Friday, September 30, 2005

ENV: Not-Really-a-Cat-Friday

Well, in the hubbub of getting The Circus of the Spineless up and running i almost let The Friday Ark at The Modulator slip by. Can't do that -- i've got a special guest for this week.

All week i've been logging the escapades of the Striped Skunks at the Cricket Cafe -- our big Mercury-Vapor lights. Noticeably missing has been a Hog-nosed Skunk this year. Early this morning when the crickets were flying in by the thousands, most everything, including 2 Raccoons, 2 Opossums, 3 Striped Skunks and the Red Fox got their fill early and took off. As i was headed back who should i run into in the dark?

You got it, the profile and the usual view of Conepatus mesoleucus in the Kerr County darkness.

Hog-nosed Skunk, Conepatus mesoleucus

ENV: Circus of the Spineless #1

Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Welcome to the Grand Opening of the Big Top. Bootstrap Analysis, Urban Dragon Hunters, milkriverblog, and the “Darkling Beetles, Barnacles and Bailey Circus" are proud to present the first in a long, long line of fantabulous, death-defying, stuntifying but never stultifying, mystical, magical adventures into the Land of the Lords of the Universe. Grab your loved ones, hold on to your children and sit up straight in your chairs. Time to peruse the writings and the imagemakings of the followers of the blogosphere’s favorite animated subjects. Where the motto of the day is “We don’t need no stinking backbones . . .” Come one, come all to The Circus of the Spineless!

Since this is our first time on the big show circuit, we thought a bit of instruction might serve us all well:

Getting Your Tickets to the Big Show

Peruse the show listings, find something you like and click on the link. You’ll find yourself lost in Blogtopia at a magical spot where the tales of the spineless are told, the portraits of their lives on display. When you’ve had your fill simply click your back button to return to The Big Top (that’s right here).

Better yet, save The Big Top post – this one – to your favorites list. Then when you click on a link you can traipse beyond the first post and take a long path through the blog. That is actually what we’d most like – to so enamor you with a few words, a gorgeous picture, that you’ll continue reading the best of Blogtopia. You can always come back here for more by scrolling down your favorites list.

So, What’s On Display?

Like every great Circus we have three rings, each with a different theme. The Center Ring is themed “In the Lab”. Here you will find the centerpiece posts – those that present summaries of original research, or interpret the results of others, sometimes critically. These posts are primarily designed to educate, and we focus on them for their erudition and enlightenment. The second ring has the theme “In the Field” and here we present reminiscences of time spent with our slimy little friends, and the results of trips to seek the fluttering, wiggling, digging, floating, and positively solitarily somnambulant animalia, and even back yard discoveries. Our focus here is on sharing the deeply-felt wonder of something personally new. The third ring is called “Through the Lens”. In this ring we present the best of the best of the captured spirits of our scaly, chitinous and mucosal buddies by professionals and amateurs alike. The focus here is on delighting you with the thousand words there is no need to speak aloud. So choose your favorite ring, grab a bag of peanuts and come back soon.

Where Are These Folks From and How Did They Get Here?

We put up circus posters on as many blogs as we could find and invited writers and photographers to send us their best. Which they certainly did! But, being that we wanted to spread the word about inverts and about blogs where you can find regular writings and photos, we also went in search of posts and photos unsubmitted. Is there a way to tell the difference? No, not really. Of course the only real difference is that submitters chose their own posts, we chose the others (with special thanks to Rurality for many fine nominations!).

Well, that’s about it. I’d say it’s time to settle in for a long night’s read – in fact, we hope it’s many a long night’s read here at The Circus of the Spineless. Here’s your program. Mr. Ringmaster take it away! Oh, and please don’t feed the squid.

The Center Ring

“In The Lab”

The Green Hornet: Holy elongate tentacles Batman, cephalopods have been making national and international news for the last several months – invasions of Humboldt Squid, the SCUBA search for live Giant Squid at Kaikoura Canyon, the captive Octopus that ate a shark, the discovery of the Colossal Squid.

The Ringmaster: Yes, dude in a green suit with a stinger coming out of your . . . Oh . . . but none has quite made the headlines like the announcement by a team of Japanese biologists that they captured the first ever images of a live Giant Squid. And the announcement comes the very week of the first Circus of the Spineless.

The Green Hornet: Wow! Is this fantastic invertebrate coincidence week or what?

Presenting Performer #1) Well, it’s a fascinating story, and the Spineless Blogosphere is all over it. However, we have amongst us a premier Cephalophile, an inveterate blog carnival founder, host, and inspiration, who we feel should have the honors of telling us all about the Giant Squid. Here, with a series on Architeuthis is PZ Myers of Pharyngula. Check out Fishing for the Giant Squid, Great Pelagic Orgies, and Cephalopod Gnashers. And while you’re checking those out maybe you’d like a snack . . . or maybe not.

Performer #2) While we’re visiting the cephalopoda, why not check out squidblog where they furnish news of the possible live sighting of Architeuthis.

Performer #3) Of course Craig McClain at Deep Sea News would rather we focused on the real giant, the Colossal Squid!

Performer #4) Carl Zimmer doesn’t need no stinking blog to teach us about just about anything, but he does anyway in The Loom and we’re richer for it. Here’s an evolutionary look at three quite different groups – The Beauty of Deceit, Love Darts in the Backyard, and An Inordinate Fondness for Horns (there’s a Circus insider nod there).

Performer #5) Aydin Örstan (who by the way is the next host of The Circus of the Spineless – so stay tuned) at Snail’s Tales tells us one of those very tales. But Aydin is another in that coterie of invert specialists whose favorites run beyond one Class. Since Carl took the snail sex above, Aydin just skips over to tell us about bug sex at Naughty Beetles and Evolution.

Performer #6) Our favorite west Texas writer Burr Williams takes a look at a critter few people have seen or know exists – Pseudoscorpions – at The Nature Writers of Texas. Check Burr out at El Llanero.

Performer #7) At The 6th International Mrs. Tilton strolls through Italy and teaches about a host of Arthropods, starting with a spider and moving through beetles, crabs and katydids, and then throws in a jellyfish for a bit limper treat. Then check out the arachnids that are not spiders. Mrs. T is mostly into arachnida though and found the Circus via the spiderblog from whom we’re awaiting some posts!

Performer #8) In a whole other phylum Michael Feldgarden at Mike The Mad Biologist tells us the dark story of the knowns and the unknowns of a new resistant-to-almost-everything bacteria.

Performer #9) Bora Zivkovic over at Science and Politics takes us to school on Ant Lions and how he came to enamor them as a younsgter.

Performer #10) What’s a free-thinking Circus without a little pornography? Well, it’s not that kind, but i am warning you in advance – don’t venture here if you’ve a weak stomach or sensitive leanings, because what you’re going to find is Linda Brown’s Journal of the progression of her Brown Recluse spider bite.

Performer #11) Ro Wauer is a prolific birder and butterflier with a slew of field guides and books of essays to his credit. What better way to showcase him though than to show his range with a Nature Writers of Texas essay on millipedes and a book review of two new tomes on dragonflies.

Performer #12) At Science and Sensibility David tells us that the way you engage in sex (if you happen to be a particular snail) has much to do with your personal parasite load. Some of you are thinking okay load me up. But that’s never the whole story is it? Better read up . . .

Performer #13) At the Hairy Museum of Natural History Matt Celeskey introduces us to some critters we know by their traces in Arthropleura by Moonlight.

Performer #14) Deep below the surface of the ocean afarensis tells us there are Polychaetes eating the bones of whales. But eating doesn’t quite cover the process. Check it out at Bone Eating Sea Worms.

Performer #15) At Organic Matter, the story is about the invasion of Argentine Ants, a genetic bottleneck that was, or wasn’t, and a recipe for success.

Performer #16) Hedwig the Owl at Living the Scientific Life is all up in Bronx Cheers for the Bumblebee. And that buzz? It's a harvesting tool!

Performer #17) Bootstrap Analysis takes us on an underground tour in As The Worm Turns. And this is not your old grade-school worms-are-the-fertility-guardians-of-mother-earth story either. Then follow another slimetrail into the Molluscan version of As The World Turns (or Slug Love, How Was I To Know?), in which our gastropod hero somehow gets compared to an, ick, vertebrate!

Ring Two

“In The Field”

Performer #1) Rurality is rural enough for Karen to find some odd things happening in the back yard – parasitized Catalpa Worms for instance! And then take a look at this Yellow Fuzzy.

Performer #2) At Michigan Odonotes Mark wants to see your Hiney! Well, what he’s really after is the U.S.’s only endangered Dragonfly, Hines’s Emerald. He also reports on the odd conjunction of invasive Zebra Mussels and the larva of a Dragonhunter.

Performer #3) Pam takes Thomasburg Walks and finds the coolest bugs around her garden. This one is a Hummingbird Clearwing.

Performer #4) Nannothemis at Urban Dragon Hunters uses my favorite Odonate non-field guide, Jill Silsby’s Dragonflies of the World, and calls it Ode Porn! Find out why here . . .

Performer #5) I had originally thought that i would allow no disparaging remarks in this Circus. However, i am going to break my own rule and say “What were you thinking?” to this fine bug at The House and Other Arctic Musings. From one endotherm to one ectotherm, i mean “Really . . .”.

Performer #6) Henry at Henry’s Webiocosm Blog had his own question to ask of that guy’s cousin.

Performer #7) Duncan tells a fascinating story of discovering a bit of sleight-of-hand in his youth. When is a flower stem not a flower stem? When it’s a caterpillar tale at Ben Cruachan Blog.

Performer #8) At Niches they watched the life cycle of an Orb-Weaver’s web.

Performer #9) From SwampThings comes a little fuzzy bug and a big not-so-fuzzy warning.

Performer #10) At The Taming of the Band-Aid comes a lovely portrait of a Blue Dasher, but that’s only one small bug in the Band-Aid . . . you’ll have to search for the others.

Performer #11) In the Ozarks they know better than to hang around when you can hear the fury building. Check out RoundRock Journal for the reason why.

Performer #12) Science and Sarcasm gets caught in the “hatch” and makes out just fine . . .

Performer #13) Cindy at the newly reconstituted (and quite lovely) WoodSong, tells about North America's only carnivorous butterfly -- the Harvester. Looking forward to many more submissions from a fellow mothionado. . .

Performer #14) In the last few weeks yours truly has been working feverishly to document the moths of two west Texas Counties. Read a couple of field reports and get in on the action with some closeup photos of the common and the rare at milkriverblog. Check out some of Presidio County in far west Texas from 8-12 September, and some of the denizens of the home place in Kerr County in the Texas Hill Country, from 28 September 2005.

Ring Three

“Through The Lens”

Performer #1) Top Through the Lens honors goes to Blue Ridge Blog’s oh so suave kiss-me-target for being nominated not once, not twice, but three times. So here it is! Of course, all good things may not be as they seem . . .

Performer #2) At Fairweather Zealot it’s an Orb Weaver Spider that hogs the lens.

Performer #3) I don’t care if it is a rarely photographed bug, this is my favorite all-time photo of a Bee Fly. Nannothemis at Urban Dragon Hunters is the image capturer.

Performer #4) I spent a summer cultivating the salivary glands of fruit flies – it’s a long story. But because of that i appreciate that The Questionable Authority has made art with the flies in his photos. And he somehow got them to sit still. He does the same with an endemic Hawaiian Ghost Crab.

Performer #5) The Robot Vegetable at Far Cartouche has a special taste for spiders and has loaded the photoblog Middle-Fork with superb pics

Performer #6) Jennifer Forman Orth at Invasive Species Weblog takes a subtly pastel look at ants on an invasive project plant. And takes a closer look at another ant that just isn’t hyper as usual, and finds it to be a masquerading Alydid bug instead.

Performer #7) Gorgeous photos are the norm at The Jer Zone and occasionally they come spiced with a poem. Or a story.

Performer #8) Elms in the Yard finds plenty to take pictures of in a garden in Israel.

Performer #9) On the River Nene, Katie, the bogbumper, finds a Banded Demoiselle, and an array of insects at Woodwalton Fen.

Performer #10) The Dharma Bums take a ferry and find a Sunflower Sea Star and Anemones along the way. After all that it’s going to be strictly a Lepidoptera showdown.

Performer #11) Pamela Martin at Thomasburg Walks has a Monarch caterpillar on the milkweed (spotted by her neighbor), which is perhaps overshadowed only by the gigacaterpillar of the Cecropia Moth.

Performer #12) Daniel Mosquin finds one of North America’s largest moths, the Polyphemus Moth, Antheraea polyphemus, and uses his Botany Photo of the Day to showcase this “user” of “botany”.

Performer #13) Kreg Ellzey at Bird the Planet, may be keeping his eyes peeled for birds, but his lens is trained on butterflies. Check out his Banded Hairstreak and two Missouri Coppers.

Performer #14) No Direction Home is focused on the Joe Pye Weed, but it’s the Spicebush Swallowtail that really sticks out!

Performer #15) Niches has two swallowtails, a Giant and an Eastern Tiger, albethem in quite different formats.

Performer #16) Radagast at Rhosgobel comes up with a striking caterpillar of his own and a spider that doesn’t look real.

Performer #17) At Southern Highlands Cam the Great Spangled Fritillary hogs the blooms and the lens.

Performer #18) At 7610 it’s probably irrelevant whether it’s an Intermediate Sphinx or a Pandora Sphinx, as long as it’s huge and gorgeous.

Performer #19) De Rerum Natura’s Reed Cartwright asks around and finds out that the subtly beautiful moth outside their house is a Banded Tussock Moth, Halysidota tesselaris.

Performer #20) Natural Japan has some gorgeous butterflies and a striking beetle of species the rest of the world isn’t likely to see.

Performer #21) In the Western Hemisphere again, Naturally Connected blasts us with a menagerie of incredible Costa Rican butterflies and moths.

Performer #22) Well, start on the opening page and then go where you will at Moths in a Connecticut Yard.

Performer #23) The Ontario Wanderer finds amazing caterpillars – Giant Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail – and butterflies too – Viceroy.

Performer #24) Finally, I have a special series of photos of the Melonworm Moth in pheromonal high gear. The Texas legislature recently passed a bill banning this very sort of display at high school football games. Check it out at milkriverblog.

How to Wrap up a Circus

Penultimate Performer) Gentle Folks, i saved, until nearly the very last, my own personal favorite bug blog – because it’s impossible to pick out a single post/day – you just have to windowshop and savor at The Natural Stone. Here’s a teaser to get you started.

And Finally Ladies and Gentlemen, our Last Performer) I figure if you start with giant cephalopods, you ought to end with a tiny one. Here’s junior at DeviantArt

See you next time! Speaking of which . . .

. . . the Second Edition of The Circus of the Spineless will be hosted by Aydin Örstan at Snail’s Tales on October 31st. You should email your submissions to him by October 29th.

P.s. We’re looking for more invertebrate links for the sidebar at the host page for The Circus of the Spineless. Especially if you have a large collection of links that are centered on a specific group, or if you see something important missing from the current list, please pass it along to us.

And, of course, we’re looking for future hosts for The Circus. If you think you might want to do this, check out the links and guideline posts on the main page and then contact us at milkriver.

This blog carnival is registered at The Truth Laid Bear Über Carnival

and at
Blog Carnival archive - circus of the spineless

Don't forget to visit the fantastic Friday Ark at The Modulator every Friday, including today!

Tags: Environment, Nature, Writing, Culture, Science, Invertebrates, Squid, Snails, Butterflies, Moths, Athropleura, Insects

ENV: Observations

Long hard day of work, solving computer problems, and not getting much done . . .

TX: Kerr Co., Rio Vista 30 September 2005
1 Spotted Beet Webworm Moth, Hymenia perspectalis ph
1 Hawaiian Beet Webworm Moth, Spoladea recurvalis ph
1 Two-spotted Herpetogramma Moth, Herpetogramma bipunctalis ph
1 Mocis Moth sp., Mocis sp. ph
1 Two-spotted Palpita Moth, Palpita bipunctalis ph
+ sev. Geometrid sp. ph
+ sev. Noctuid sp. ph
1 Plume Moth sp. I ph

1 Lep sp. ph (UNK)
1 Caterpillar sp. ph (ID?)

5 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Mexican Yellow ph (1st County Record for me)
2 Sleepy Orange
1 Little Yellow
7 Gray Hairstreak
4 Common Buckeye
1 Bordered Patch ph
1 Gulf Fritillary
4 Queen
1 Monarch
7 Clouded Skipper

1 Cucumber Beetle

1 American Cockroach
40 Fall Field Cricket
1 Ground Cricket sp.
1 Gray Bird Grasshopper

3 sp. Mayfly
1 sp. Ephemeroptera ph

3 American Rubyspot
2 Familiar Bluet
1 Comanche Dancer
2 Powdered Dancer
10 Dusky Dancer
1 Black Saddlebags

1 Redbutt Wasp

+ Hemiptera sp.
+ Cicada sp.

2 Turkey Vulture
1 American Kestrel
2 Great Horned Owl
6 White-winged Dove
2 Carolina Wren

1 Hog-nosed Skunk ph
12 White-tailed Deer
12 Axis Deer
1 Elk

Moth 55

Hawaiian Beet Webworm Moth, Spoladea recurvalis

Moth 57

Mexican Yellow, Eurema mexicana

ENV: Hear Ye, Hear Ye! All ye without spine . . .


It's online -- have a great time chasing bugs!

Yo! The Circus of the Spineless is putting finishing touches on The Big Top. Tickets are available and the doors will open shortly. In the meantime please be sure to visit the concession stand.

UPDATE: Well, i guess this what all startups must go through. Blogger (i am restraining myself now) ate the better part of the Circus template. I've been working a few hours now trying to reformat the entire thing by hand. It will be a little bit more time, but i promise it'll be worth the wait. Holy Smokes who knew so many people liked bugs? Back soon. . .

Thursday, September 29, 2005

ENV: Post-Rita Darners

A Note from Brush Freeman . . .

I arrived back here from Bastrop Co. on Saturday morning with Rita
still fussing to the east. No odd birds were noted, but the wonder event this
time around had to do with dragonflies, vast swarms of them along the front
beach in town, near all being exhausted Green Darners. They piled up in every
available shelter out of the wind and I took numerous photos of them hunkering
in numbers under balconies, eaves etc. They appeared almost as tired as
migrating birds and it was sometimes hard to stir the grounded ones into flight.
A few were eating their smaller fellows. There were so many in the air that the
sound of their dry rustling wings could easily be heard above the wind. I did
not have the photo equipment to really get a image that could portray all of
this. By 2:00 pm the lot of them had regained their energy and had dispersed to
parts unknown. Pretty cool. Also a sudden appearance of biting flies came with
Rita, small and looking a lot like houseflies. They too soon vanished.

COM: Blogarithmic #38

Time to check in on football games for the weekend. It'll be the opening of district for most of the teams.

Ingram, still undefeated but with a two-week layoff behind them, plays Goliad at Poteet High School stadium. Smithson Valley will be looking to avenge last week's loss. They play Judson to open district in one of the toughest districts in the state. SV Quarterback committed to play for A&M. Highland Park carries its number two ranking and perfect record into a game with Dallas Lincoln. Tivy is off this week before opening district next week. The Ags are playing Baylor. Perhaps that's a bit tougher than what they've been slaughtering. Let's see if they survive.

Tags: , , , , ,

REV: Penguins, Ice and Credit

Compared With Their Filmmakers, the Penguins Have It Easy
By DOREEN CARVAJAL, The New York Times, September 28, 2005

PARIS, Sept. 27 - The long journey to create and sell the film "March of the Penguins" was as pitiless as the ice-desert migration of the emperor penguins that waddled to cinematic triumph in this sleeper hit of a documentary.

Bonne Pioche, the French company that produced the movie, struggled to avoid bankruptcy while the film was being made and confronted near disaster when its two cameramen were trapped in a deadly Antarctic blizzard. And later it faced new perils: Hollywood backbiting and French film-industry politicking.

"I always kept the image in my mind of the long march and the struggle to survive," said Yves Darondeau, 40, one of three partners in Bonne Pioche. "Like the emperor penguin, we huddled together for warmth. It was extremely difficult, complicated, risky and full of anguish."

Fortunately, the resilient three-foot-high penguins flourish in blizzards, gale-force winds and multiplex theaters. This low-budget film now ranks as the second-highest-grossing feature-length documentary, after "Fahrenheit 9/11," with almost $71 million in box-office receipts in the United States and a DVD version due out on Nov. 29. And that success is raising hopes that penguins can blaze an ice trail for other documentaries created with the tense pace of Hollywood feature films.

"March of the Penguins" leads a wave of documentary films that surfaced this year to critical acclaim, like "Mad Hot Ballroom," a story of New York public school students learning to tango and rumba, and "Murderball," which focuses on a team of rough and tumble wheelchair rugby players. The new-found popularity has given filmmakers more confidence about the future, but financing remains elusive. One reason for optimism is the rapid development of new digital movie networks in many countries; they are intended to nurture specialty markets and slash film printing costs - an expense that has long stymied distributors and filmmakers. The networks, supported by a mix of public and private money, basically supply heavily subsidized digital projectors to theaters to entice exhibitors to show documentaries and non-Hollywood fare.

"The word 'documentary' used to make people shiver," said Kees Ryninks, co-founder of CinemaNet, one of the new networks, which has installed digital projectors in 140 theaters in Europe. Theatergoers initially seemed to shun documentaries after Sept. 11, he said, but they now hunger for movies exploring social and political themes that they cannot see on television. He credits films like "Penguins," "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Super Size Me" for transforming conceptions about "a boring genre into an exciting one."

Enthusiasm, however, does not necessarily equal financing. "There's certainly nobody knocking down the doors, but moving forward there are definitely more opportunities for television and cable," said Heather Winters, the New York producer of "Super Size Me," a film about its director's monthlong experience living on a steady diet of McDonald's meals. Ms. Winters is producing another documentary, "Class Act," which explores American arts education through an eccentric former drama teacher and philanthropist, Jay W. Jensen, and his past students, including the actor Andy Garcia. "We self-financed, but it was blood, sweat and tears to make the money," she said, adding that it would have been impossible to find money for the documentary from other sources.

One towering hurdle for documentary producers is the nearly $25,000 cost of paying for the initial development of a 35-millimeter negative, the master print, which is then used to make other single copies. The expense nearly brought "March of the Penguins" to an ice-crunching halt. With a limited season in which the camera crew could reach the Antarctic penguin colony by a 10-day voyage, Bonne Pioche moved quickly to invest 500,000 euros ($602,500) in the film. It lacked traditional financing from a distributor, a pay-television deal or French government subsidies. That was because it lacked anything to show and entice potential financiers, Mr. Darondeau said. The camera crew, literally marooned in the Antarctic for almost a year because of weather conditions, could not get their film out until they returned, he said.

"This film is a challenge from the beginning to the end," said Luc Jacquet, the film's director, who is now writing the script for his next film about the relationship between a young girl and a fox. "We were so close to the goal. Even if you have no money, if you give energy to a film, it will eventually seduce a financial partner."

Their lowest moment, according to Messrs. Darondeau and Jacquet, was when the film's two-man camera crew, Laurent Chalet and Jérôme Maison, nearly froze to death in a snowstorm last autumn and were rescued through satellite tracking devices. Filming stopped for nearly a month for the two men to recover from severe frostbite, broken bones and wind burns. But once they returned, the company teetered toward bankruptcy and a new disaster loomed: "We were at the limit and couldn't afford to pay to develop the film," recalled Mr. Darondeau, who said they recovered by creating a three-minute reel to show distributors.

Eventually the film, which cost more than 2 million euros ($2,410,000) to produce, was acquired for North American distribution by Warner Independent Pictures and National Geographic Feature Films. They spent more than $1 million on the film, beating Disney's Buena Vista, which holds a 20 percent interest in the French version.

The new distributors decided to modify the movie, according to Adam Leipzig, president of National Geographic Feature Films, who said that otherwise the film "would have been purely an art-house movie."

The cutting-edge electronic soundtrack in the French version was replaced with a symphonic score by Alex Wurman, and the soft voices of three penguin characters were substituted with classic wildlife narration by the gravel-voiced Morgan Freeman. The title was changed from "La Marche de l'Empereur," "March of the Emperor."

"Going from voices of a mommy, daddy and baby penguin to a storyteller telling a story," Mr. Leipzig said, "is a significant shift." Bonne Pioche, whose name means a lucky card hand, accepted those changes to reach a broader market. But Mr. Jacquet pointed out that the French style was intact for international audiences like those in China, where the movie has also been popular.

"The American version is a little less creative," Mr. Jacquet said. "You design something with a special point of view, and this special point of view still exists, but less creatively."

The issue led to one more challenge in the French filmmakers' arduous passage: negotiating film-industry politics on both sides of the Atlantic. Mr. Darondeau said that he hoped France would nominate the French version for an Oscar in the foreign-language film category, and that he expected Warner Independent Pictures to submit the American version as a documentary.

But last week, his hopes were dashed when the news broke that France had instead nominated a World War I drama in limited release, "Joyeux Noël" ("Merry Christmas"). The movie trade magazine Screen Daily described a behind-the-scenes struggle, as some French producers publicly complained, noting that that film had barely met the release dates required to qualify for a nomination.

In Hollywood, meanwhile, the jockeying for credit on "March of the Penguins" was taking place. Last month, Jordan Roberts, a film director turned writer, claimed credit in a Los Angeles Times article for essentially "re-envisioning" the film by writing the narration and substituting a new soundtrack.

Mr. Jacquet scoffs at that view. "There are millions of people around the planet who like the French version, my version," he said with a laugh. And like the penguin stars of the movie, Mr. Jacquet has never met Mr. Roberts.

ENV: Observations

As in last night, there's almost nothing around to speak of. One large sphinx on the mercury vapor pole. Five species of mayflies at the sheets. There does seem to be an influx of small Hemipterans of several species. A few odds and ends. It is breezy and noticeably cooler, though not really cool. Of course after stifling temperatures yesterday a forest fire would be cool.

Update: It's dawning cooler and a bit breezy. It's overcast, which may bode well. I did notice in a walk to the big light pole that the ground is literally covered in field crickets. Interesting because only a couple showed up at the lightsheets all night. I can feel one of those Friday Night Football games coming on where there are swarms of crickets at the lights. Oh, the fun of that! I'll post a story in the next few days about that kind of event.

1 p.m. and it has stayed mostly overcast, though there have been minutes of sun. The high so far has been 77 and that was an hour ago. It's going down . . .

Guess i was lucky to have checked out the patch so thoroughly yesterday -- today's it's been vacated for the most part.

Update again: Sun came out well at about 3 p.m. and activity picked up again quickly. Numbers not as high as yesterday but still good. A couple of new bugs for the patch -- a Pearl Crescent, which is usually present in numbers just down the road, was present today, and only my second ever Soldier for Rio Vista and the county. Photos of both coming later on.

Excellent night! Huge cricket emergence. Cool critters. Will write lots of notes later after i finish the Circus and work. But cool, very cool.

TX: Kerr Co., Rio Vista, Duranta and The Patch, plus light sets, 29 September 2005

1 Red Earthworm sp.

1 Five-spotted Hawkmoth, Manduca quinquemaculata ph
1 Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth, Hypoprepia miniata ph
1 Ailanthus Webworm Moth, Atteva punctella ph
4 Spotted Beet Webworm Moth, Hymenia perspectalis ph
2 Two-spotted Herpetgramma Moth, Herpetogramma bipunctalis ph
4 Melonworm Moth, Diaphania hyalinata
2 Mocis Moth sp., Mocis sp. ph
2 Four-spotted Palpita Moth, Palpita quadristigmalis ph
+ sev. Geometrid sp. ph
+ sev. Noctuid sp. ph
1 cf. Pyrausta sp. ph
1 cf. Pyrausta sp. II
1 Southern Emerald Moth, Synchlora frondaria
1 Texas Wasp Moth, Horama panthalon texanaph
1 Plume Moth sp. I ph
1 Plume Moth sp. II ph
1 brown caterpillar

12 Pipevine Swallowtail ph
1 Black Swallowtail
3 Giant Swallowtail ph
2 Large Orange Sulphur
2 Orange Sulphur
4 Southern Dogface
1 Cloudless Sulphur ph
16 Sleepy Orange
5 Little Yellow ph
25 Dainty Sulphur
21 Gray Hairstreak ph (1 at lightsheet)
1 Dusky-Blue Groundstreak ph (see photo on post of the 28th)
3 Reakirt's Blue ph
2 Ceraunus Blue
6 Phaon Crescent
5 Graphic Crescent ph
1 Pearl Crescent ph
30 Bordered Patch
1 Tawny Emperor ph
10 Common Buckeye
1 Painted Lady ph
18 Gulf Fritillary
6 Variegated Fritillary ph
1 American Snout ph
1 Soldier ph
32 Queen ph
4 Monarch ph
2 Funereal Duskywing
2 False Duskywing
4 Common/White Checkered-Skipper ph
15 Clouded Skipper ph
24 Sachem ph
20 Fiery Skipper ph
4 Eufala Skipper ph
1 Ocola Skipper ph
1 Julia's Skipper
1 Celia's Roadside-Skipper

10,000 Fall Field Cricket ph
3 Ground Cricket sp.
4 Trig sp. ph
1 Bush Katydid, Scudderia sp. ph

+ Planthopper sp. ph

+ many Hemiptera sp. ph

1 Tiger Beetle sp. ph
3 Cucumber Beetle sp. ph
1 Red Ladybird Beetle sp. ph
1 Imported Ladybird Beetle sp. ph

4 Green-eyed Red Robber Fly sp.
++ Midgefly sp.
++ Whitefly sp. ph

1 Orange Wasp ph
16 Redbutt Wasp ph
1 Gunmetal Blue Wasp

4 sp. Mayfly ph
1 sp. Ephemeroptera ph

6 American Rubyspot, Hetaerina americana
2 Smoky Rubyspot, Hetaerina titia
6 Familiar Bluet, Enallagma civile
1 Blue-fronted Dancer, Argia apicalis
12 Blue-ringed Dancer, Argia sedula
40 Dusky Dancer, Argia translata ph
2 Comanche Dancer, Argia barretti
2 Swift Setwing, Dythemis velox
1 Pale-faced Clubskimmer, Brechmorhoga mendax

1 Rumina decollata
1 Praticolella berlandieriana *
1 Helicina orbiculata *
+ Corbicula fluminea

1 Whiptail sp., Cnemidophorus sp. ph

4 Turkey Vulture
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 American Kestrel
2 Great Horned Owl
10 Mourning Dove
1 Inca Dove
1 Green Kingfisher
1 Belted Kingfisher
3 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
3 Eastern Phoebe
1 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
4 Blue Jay
1 Western Scrub-Jay
1 Common Raven
4 Carolina Wren
1 Bewick's Wren
1 House Wren
1 Carolina Chickadee
2 Eastern Bluebird
3 Northern Cardinal
1 Indigo Bunting
1 Lincoln's Sparrow
4 House Finch
4 Lesser Goldfinch

10 Bat sp. ph
2 Virginia Opossum ph
1 Feral Cat
1 Red Fox
2 Raccoon
3 Striped Skunk
24 White-tailed Deer
8 Axis Deer

TX: Kerr Co., Ingram

1 Turkey Vulture
1 Common Nighthawk
40 White-winged Dove
60 Great-tailed Grackle

Soldier, Danaus eresimus

Virginia Opossum, Didelphis marsupialis

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

ENV: Giant Squid photographed

And just in time for Circus of the Spineless!

Scientists photograph giant squid

TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Japanese scientists have photographed for the first time in the wild a live giant squid, one of the most mysterious creatures of the deep sea.

The team, led by Tsunemi Kubodera from the National Science Museum in Tokyo, tracked the 8-meter (25-foot) long Architeuthis as it attacked prey at 900 meters deep off the coast of Japan's Bonin islands.

"We believe this is the first time a grown giant squid has been captured on camera in its natural habitat," said Kyoichi Mori, a marine researcher who co-authored a piece on the finding in the Royal Society Journal, a leading British biological publication.

The camera was operated by remote control during research at the end of October 2004, Mori told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Mori said the squid, which was purplish red like smaller squid, attacked its quarry aggressively, calling into question the image of the animal as lethargic and slow moving.

"Contrary to belief that the giant squid is relatively inactive, the squid we captured on film actively used its enormous tentacles to go after prey," Mori said.

"It went after some bait that we had on the end of the camera and became stuck, and left behind a tentacle six meters long, " Mori said.

Kubodera, also reached by the AP, said researchers ran DNA tests on the tentacle and found it matched those of other giant squids found around Japan.

`'But other sightings were of smaller, or very injured squids washed toward the shore -- or of parts of a giant squid," Kubodera said. "This is the first time a full-grown, healthy squid has been sighted in its natural environment in deep water."

Giant squids have long attracted human fascination and were written about and mythologized by the ancient Greeks.

Scientific interest in the animals has surged in recent years as more specimens have been caught in commercial fishing nets.

ENV: Observations

Again, early in the a.m. there's a blast of tiny mayflies.

I've been having to battle fire ants a bit -- they've figured out that bugs die and fall off the sheet and there's a ready mail awaiting. Some have tried to climb up on the sheet but i put a stop to that part. Otherwise i'm herding with judicious spraying. Still it seems rather odd to be trying to draw insects and then to battle them.

I also had my first cockroach at the sheet tonight. That one i've been expecting. Actually it was at the bait -- the only things drawn to that so far are a katydid last night and the roach tonight. WIll work the orthopterans a little better soon.

I found a wing of a Vine Sphinx at the lights, so the one that flew in last night was not the only one about. Looks like the fire ants took care of the other.

At dawn, there were four sphinx moths at the mercury-vapor light. Two were huge, and though i first thought they were different species i now think they may be the same based on distant pictures (they are Five-spotted Hawkmoths). I haven't IDed them yet though. There was also a White-lined Sphinx, dwarfed by the other two, and a smaller Erynnyis type (and Obscure Sphinx). While i was trying to get photos a Golden-fronted Woodpecker flew in and picked it off. Lots of smaller moths around.

P.m. update: Well, the butterflies have finally arrived! And not a minute too late as the flowers are beginning to fade. Good stuff today at The Patch and the Duranta. And numbers like i haven't seen in a couple of years. Just excellent. Working to see if a couple of things i photographed are new county records -- one i've seen a few times before but never collected or photographed (Great Southern White). The other is a lifer, though i've looked southward for it. Nice to finally get it (White-M Hairstreak). Updates later. . .

Update: Both species have been previously documented in the county so no big records -- but big for me. Also my first Eastern Tailed-Blues besides my first one. And later my first county Black Setwing. Pretty exciting day all told (especially considering it hit 104 here -- and we're at 2000' -- i feel for you lowlanders). Photos coming tonight sometime (well maybe i the next couple of days -- too much work to do).

Perhaps in anticipation of a change in weather there's almost nothing out late -- at the lights or the sheet.

TX: Kerr Co., Rio Vista 28 September 2005
1 Ailanthus Webworm Moth, Atteva punctella ph
6 Ironweed Root Moth, Polygrammodes flavidalis ph
1 Melonworm Moth, Diaphania hyalinata ph
[1 Vine Sphinx, Eumorpha vitis, dead/wing]
2 Five-spotted Sphinx, Manduca quinquemaculata ph
1 White-lined Sphinx, Hyles lineata ph
1 Obscure Sphinx, Erynnyis obscura ph
[3 Sphinx sp., dead/wings]
1 cf. Pyrausta sp. I ph
1 cf. Pyrausta sp. II ph
1 Texas Wasp Moth, Horama panthalon texana

25 Pipevine Swallowtail ph
6 Giant Swallowtail ph
1 Spicebush Swallowtail
4 Black Swallowtail ph
2 Great Southern White ph
5 Cloudless Sulphur
7 Large Orange Sulphur ph
10 Southern Dogface ph
2 Orange Sulphur
35 Sleepy Orange ph
16 Little Yellow
40 Dainty Sulphur ph
2 Lyside ph
60 Gray Hairstreak ph
1 White-M Hairstreak ph (new for me)
1 Scrub-Hairstreak sp. ph (unable to identify)
5 Eastern Tailed-Blue ph (only the second+ i've ever seen here)
8 Reakirt's Blue ph
1 Ceraunus Blue ph
1 American Lady
150 Common Buckeye ph
75 Bordered Patch ph
8 Graphic Crescent
24 Phaon Crescent ph
5 Tawny Emperor
50 Gulf Fritillary ph
6 Variegated Fritillary ph
1 American Snout ph
300 Queen ph
6 Monarch ph
3 Funereal Duskywing
2 False Duskywing ph
7 Common/White Checkered-Skipper ph
1 Julia's Skipper
1 Eufala Skipper ph
5 Clouded Skipper ph
40 Fiery Skipper ph
90 Sachem ph

1 American Cockroach
30 Fall Field Cricket, Gryllus pensylvanica
1 Ground Cricket sp.
1 Handsome Grasshopper, Syrbula admirabilis
3 Obscure Bird Grasshopper, Schistocerca obscura
+ hundreds small grasshoppers

+ Green Hemiptera sp.
1 Wheelbug sp.

1 Tiger Beetle sp. I
1 Tiger Beetle sp. II ph

2 Ischnura sp.
11 Orange-striped Threadtail, Protoneura cara
30 American Rubyspot, Hetaerina americana
6 Smoky Rubyspot, Hetaerina titia
1 Neotropical Bluet, Enallagma novaehispaniae
40 Double-striped Bluet, Enallagma basidens
25 Familiar Bluet, Enallagma civile ph
200 Blue-ringed Dancer, Argia sedula
300 Dusky Dancer, Argia translata
1 Powdered Dancer, Argia moesta
1 Kiowa Dancer, Argia immunda
1 Aztec Dancer, Argia nahuana
6 Comanche Dancer, Argia barretti
3 Common Green Darner, Anax junius
2 Eastern Ringtail, Erpetogomphus designatus
1 Gomphid sp.
12 Swift Setwing, Dythemis velox ph

+ 5 sp. Mayfly

2 Large Cicada sp.

1 Beelzebub Bee-eater, Mallophora leschenaulti
8 Green-eyed Red Robber Fly sp.

+ Fire Ants
1 Gunmetal Blue Wasp sp.
30 Redbutt Wasp sp.
1 Hornet sp.
++ Honeybee

1 Praticolella berlandieriana *(another first alive in the county for me)
1 Stenotrema leai *
1 Polygyra sp. *
1 Polygyra mooreana *
2 Rumina decollata *
1 Helicodiscus sp. *
1 Planorbella anceps anceps *
+ Corbicula fluminea

100 Black-tailed Shiner
1 Greenthroat Darter
20 Bluegill
1 Largemouth Bass

40 Blanchard's Cricket Frog

3 Texas Slider

2 Black Vulture
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
2 American Kestrel
1 Eastern Screech-Owl
1 Great Horned Owl
2 Mourning Dove
10 White-winged Dove
1 Chimney Swift
1 Belted Kingfisher
3 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
1 Eastern Phoebe
9 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
2 Blue Jay
2 Carolina Wren
1 Canyon Wren
4 Carolina Chickadee
3 Black-crested Titmouse
9 Common Bushtit ph
3 Northern Cardinal
2 Indigo Bunting (overhead migrants)
1 Lincoln's Sparrow
5 House Finch
1 Lesser Goldfinch

6 Bat sp.
1 Virginia Opossum
2 Fox Squirrel
3 Striped Skunk
1 Feral Cat
1 Elk
2 Axis Deer
30 White-tailed Deer

TX: Kerr Co., Ingram Dam Lake, 28 September 2005
1 Bagworm Moth ph

4 Pipevine Swallowtail
2 Black Swallowtail ph
1 Cloudless Sulphur
1 Large Orange Sulphur
4 Southern Dogface
4 Orange Sulphur ph
40 Sleepy Orange
5 Dainty Sulphur
2 Gray Hairstreak
1 Reakirt's Blue
10 Common Buckeye
15 Bordered Patch
2 Graphic/Phaon Crescent (indeterminate oddities) ph
2 Phaon Crescent
5 Pearl Crescent ph
20 Gulf Fritillary
1 Variegated Fritillary
4 Viceroy ph
10 Queen
1 Monarch
1 Funereal Duskywing
1 Common/White Checkered-Skipper
1 Julia's Skipper
1 Clouded Skipper
1 Ocola Skipper
12 Fiery Skipper ph
15 Sachem

25 Familiar Bluet, Enallagma civile
20 Blue-ringed Dancer, Argia sedula
5 Swift Setwing, Dythemis velox
1 Black Setwing, Dythemis nigrescens (new for the county for me)
1 Checkered Setwing, Dythemis fugax
4 Eastern Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis simplicicollis
2 Black Saddlebags, Tramea lacerata

20 Blanchard's Cricket Frog

5 Spotted Sandpiper
3 Killdeer
30 White-winged Dove
30 Chimney Swift
1 Belted Kingfisher (no Ringed today)
1 Barn Swallow
1 Carolina Wren
1 Northern Mockingbird
40 Great-tailed Grackle

TX: Kerr Co., Ingram, 28 September 2005
1 Common Green Darner, Anax junius

1 Southern Dogface
4 Queen
2 Pipevine Swallowtail

2 White-winged Dove
5 Eurasian Collared-Dove
6 European Starling
6 Great-tailed Grackle

1 dead mouse, Peromyscus sp.

Handsome Grasshopper, Syrbula admirabilis

Between the 28th and 29th i've had seven Lycaenids if you count the unknown Scrub-Hairstreak. Seven is good here, don't know that i've done that very often. A couple of these are good species for here as well -- White-M Hairstreak, my first in the county, and Eastern Tailed-Blue, only my second time in the county.

Ceraunus Blue, Hemiargus ceraunus

Reakirts Blue, Hemiargus isola

White-M Hairstreak, Parrhasius m-album

Gray Hairstreak, Strymon melinus

Eastern Tailed-Blue, Everes comyntas

Dusky-Blue Groundstreak, Calycopis isobeon
-- this was photographed on the 29th --

Some other local scarcities

Great Southern White, Ascia monuste

Large Orange Sulphur, Phoebis agarithe

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

ENV: Observations

Revenge of the mini-Mayflies

TX: Kerr Co., Rio Vista 27 September 2005

So far (early a.m.) it's been a night for spotted moths! Also after about 2 a.m. there was an emergence of the tiniest of the mayflies i've recorded. That, after a few hours ago's emergence of the larger species. Also had some new visitors at the cricket cafe -- three raccoons, which were quite a bit warier than the skunks.

6:15 a.m. A new sphinx in the window this morning -- a Vine Sphinx, Eumorpha vitis, which i almost passed off as just another White-lined Sphinx. Pictures on the way.

6:45 a.m. I go to check the lights for the last time, and i see an animated critter at the lights. Usually my immediate thought would be Gray Fox -- i see them at least every other week, sometimes more often (especially at this time of year when the crickets are thick). But something seemed different. So i eased up and got my binoculars on it. It was a critter i consider one of the rarest in the county. In 20 years here i've only seen a couple -- a Red Fox. It's also the first on the property. Because it was just twilight i figured i didn't have much of a chance of a picture, but i wanted some documentation. With the camera in nightshot mode i started snapping away, easing up all the while. I really didn't think i'd have much, and soon the critter sensed me and started to take off, but i squeaked, mostly to get it to stop for one last picture -- instead it came running straight at me. It finally stopped and sat down about 50 yards away. It then got up and zig-zagged as though trying to get a better look at what i was. I kept squeaking and taking pictures. Even though none of them show color, you can see the long legs typical of this species, and in one pic you can see the black/dark legs. Very cooool.

At 7:30 a.m. i stopped by the pool below Ingram Dam -- several days this week i've seen the female Ringed Kingfisher roosting there early in the morning. This is a rare critter up this way. I see them one or a couple of times a year, but rarely can i pinpoint one for others to see. I posted on TexBirds yesterday that this one had been hanging out here. Since i'd spread the word i thought i ought to check to see if anyone was down there looking -- no one was. The bird is spooky. I'd try to photograph it yesterday but it zipped away before i could get a pic. This morning i tried easing my Jeep down the road and it sat long enough for me to get off one pic of it sitting. I fired off another as it took off, and just happened to catch it in flight. Both pics are pretty distant but they're identifiable. I'll post these tonight -- it's getting close to bedtime.

11:30 p.m. Almost no activity at the lights tonight. It's still and muggy after another 100 degree day. No large mammals about to speak of. The only two moths at the light are an Ironweed Root Moth and a little red Pyraulid that i suspect is a Pyrausta but can't match to species. Zero mayflies.

+ Fall Field Cricket
2 Green Mantis sp.
1 Brown Mantis sp.

1 Ironweed Root Moth, Polygrammodes flavidalis ph
1 Spotted Beet Webworm Moth, Hymenia perspectalis ph
1 Four-spotted Palpita Moth, Palpita quadristigmalis ph
1 Two-spotted Herpetogramma Moth, Herpetogramma bipunctalis ph
1 Plume Moth sp. I ph
1 Plume Moth sp. II ph
1 Sawgrass Moth, Xylena sp. ph
1 Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth, Hyproprepia miniata
1 Grape Leaffolder Moth, Desmia funeralis ph
1 Vine Sphinx, Eumorpha vitis ph

2 Tawny Emperor ph (one as prey of Robber Fly)
1 Variegated Fritillary
6 Phaon Crescent

1 Robber Fly, poss. Efferia sp. ph

+ 6 sp. Mayfly ph

3 Tiger Beetle sp. ph
1 Cotinis sp.

1 Great Horned Owl
1 White-winged Dove
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
1 Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
1 Eastern Phoebe
2 Blue Jay
2 Carolina Wren
7 House Finch

1 Red Fox ph
3 Raccoon
4 Striped Skunk ph
8 White-tailed Deer
30 Axis Deer

TX: Kerr Co., Ingram Dam 27 September 2005
1 Ringed Kingfisher ph
1 White-winged Dove
1 Northern Mockingbird

TX: Kerr Co., Ingram 27 September 2005
2 Eurasian Collared-Dove
12 White-winged Dove
2 European Starling
10 Great-tailed Grackle

Vine Sphinx, Eumorpha vitis

Spotted Beet Webworm Moth, Hymenia perspectalis

Four-spotted Palpita Moth, Palpita quadristigmalis

Two-spotted Herpetogramma Moth, Herpetogramma bipunctalis

Plume Moth sp. 23, poss. Stenoptilia sp.

Unknown Plume Moth sp. 24

Sawgrass Moth sp. 25, Xylena sp.

Grape Leaffolder Moth, Desmia funeralis

Six species of Mayfly in one frame . . .

the numbers refer to the matching closeups in previous posts.

Robber Fly sp., poss. Efferia sp., with Tawny Emperor

Camel Cricket sp.

Cotinis sp.

Tiger Beetle sp., Cicindela sp.

Raccoon, Procyon lotor

Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes

Ringed Kingfisher, Ceryle torquata