Happy St. Andrews day!
I had another lovely walk up to work today although my poor wee legs are aching. Walking 3 miles through 2ft of snow is not easy!
I’m enjoying my last morning watching the birds and taking in my last views of the loch. But work calls and my desk is still nowhere near clear!!
Since it’s my last day as an official member of staff on the blog, I’m going to be very cheeky and make the species of the day my favourite 2 animals (yes 2 for the price of 1!). Completely unrelated to Lowes wildlife, but what they going to do, fire me?! 😉
Species of the day: Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis)
Gaelic name: Deilf
“And when the day comes that we can communicate intelligently with dolphins, they may introduce us to the concept of survival without aggression, and the true joy of living, which at present eludes us. In that circumstance what they have to teach us would be infinitely more valuable than anything we could offer them in exchange.”
Globally, short-beaked common dolphins inhabit tropical and warm temperate seas, and prefer deeper waters and shelf regions. In the waters off western Scotland, common dolphins are summer visitors recorded between May and October, when food is most abundant. The species is capable of travelling vast distances in a short time. They can be found in coastal and offshore waters.
The common dolphin has a distinctive creamy yellow hourglass pattern along the sides, with a dark grey back, tail and flippers and a cream coloured belly. The beak is relatively long and slender. Adult common dolphins measure between 1.7 to 2.7 metres long and weigh about 150 kg. Lifespan is about 20 to 30 years. Worldwide, there are currently two species of common dolphins recognised by scientists – short-beaked (Delphinus delphis) and long-beaked (Delphinus capensis). Common dolphins seen in Hebridean waters are short-beaked common dolphins.
In Hebridean waters, common dolphins are usually found in groups of about 10 to 30 individuals, but sometimes in large, active groups of several hundred. Their leaping and splashing can sometimes be seen from several kilometres away, and is often what gives away their presence. They are fast swimmers, reaching speeds in excess of 15 mph. Common dolphins are very acrobatic and can leap clear of the water. Their high-pitched vocalisations can, at times, be heard by humans above the surface of the water. These dolphins are inquisitive and sociable animals and often approach boats to ride the bow wave. Common dolphins with young calves have been observed during summer months in the Hebrides.
The common dolphin has 82 to 108 sharp, pointed teeth on each jaw, and eats a varied diet of squid and fish, such as herring, mackerel and other mid-water schooling fish. Individuals will co-operate to herd fish in order to catch them more easily. They are often seen in association with diving gannets feeding on the same fish. Toothed cetaceans (odontocetes) like common dolphins usually swallow their prey whole, using their teeth to grasp their prey but not to chew it.
The dolphin has a different mate every season. Mating takes place in the fall and a single calf is born 10 months later.
The calf emerges tail first, and, while the mother helps it to the surface to breath, several other females protect them from sharks that may be attracted by the blood lost in birth. The mother suckles her calf underwater, and feeding is quick and frequent so that the calf can surface and breath every few seconds. For the first two weeks of it’s life, the young dolphin stays close to it’s mother or other females. It can swim rapidly at birth, and soon begins to grow teeth which push through it’s gums much like those of a human baby. Still the calf does not become independent for many months.
There has been an apparent increase in common dolphin numbers in the Hebrides in recent years, and ongoing research is important to monitor this trend. Common dolphins are thought to be one of the most abundant cetacean species, with population estimates suggesting that there are several hundred thousand animals globally, yet overall numbers have declined due to a combination of factors. There is evidence that significant numbers of common dolphins are accidentally caught in open sea trawl and drift nets; they seem particularly vulnerable to this threat because they are attracted by the fish inside the nets but do not jump over them to escape. Common dolphins are also subject to the same threats as other cetacean species including the pollution and degradation of the marine environment, injury and disturbance from vessels, and decreasing food resources due to overfishing. Common dolphins are protected under UK and EU law, principally under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 and by the 1992 EU Habitats and Species Directive.
Species of the day 2: Canis lupus familiaris Bella devilish
The Bella is a member of the Canindae family and has her very own sub-species of Bella devilish, due to her rebellious streak and resistence to any form of discipline, not to mention her extreme hyperactivity.
The Bella is an unusual looking canid, having the face of a collie, the hair of a spaniel, the colouration of a staffie and the nature of the devil. This mongrel image gets many comments and questions of interests, and the Bella loves all the attention she can get!
The Bella loves food, with a particular love for chicken and pig, especially pig ears. She has a great passion for chewing bones and sticks, but has been known to chew the occasional remote control, door frame, DVD cases and mummy’s favourite soft toys.
The Bella has an unfathomable amount of endless energy that is almost impossible to burn off. However if the Bella is allowed to run in the snow for at least 1hr, she will sleep for at least 30mins!
The Bella has a great dislike of coming back to anyone or anything (unless you are a deer, rabbit, sheep or another sub-species of the canid family). It is unwise to let her loose in an unenclosed area.
That said, if you possess a toy, particularly of the ball variety, the Bella has your full attention (until one of the above distractions appears) and she will run ALL day until your arm falls off… and then she will play with that.
The Bella is not very coordinated so it is advised to throw any toys away from objects such as walls, fences, doors, tables, chairs, cars, washing poles, bushes, trees, people, streams, rivers, hills etc as she will run into these. The upside to this frantic exercise is the possiblility that the Bella will sleep…for a while.
The Bella has a very strong sense of smell and like to roll in these smells. The smellier the better. This is the best fun and Bella logic thinks this masks her sent so her human doesn’t know where to find her. It is advisable to keep the Bella away from any sort of smelly thing. The Bella does not like baths.
Although the Bella does not like to rest while there is fun to be had, she does like to cuddle up somehwere cosy, usually where her human is, regardless of how uncomfy the human may be. In particular the Bella likes to spend her night-time nap on her humans bed as this is far more comfier than the Bella bed apparently. The Bella also likes a pillow especially if it smells of her human. The best pillow is the one that her humans head is on.
The Bella is a sweet dog, who loves life and is very grateful of any attention especially if it involves treats. Please be aware that the Bella will sit on your lap during your dinner incase you didn’t see her begging on the floor.
In a previous life, the Bella was mistreated by her humans and became very scared of the world. Now her human is her bestest friend in the whole wide world and the Bella is no longer a threatened species, but will live a long, happy life instead.