Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Dumpster Diver

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Midnight snacks are served seven nights a week here at Chez Fragève…


Round Tops

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

This morning at Lake Merritt. There are two “round tops” in this photo: the turtle’s shell, and the distinctive peak in Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve called Round Top, which is visible in the background.

Round Tops

Smudge of Ashen Fluff

Monday, December 14th, 2009

I often spot this bird in the tree outside my window. He (she?) was waiting out the rain there on Sunday morning.


Not the greatest bird photos ever, but I like the varied textures of its feathers.


(This post does need some avian title. Help me, Vlad! Smudge of Ashen Fluff.)

“To Whom it May Concern”

Friday, November 27th, 2009

I certainly won’t defend people who neglect to pick up after their dogs (in addition to contributing to filth in our city, they give the rest of us dog owners a bad name), but I’m not sure this is the most effective response:

To Whom it May Concern

(I blocked out the author’s name and phone number in the image.)

That sign is posted to a tree in a smallish park wedged between Park Boulevard and 5th Avenue which has informally become used as a dog park by a lot of people in the neighborhood. It is currently illegal to take one’s dog there, as it is illegal to take one’s dog to most Oakland city parks, but the law is mostly unenforced at this location, and many people let their dogs run around on the grass off leash despite the lack of fencing and the busy streets nearby. (In case anyone is wondering whether I have ever done such a thing myself, I invoke my fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination).

Some local dog owners are trying to get a fenced dog park built there, or to have the whole park designated as a legal dog park, so that dogs can at least be legally allowed in the park on leashes. (Pat Kernighan, who represents my district on the Oakland City Council, is taking an online survey to gauge community interest and opinion regarding a fenced dog park or a dogs-allowed policy in that park.) Naturally, some neighbors are strongly opposed to turning even one end of the park into a dog park, and I wonder if the person who nailed the above note to the tree is part of the backlash against the dog park supporters.

As I said, I can’t defend inconsiderate or irresponsible dog owners, but I wish some of the dog-haters would appreciate the benefits that responsible dog owners bring to their neighborhood. Oftentimes the only people I see walking around the streets in my neighborhood, especially after dark, are other neighbors walking their dogs. All of those “eyes on the street” make everyone in the neighborhood safer against muggers, burglars, car thieves, and so on. And most of the people I know in my surrounding neighborhood are people that I have gotten to know by walking my dog around every day (this includes people who don’t own dogs, but who recognize me and say hello when I’m walking past their homes). Those community benefits may be less quantifiable than a pile of dog shit on the sidewalk, but they are real nonetheless.

San Francisco Tropical

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

There’s been a bit of a blogging lull here in recent weeks, so here’s another placeholder post—some photos from the California Academy of Sciences a few days ago.

I didn’t take too many pictures, but I wanted to see how photos from the dim exhibition halls or through glass and water in the aquarium would come out. For the most part, I was pleasantly surprised, although some of the shadowy lighting—in the frog photos, for example—caused some difficulties.

Stealth Jellyfish

Some young fashion plate may want to consider this color scheme for his or her next fixed gear bike:

Fish of Color

Are you really what you eat? A sampling of objects that have been found in the stomachs of great white sharks:


To each his own

Inner Circle

Oakland Egrets

Friday, August 7th, 2009

I posted a few egret shots to Flickr (taken yesterday on the estuary near the Coliseum) for commenter Wordnerd’s sake (Wordnerd is gaga for egrets).

Smart Chimpanzees, Stupid Human Beings

Friday, March 13th, 2009

An Associated Press dispatch from Sweden:

STOCKHOLM – A canny chimpanzee who calmly collected a stash of rocks and then hurled them at zoo visitors in fits of rage has confirmed that apes can plan ahead just like humans, a Swedish study said Monday. Santino the chimpanzee’s anti-social behavior stunned both visitors and keepers at the Furuvik Zoo but fascinated researchers because it was so carefully prepared.

According to a report in the journal Current Biology, the 31-year-old alpha male started building his weapons cache in the morning before the zoo opened, collecting rocks and knocking out disks from concrete boulders inside his enclosure. He waited until around midday before he unleashed a “hailstorm” of rocks against visitors, the study said.

“Anti-social behavior?” Who locked up whom in a confined space? Further down in the article, we get this:

For a while, zoo keepers tried locking Santino up in the morning so he couldn’t collect ammunition for his assaults, but he remained aggressive. They ultimately decided to castrate him in the autumn last year, but will have to wait until the summer to see if that helps. The chimpanzees are only kept outdoors between April and October and Santino’s special behavior usually occurs in June and July.

“It is normal behavior for alpha males to want to influence their surroundings … It is extremely frustrating for him that there are people out of his reach who are pointing at him and laughing,” Osvath said. “It cannot be good to be so furious all the time.”

Here’s a thought: It also cannot be good to be kept indoors for half of the year! And even chimpanzees, our closest relatives, can probably tell when they’re being laughed at!