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Why nature is awesome


I already posted this in another thread, but a second encounter in less than 7 days has prompted me to ask this of others.

Last week I was driving home from getting my car worked on for a software issue. It is a 45min 50 mile trek. Shortly after leaving the town where the dealership is located I merge on the interstate and there is a long bend in the road that stretches for about a mile. In the distance there is a huge bird. For a moment I think it might be a turkey vulture, as they are common were I live. But this was different. It just was not moving the same. I am no Ornathologist, but I was left wondering what this bird could be while driving 70mph. Well, it makes a slight dip at some treetops and changes course. I think this is great because our paths will cross and I will be able to see what it was. When we meet I look up and see the largest bald eagle I have ever seen with a squirrel in its talons…

Earlier this week, I was opening the front door to where I work. It is overcast outside and there is a bird flying over the parking lot way up high… When it turns and shows it back to me the clouds let slip a sliver of light allowing me to see probably the second largest bald eagle I have ever seen.

You must understand, this is not because of patriotism… When I was growing up, I never once saw a bald eagle in the wild near where I live. They just did not live near by. If you wanted to see one you would have to travel allll the way to the Mississippi River in winter to see them. The reason why this is so amazing to me is that they use to live in the area a long time ago, and now they finally have returned. My parents though this was not a big deal because for this entire winter a bald eagle has been taking a break and chilling in a tree at their house almost everyday… :unamused:

The question: What is the coolest nature thing you have ever seen?


I’m lucky enough to have scuba dived all around Asia so for me it’s really just having been able to get a close look at the incredible life in our oceans.

Sea turtles, sharks, underwater snakes (YIKES) and all kinds of things. I seriously miss being underwater.


Likewise. It’s hard for anything else to compare to what you can see in tropical waters.


In my day to day job I sometimes use a tractor with an 11’ mower to cut down large leases of prairie grass. This sends a lot of field mice and voles scurrying everywhere.

I’ve had hawks, owls, and sometimes seagulls follow me around for hours as they pick off newly revealed rodents, chow down, and then grab another one. It’s pretty cool to watch.

More exotically, it’d have to be snorkelling in Hawaii and seeing green sea turtles in their natural habitat. Coming from a landlocked province and only being to the ocean a couple of times it was mind blowing to see so much life among the reefs and not be watching a documentary.


I’m not sure I’d say it’s the most amazing thing I’ve seen, that’s kinda a complicated whatsit, but I was fishing with friends outside of Neah Bay Washington and we caught a Rockfish. We had to throw it back because of the particular rules around rockfish in the area and a massive bird–probably an osprey–passed a few feet over our heads to snatch the fish from a dozen or so yards behind the boat.

I live in semi-rural Pacific Northwest so I have a somewhat different perspective on things like bald eagles. :stuck_out_tongue: On the flip side, I’m easily impressed so I’m excited by the rather mundane occurrence of a squirrel or rabbit peeking out of the bushes. Or, at least hereabouts, a bald eagle overhead. I’m not sure how to calibrate this sort of thing.


I live near High Wycombe, and if I look up during the day and don’t see a red kite it’s unusual. Really didn’t expect that when I moved here, and they’re gorgeous creatures.


I’m very lucky to have been diving around south east Asia on some almost immaculate coral reefs. Such a diversity of colourful and vibrant life (and I do love a banded sea kraits @Triangulate). Through work I’ve also seen weird beasties from the deep ocean, and some of common invertebrates just living in coastal mud and sand can be pretty amazing.

But I find some of the greatest pleasure in seeing things unexpectedly when you’re busy doing something else entirely, much like your bald eagle sighting. I don’t just mean rare animals, but also pretty common ones doing unusual things. For example, my desk at work is right next to a window looks out over a small bay, about 500m across. I’ve seen a deer decide to swim across that rather than just walk along the beach. I’ve had a small hawk perch at the top of window and just stare at me, like a reverse zoo. These sort of things capture my sense of ‘nature is awesome’ just as much as the times I’ve seen animals with a wow factor like killer whales or dolphins.


I have a video on my phone of a baby bunny cleaning itself about 1 foot from my backdoor.

And my wife had one sniff her toes last summer while she was reading a book.

We have a slight bunny problem… I filled in about 10 disused bunny burrows last year… and I live in town.

So I agree the mundane can be quite spectacular!


Like others, my most memorable moments with nature are not necessarily seeing impressive or exotic animals.
I’ve never been diving (apart from snorkeling at Corse) and I think while very impressive I’d be a bit scared by the alien world down there (also, exposure to shark movies at an impressionable age has left me with some irrational fears…).
And the most exotic/awesome things I’ve experienced in nature have to be visiting Sequoia National Park and witnessing giant trees there. Despite it being quite crowded it was a very impressive and calming, almost meditative experience, and I could imagine going full John Muir for some time afterwards.

But what is most noteworthy for me is the reappearance of some animals; in the area I’m living (between Rhine and Black Forest) and in Germany/Europe in general. When I was younger, you had to cross the border into France if you wanted to see storks, now they are living atop (public) buildings in a lot of towns and villages here, and we were able to witness a fascinating fight between two males (or rather between a male and a couple since the female seemed to have chosen already) during mating time some weeks ago.
I’ve also been seeing a lot more of nature since we moved out of the “city” and into a nearby village, especially a number of preying birds, including being greeted by a hawk on the town shield upon returning from work.
There have also been sightings of wolves in the black forest recently, which is both exciting and terrifying, and while visiting a game reserve lately I learned that the European Bison was almost extinct some decades ago, and there are now a couple thousand specimens again living in reserves or wildlife. Although due to the small number of surviving specimens that were used to repopulate them (12), the genetic variance is quite low which is a new danger to their surviving.


Here is a tiny translucent garden spider that was crawling over my hand when I was working outside a few days ago.

The ridges it’s crawling past are about 10mm apart at the rim.


I agree that there is something very special about a species returning to where it belongs. In the last few years, the forest near my family home in New Zealand has become a cormorant nesting site. It overlooks a river, so you can kayak up close without disturbing them. In the silence, their white and black plumage against the dark trees lends an air of spooky magic to the place. Then only yesterday I read that the area was called Whakataukawau in the 1820’s. It means ‘the alighting place of cormorants’ and it was believed that ‘the grove exercised a strange influence’ on the birds. My heart literally skipped a beat.

Also as kids, my friend and I once rescued a common octopus stranded in a puddle in the sand on an outgoing tide. We scooped it up in shopping bag (the octopus was about a metre long) and took it out in to the waves up to our waist. We emptied it into the water and then we both looked at each other and imagined eight long tentacles grabbing on to us under the surface and ran like hell. It was a beautiful moment.


This falls into this category a bit… So I am going to share this here!

I am taking a train trip with my wife today. Our destination is only about 175 miles away and we are not going that much farther north than where we currently reside (Mostly East-West travel as opposed to North-South). Here at home, it is expected to reach 85F(29.5C); however, our destination is expecting a high of only 53F(12C)! It is also about the same elevation and we are landlocked, but the destination does have a large lake next to it…

Weather… Always crazy!


Cockchafer,or May Bug:

I’d never met one before, but saw two in the same day on Sunday - one was dead on its back, this one flew into me when I was in the garden after dark.


After a quick google (we do not have these where I live) it appears that one is a bloke!


Fun new nature things!

While driving to work the other day, I saw something that was truly strange. If it were not for the fact that birds do not like to cooperate when getting their photo taken I would have pulled over. I saw one of these fellows!

I honestly could not believe my eyes! It was not as vivid of a yellow as the picture shows, but still not the normal red color you normally see… Amazingly enough, this was very close to where my parents live, so I will tell them to be on the lookout for it and if I get a photo of my own I will post it!

Also, I have these guys… Sadly I was not able to catch the color properly, but when you look at them in person they are a deep purple color. The reason why this is strange is they are directly related to the ones I have in my backyard which I split last year and the backyard group is more of a light blue color… The only thing I figure is these guys get partially shaded during the hottest part of the day by my mailbox…


Personally I’m constantly amazed that carrot seeds turn into carrots. Blows my mind.

My wild life story is a little different. In my uni days, one of the field trips we went on was mapping a small peninsular that hosted a seal colony. So after navigating the signposted seal colony I’m walking along the beach, about to step down a small incline. Then the rock moves, magically turns into a very very large seal, and tells me to go away with less words and more teeth. That was a quick lesson in camouflage and how fast I can run away.


I saw something sad yesterday, I’m sorry if it throws off the topic.

I’ve been trying my best to come to terms with spiders. They give me the willies, but I also know, where I live, they’re an important predatory creature to keep pest insects at bay. So I try to leave them be.

(Good lord, though, whenever I walk through a spiderweb I can’t stop thinking “where the hell is the spider?!? Is it down my collar, in my hair, on my back?!?” and I do a little spazzy spider-slapping “dance,” trying to rub the web off of me and hopefully the potentially imaginary spider, too).

One of the few bioluminescent insects in Florida is delightfully named “the headlight beetle.” That’s because, unlike fireflies, who have light-up flickery butts, they have two spots on their prothorax (heads) that gently glow and fade. They have a distinctive greenish-blue glow, opposed to a firefly’s yellow-to-orange. They’re a type of “click beetle” (when they get flipped on their backs, they snap their front and second section of thorax to right themselves, or they just use it to pop into the air).

The bioluminescent click beetles aren’t generally pests, even if other species can be. Whenever I’ve found them (which can be years apart), I’ve always appreciated their two little headlights gently fading on and off.

I felt conflicted, yesterday night, when I saw that a spider who had built a small web under my eaves had caught a headlight beetle. My first instinct was “rescue it!” and free it with a broom or something.

I noticed, though, its “headlights” weren’t fading off-and-on. They were just “on.”

It was already dead, it just left the lights on before it left the building, so to speak.

So, mixed emotions about a single, tiny, bug.

(I do have to add, where I live on the coast of Florida, that is far from the only bioluminescent organism that lives here, it’s just that most of the others are things like fungi, maybe a few caterpillars and other wormy-things, and phytoplankton in the sea. The fungi are weird, true, not as weird as the still-pretty-weird glow-worms, but believe me, skinny-dipping in the ocean in the middle of the night when the water glows with with every movement you make is an absolutely magical experience, especially with a close friend or three).


It is a bit like the red-tailed hawk who had a squirrel snack across the street in the neighbor’s yard…


Ha! Saw something very similar happen, a three-way confrontation between a cat, squirrel, and an osprey in my neighbor’s well-groomed yard several years ago.

The cat and osprey wanted the squirrel, but they were both eyeing each other as possible snacks/threats. The squirrel was turning back and forth between these two, not quite close enough to the safety of the tree, the osprey was kind of in an alternating half-hover, half-dive thing, and the fluffy white cat (obviously a well fed house cat with more strength and moxie than brains) was trying to figure out which one to eat (it couldn’t run away, it would have to both leave the petrified squirrel behind and show its back to the osprey).

A motorcycle rode by and scared the squirrel back into the tree, which the other two didn’t expect.

The cat went after it and couldn’t climb as fast and fell on its butt (naturally immediately playing it off as if it had meant to do that), and the osprey basically went “f*** this for a lark,” and flew off, probably to catch a lark. (Just kidding, North American horned larks don’t generally get this far south in the US).

Anyway, the whole thing was hilarious for me, but it had to be super-tense for the animals involved. They were truly in a life-or-death standoff. I was rooting for the squirrel, and I think it won that day.

Squirrels don’t always get so lucky. I was driving my grandmother home (later the same year? Like I said, this was years ago) and noticed what looked like a particularly tacky bald-eagle “statue” in a neighbor’s yard. As we drove by, it spread its wings and flew to a nearby banyan tree with a squirrel in its talons (I had to stop the car to see where it went).

I went around later to find there were, indeed a few bald-eagle’s nests in the neighborhood. I always thought they lived much farther north of here.


Update to my earlier post: saw another headlight bug tonight, glowing very brightly, it actually lit up the immediately surrounding area of about a foot or so of shrubbery (it was very dark, I suppose that wasn’t hard to do with my eyes adjusted to the lack of light. It was almost a full moon, but the cloud cover blocked it out entirely). It flew away when I tried to sneak up on it, and it turned off its lights.

So that was cool, it’s the first time I’ve seen more than one during the same year for quite some time, several years in fact.