places to breed. Different species have different requirements for nest sites, and this produces a pattern in their distribution. The guillemot, for example, Britain’s most numerous seabirds, breeds in colonies on vertical or near vertical cliffs. Thus, narrow ledges along the cliff face provide suitable nest sites for these chocolate brown birds with white fronts; they stand shoulder to shoulder each one incubating a single egg. The guillemots, members of the auk family, make their living at sea as underwater fishermen, and when ashore they have no reason to move around. So the rather basic accommodation offered by these ledges is all they need. 

Therefore, no nest cradles the guillemot egg, which is pear-shaped and relatively safe from rolling over the edge; any accidental movement causes it to spin on the spot, rather than to roll over the edge. When the chicks are two or three weeks old they launch themselves straight into the deep sea. The razorbill, a relative of the guillemot, looks similar but is black instead of brown and has a thinner, deeper bill. It chooses cliff areas that have rock tumbles and caverns, often including an overhanging roof. The razorbill too lays a single egg, but without the anti-roll design.

Well, safety in numbers is really important, as colonial nesting offers the auks real advantages. It gives the individual a better chance of escaping from predators, especially the young, who frequently hatch on the same day and take to the sea together; few stragglers remain to be picked off by the crows. The fulmar, another seabird of the deep ocean which resorts to the land for breeding only, has less specific nest site requirements. The species has increased dramatically in numbers and distribution over the last two hundred years.  The single white egg of the fulmar may rest on a bare rock ledge or in softer cliff material; the female sometimes scrapes out a hollow or utilizes a pocket eroded by the wind. The incubating parents both sexes sit for long periods between changeover, and the fat fluffy white chick also sits around for a long time another six to eight weeks being fed by the parents from the bountiful sea nearby. 

By late summer these seabird visitors of the cliffs-capes have left, the fulmars and kittiwakes dispersing on the wing to their ocean feeding grounds, the auks swimming off to open waters using the powerful paddle feet which are of so little use on land. Their brief presence inevitable affects the character of the cliff faces for those creatures which remain. The plants which colonize this battleground between land and sea cannot move to warmer climes when breeding is done, but must complete their life cycles in the teeth of gale blown spray, the scorching heat of summer sun, come rain, snow frost or landslide.  The land plants that creep closest to the sea itself are lichens of the splash zone, some forming bright patches of brilliant color. The moisture they retain may pave the way for other plants, but most cliff species rely on a crack in the rock to provide a first foothold; larger crevices may shelter a richer plant growth. Rock samphire, for example is a typical plant of rocky cliffs at all heights, often springing from a tight crack with no apparent soil its long tough root tapping deep moisture and tolerating a high degree of salinity. The dainty thrift and sea campion too have long, probing roots. 

Therefore, when the fresh water is available it is often in excess, washing downwards in rivulets which sweep seeds rock and soil, and whole plants to the inhospitable sea. Such instability favors plants which are especially quick to colonize newly broken ground i.e. sea beet. Well, a kittiwake plasters a nest to the sheer cliff face, sheltering its egg normally two, in a well formed cup where the chicks remain until they fly at about six weeks old. The kittiwake is most maritime gull and with its plastering technique it can colonize ledges that are too narrow even for guillemots. The two species are often neighbors on the same cliff face. The Headland on Great Saltee Island in western Ireland is visited by both guillemots and kittiwakes. You can also see the pink cushions of thrift near the top, and the white clumps of sea campion. Yellow Xanthoria lichens clothier the drier sections of rock higher up, while lower down a black coating of Verrucaria lichen is marked with white streaks of guano. 

A rock fall may create a new habitat over night. In the breeding season the birds; too make great changes to their environment which naturally affects the plants. Severe trampling and guano production around the breeding sites kills all plant life, but moderate manuring with bird droppings creates the right conditions for sea campion to thrive, and tree mallow which grows more luxuriantly amid the jumble of herring gull and cormorant nests. Puffins trample the ground and lay it bare at the entrances to their cliff top nest burrows; but when the breeding season ends and the puffins take to the sea, annual plants such as chickweed take root for their short life. 

On the cliff face, a major hardship for plants is lack of water, and many survive only by being equipped to conserve water by means of fleshy leaves or stems waxy cuticles and low, ground hugging forms. On the cliff tops other battles must be fought with plant competitors; the outcome is often determined by rabbits, whose choice of plants for grazing is all important. Thrift grows better when its competitors, the vigorous grass Festuca rubra, are kept down by rabbits. Not only do they eat the grass but they burrow underneath it removing the soil that acts as a moisture reserve. This harms the short rooted grass more than it harms thrift, which has roots that can reach as far as a meter down. Beet has a mass of spreading runners that make it a rapid colonizer of newly broken cliff surfaces. Its leathery look belies the tender tastiness of this wild relative of spinach. 

As the rabbits affect the plant community, so all plants and animals of the cliffs help to build their own landscape, feeding on each other manuring the land and spreading seed. Some creatures are resident, some just visit, but several roles are acted out here. The role of predator is played magnificently by the peregrine which nests in remote cliff holes or ledges. It may take rabbits, but it is the continuous supply of seabirds and pigeons which sustain this falcon, which as now recovered to over 800 nesting pairs after a period of decline. The remoteness of the cliffs favors ravens, and much persecuted in the past by game keepers inland, they lead less troubled lives on the wild cliffs of the west and north where they build their monumental nests on in accessible ledges. The chough another cliff land crow is far from common. A choosy eater of insects its numbers have declined and it is now confined to the cliffs and caves of the Inner Hebrides, Isle of Man, Ireland and Wales. For people cliff tops make superb vantage points from which to watch perhaps the soaring and wheeling of fulmars, or seals bobbing in the sea. On sheltered ledges, lizards bask on sandy slopes, and sand martins scoop flying insects from rising thermals. But cliffs are more often harsh and forbidding places where the colonists are hardy and well adapted.  

Monday, 12 October 2015

The Lens-Shaped Lenticular Clouds

Lenticular clouds also called Altocumulus lenticularis are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form in the troposphere, usually in perpendicular alignment to the wind direction. Lenticular clouds can be separated into ACSL, (Altocumulus Standing Lenticularis) or SCSL (Stratocumulus Standing Lenticular), and CCSL, (Cirrocumulus Standing Lenticular). Due to their shape, they’ve been offered as an explanation for some UFO (Unidentified Flying Object), sightings. As air flows along the surface of the Earth, it comes across obstacles. However, our atmosphere, the envelope of air surrounding of planet, is always in motion. We have a tendency to to think of the motion of our atmosphere as horizontal across the ground, namely wind. Though, air can move vertically as well.

Therefore, these are man-made objects, such as bridges, and buildings, & natural features, like hills, Mountains and valleys. Hence all of them disturb the flow of air into eddies. Moreover, the strength of eddies depends on the size of the object and the speed of the wind. It results in turbulence classified as “mechanical” because it is shaped through the “mechanical disruption of the ambient wind flow”. Where constant moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to the dew point, moisture in the air may abridge to form lenticular clouds. Thus, as the moist air moves back down into the trough of the wave, the cloud may evaporate back into vapor.

Moreover, under definite conditions, long strings of lenticular clouds can form nearby the crest of each sequential wave, forming a formation recognized as a "Wave Cloud." The wave systems reason big vertical air movement; adequate that water vapor may condense to create precipitation. The clouds have been mistaken for UFOs or "Visual Cover" for UFOs, mainly the round "flying saucer"-type, since these clouds have a characteristic lens appearance and level saucer-like shape; also, as lenticular clouds usually do not form over low-lying or flat terrain, numerous people have never seen one and are not aware clouds with that shape can exist. Bright colors called irisation are sometimes seen along the edge of lenticular clouds.

Thus, these clouds have also been recognized to form in cases where a mountain does not exist, but somewhat as the result of shear winds created by a front. Moreover, pilots of powered aircraft tend to stay away during flying near lenticular clouds because of the turbulence of the rotor systems that accompany them, but glider pilots actively seek them out. The exact location of the rising air mass is justly easy to envisage from the orientation of the clouds. "Wave lift" of this kind is often very smooth and robust, and enables gliders to soar to extraordinary altitudes and great distances. The present gliding world records for both distances is over 3,000 km; and altitude 50,721 feet was set using such lift. Well, standing lenticular clouds are associated with a phenomenon famous as mountain wave turbulence. Following are few breathtaking shots of one of those mountain weather spectacles, standing lenticular clouds.Source: Wikipedia

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Maple (Acer), Nature’s Favorite Tree to Grow

Well, everyone knows what a maple leaf looks like, right? It is the leaf on the Canadian flags as well, the one that lends its shape to maple sugar candies. Well, yes and no? While most maple leaves do have a three-lobed outline, they are vary enormously in size and shape. Therefore, with some the lobes are barely indented with some they are so deeply cut they look like lace. Some even have three separate leaflets the way poison ivy does. Size of the tree also varies a great deal, and you can find a suitable maple whether you want a large shade tree or a small ornamental for a city yard. However, most maples have especially fine fall color and seeds with wings on either side that you can spread apart and stick on the bridge of your nose if you are so inclined. Source: Charismatic Planet

Hence, of the large especially favorite in public is sugar maple, also called rock maple “Acer Saccharum” a fine shade tree that can grow well over 100 feet tall, with a big, round, dense head and leaves that turn shades of red, yellow and orange in fall. Collecting and boiling down the sweet sap to make maple syrup is a lot of work it must be reduced to less than thirties of its original volume but it is a good way to get outdoors at the end of winter. October Glory is a variety of sugar maple with especially good fall color; Newton Sentry is a columnar form.
Red maple are also called “Swamp Maple” is nearly as popular as sugar maple, because its showy red flowers are such a welcome sight amid bare branches in early spring. Like sugar maple, it turns color early in fall, but in this case the leaves are blazing red. It is a bit less sturdy then sugar maple but will tolerate wet sites. Norway maple “A. platanoides” a big round tree, casts a very dense shade and is rather shallow rooted but it grows quickly as maple go, “Erectum” is a columnar variety and “Crimson King” has red leaves all summer. All these are hardy, though Silver maple “A. saccharinum” is often planted because of its grow very fast, its graceful, pendulous branches and its finely cut leaves with silvery undersides, which cast a dappled shade. It is also hardy while Silver maples bas weak, breakable wood, however, and its roots can clog drains and septic systems if the tree is planted near them.

Of the smaller ornamental maples the choicest is Japanese maple “A. planmatum” and its hybrids. The original species, which can grow to 20 feet, has fine, deeply indented green leaves in summer the reddish when they first emerge and turn red in fall. It is hardy to and self-sows freely. Varieties such as “Atropurpureum” and “Sanguineum” are dark red all season. The very slow growing cutleaf, or laceleaf Japanese maple “A. p. dissectum” can grow to 12 feet but is usually much smaller; an exquisite mound of cascading branches is supported by a twisted picturesque trunk, with its lacy leaves often sweeping the ground. Varieties such as “Atropurpureum” and “Burgundy Lace” are red all season. In addition there are variegated varieties and some with leaves so note are fine they look like threads such as “Red Filigree”.

Moreover among smaller maples those also worthy of note are Amur maple “A. ginnala” a tough little tree that grows up to 20 feet and has small, three pointed leaves, fragrant white flowers in early spring, bright red fall foliage and showy red winged fruits. It is even hardy and often it has several trunks but can b etrained to one if desired. Paperback maple “A. griseum” grows about 25 feet tall, has leaves with three distinct leaflets and is valued most for its bark, which peels off in papery strips to expose a rust colored layer beneath. It is hardy as well.

Well, if you want to grow maples, then in general are easy to grow and have few pests or disease. Most of them especially red maples need soil with adequate moisture. Most need plenty of sun, and if they are to develop a good fall color, they need a climate that is cool in winter. Cutleaf Japanese maple should be given a rich moist, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter and some light shade in hot climates. It should be staked until the trunk is well developed, and twiggy growth may be removed from enter as needed though it is usually allowed assume its own eccentric forms. Therefore, Maples in general are pruned in late summer or fall when the sap is no longer running. Most need only occasional attention to remove dead, awkward or crossing limbs, but silver maples should be pruned to eliminate narrow, weak crotches and water sprouts. Paper-bark maples should have lower branches removed to display the trunk.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

The World's Most Beautiful Tree Tunnels Revealed

Well, when true nature branches out it is nothing short of magical. Whether they’re formed unintentionally, naturally or with a slight help, “Mother Nature's” finest tree tunnels in Europe, America and Asia are a sight to see. Because from intertwined beech branches in Northern Ireland to blossom covered streets in Japan reveals the most beautiful tunnels around, from maples to oaks. In spite of its busy city reputation, as most of peoples knows, that Tokyo is home to some of the most attractive parks, public spaces and botanical gardens in Asia. The world’s most beautiful tunnel trees are, romantic and amazing made of beautiful flowering trees, the longest-living organisms on Earth, beautify and defend the environment by providing color, shelter, and shade. Source:

The “Ginkgo Tree tunnel”, which separates a sea of tiny city apartments and crowded public places, comes into its full glory in autumn when its leaves turn deep yellow. Moreover, this peculiar tree tunnel can be tracked down in the “Meiji-Jingu Gaien Park”, which was named after the Emperor who passed away in 1912.
Ginkgo Tree tunnel
This specific tree tunnel marks the entrance to Milton Abbot in Devon. The beautiful straight path is surrounded by countless beeches that intertwine in an arch over the roadway and lead into the small village which was named after forming part of the original endowment of Tavistock Abbey.
Milton Abbot in Devon
Leading up to the Botany Bay Plantation on Edisto Island, South Carolina, are myriads of leaning oak trees making up one of the world's most attractive tree tunnels. The striking “Botany Bay Plantation” Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area is a state preserve, which was well formed in the 1930's from the merger of the Colonial-era Sea Cloud Plantation and Bleak Hall Plantation. The dirt track road leading up to the site is branded one of the most beautiful with its draping branches and stunning colors.
Botany Bay Plantation in Edisto Island, South Carolina
This Kawazu cherry tree tunnel in Shizuoka, Japan, is made up of a row of cherry blossom trees that are lit up at night. Sightseers and locals travel from all over to walk underneath the tunnel which is classed as one of the world’s most eye-catching walkways.
Kawazu Cherry Tree in Shizuoka, Japan
The early morning shot in Central Park, New York City, shows off one of the park's several tree tunnels that have made it so well-known nowadays. The urban park in middle-upper Manhattan is one of the most visited in the whole United States as well as one of the most-used filming locations. Tree tunnels formed to make a spectacular walkway for passers-by when Central Park opened in 1857.
Central Park in Manhattan, New York
Dark Hedges are one of Ireland’s most snapped natural phenomena. The striking road is made up of an avenue of spectacular winding beech trees along a narrow country road. The majestic beautifully trees block out sunlight in certain parts due to the thickness of the branches. At night, lots of people find the route haunting, and strolling hand-in-hand with somebody special, these young lovers must be in one of the world's most romantic spots.
The Dark Hedges in Antrim, Northern Ireland
Ukraine has this unbelievable, ethereal Tunnel of Love, actually made up of an avenue of trees. There’s one thing however; it's also a train line. And when it's choo-choo time, the tunnel does get rather noisy. 
Tunnel of Love, Ukraine
Maple Trees in Ludington, Michigan, The amber leaves on this tunnel make it one of United States and one of the world’s most gorgeous walkways. The incredibly beautiful thick maple trees hang over Conrad Road and meet where they create beautiful arch for cars and bikes to pass under.
Maple Trees in Ludington, Michigan
The tunnel of Maple Trees in Lake Kawaguchiko, Japan, is located a few kilometers away from Mount Fuji entices traveler because of its stunning location Just a few kilometers further inland from Fujikawaguchiko town, this tree tunnel, made up of an archway of soft colored maple trees, sits above the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko.
Tunnel of Maple Trees, Lake Kawaguchiko, Japan
In South London lies a mixture of pink and white blossom trees interlinking over the entrance to Battersea graveyard. The stunning thick trees stand firmly in place to form the archway that brings a bit of beauty to this lively city.
Battersea blossom in London
Cherry Blossom Tunnel is located in Bonn, Germany which is home to more than 300,000 people. The city is well-known for its loveliness and cherry blossoms, which come into bloom for about 20 days each summer as well as its narrow streets. Every summer the city's Heerstra├če road becomes a place of beauty when the blossom trees join up and form one of the world's favorite tree tunnel walkways.
Cherry Blossom Tunnel, Germany
Wisteria Flower Tunnel, Kawachi Fuji Garden, Kitakyushu, in Japan is a private garden in the city of Kitakyushu having more than one million populations, some 6 hours from Tokyo. While the garden is beautiful by itself, it’s best well-known for its tunnel of wisteria flowers, when the stunning flowers are in full bloom around April and May, the experience of walking through the tunnel is not unlike walking through a fairy tale.
Wisteria Flower Tunnel, Kawachi Fuji Garden, Kitakyushu, Japan
Jacarandas Walk, Pretoria, in  is often called “Jacaranda City”, thanks to the miles upon miles of jacaranda trees that line its roads, parks and avenues. The dazzling purple flowers of the tree are a sight to behold, particularly in early November when peak summer in the southern hemisphere flowers is in full bloom. There’re jacaranda lined avenues all over the city, though the prettiest is arguably along Old Church Street on the corner of Eastwood and Stanza Bopape. Here, the trees are so close together that creates a tunnel-like canopy of purple flowers. This is home to more than 150 Wisteria flowering plants. At one glance you must be inspire and entice to take a walk through. The best time to visit is April to mid-May, when the flowers are at full bloom. You can walk beneath the lovely hanging multi-colored blossoms for a truly surreal experience.
Jacarandas Walk, Pretoria, South Africa
The Path up to the Halnaker Windmill in Sussex, England is a striking path will take you up to the Halnaker Windmill in Sussex. Without any doubt it is so surreal to looks like it could practically be the setting for a Grimm Brothers’ story.

Autumn Tree Tunnel, Smuggler’s Notch State Park, Stowe, Vermont, USA actually the  dense forests of the park were once used by bootleggers and smugglers during the prohibition era, but as the time passes it has converted into most widespread attractions in the park remains a road covered in trees that form a tunnel-like canopy. The tunnel is at its most beautiful in autumn, when the leaves turn a deep shade of brown, yellow and red. So, when you go further down the road, you will reach a waterfall known locally as “hippie hole.
Autumn Tree Tunnel, Smuggler’s Notch State Park, Stowe, Vermont, USA
Laburnum Tunnel, Bodnant Garden, Tal-y-Cafn, Conwy, in Wales actually a Bodnant Garden is a historic garden spread more than 80 acres surrounding Bodnant. Eventually built in the late 19th century, the house and the attached gardens are now a National Trust property known for its verdant, formal gardens, ponds, and rose gardens. It’s most prevalent feature, remains the artificial tunnel of spectacular yellow-gold laburnum flowers. When in bloom, the flowers totally cover the arch, making for a magnificent sight.
Laburnum Tunnel, Bodnant Garden