Readers’ wildlife photgraphs

February 1, 2015 • 8:15 am

Today we’re stretching the boundaries of “wildlife” again, so that this time it includes geology.  Reader Jonathan Wallace encloses some nice photos of the English coast that give some history:

These were taken from a coastal dune system a little way north of where I live in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  During the last ice age there was a continuous land bridge across to the continent but this was broken when sea levels rose after the ice melted and there has been continual erosion of the east coast of England since then.  The current coastline was therefore in prehistoric times some distance inland, and the erosion of the dunes at this place revealed a band of peat beneath the sand created through the infilling of a fresh water mire.  Because of the anoxic conditions in the peat, wood and other organic material falling into it were preserved and, as can be seen in the pictures, there are lots of logs and bits of tree branch embedded in the peat and eroding out.  I believe the top of the peat layer has been dated to around 800 BC so a bit less than three thousand years old and the bottom layer is considerably older.  ‘Bog oak’ is commonly dug out of peat workings in Ireland and elsewhere and is often sufficiently well preserved to permit its use as a sought after wood carving material.

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The remains of trees preserved in peat:

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Finally, if you want your ration of critters, here are some lovely photos sent in by a new contributor, Keira from Australia:

Here are ravens from Matilda Bay on the Swan River, Perth, WA [“Western Australia”]:

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A raptor:

Here is a newcomer to the neighbourhood – a hobby falcon [JAC: probably the brown falconFalco berigora]. It was really windy and I don’t have a fantastic zoom lens. I think he’s a juvenile looking to establish a territory around here, ’cause he’s been here on 3 occasions.  I’m in the inner city – not at all rural.

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Finally, here’s Keira’s cat, a female named Fattee Cattee,  also described on her website:

I like this portrait of my fluffy girl – she looks very serious:

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15 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photgraphs

  1. Several fairly knowledgable people have identified the falcon as probably being a hobby falvon because of the yellow legs & the face markings. Uncommon but not impossible.

    1. I’ve seen Hobbies (Falco longipennis) a couple of times near the lower Swan (North Fremantle), so I’m happy with that ID for a Perth bird. Browns are very variable but the pale cheek marking usually gets very close to the eye.

  2. I love buried forests.

    There are similar outcroppings of glacial-age forest that can be found weathering out on the western side of Lake Michigan near Two Rivers. There’s something especially cool about picking up a piece of water-logged wood that was buried before humans were running around the New World.

    1. I seem to recall reading somewhere that historically, many of the cedar shingles used in housing construction in the Northeastern US were mined from peat bogs in New Jersey. However I don’t seem to be able to find a ready reference for this.

  3. I am not sure whether my previous attempt to post a comment got through. The falcon is probably the Australian Hobby Falco longipennis. Brown Falcon is a very large bird, and the bird depicted looks small.

  4. Such interesting photos of peat. Who would have thought?
    Keira, besides being very good pictures I see a lovely sense of composition. I really like the iridescent effects on each raven feather.

  5. Some very nice pictures of the cat as well. Would not have the guts to use that name on a female of any species.

  6. Interesting story about the peat. That last one has a good amount of pareidolia in it (at least to me).

    The eye of the Raven in the second photo is really cool. I like how you framed all your photos, that’s a nice touch.

  7. I am a bit mystified by these statements:

    “During the last ice age there was a continuous land bridge across to the continent but this was broken when sea levels rose after the ice melted and there has been continual erosion of the east coast of England since then. The current coastline was therefore in prehistoric times some distance inland, and the erosion of the dunes at this place revealed a band of peat beneath the sand created through the infilling of a fresh water mire.”

    Why would the coastline be “inland.” I can think of one reason, so I will ask if that is the case. The land mass was depressed by the weight of ice and isostatic rebound was delayed thus allowing the sea to transgress inland?

    Further, I am not aware that sea level has risen and then fallen any appreciable amount after the last ice age. It has rather generally risen, albeit at varying rates. Otherwise, I cannot see why the coastline should have been inland unless there has been some other uplift going on.

    1. I think you may have misinterpreted the text. What is now the coastline was formerly inland, i.e. the sea has encroached. As you would expect.

      On the other hand, sea levels during the Holocene have had peaks in mean tide level 2-3 m above current, so there are ‘raised beaches’ in some places where the land hasn’t been rising at all. These peaks weren’t globally uniform, so maybe something to do with the gravitation of ice masses, on which I watched a fascinating (long) video lecture recently.

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