Natural Curiosities and top ten animals

By Dave Armstrong - 18 Feb 2014 7:45:0 GMT
Natural Curiosities and top ten animals

The nightjar is a relative of the owl that is really worth looking for. Few people are seeing this species because of its secretive habits, however; Nightjar image; Credit: © Shutterstock

The emperor penguin and the wood frog (that's the American species, Lithobates sylvaticus , are uncovered in a new TV series as vertebrates that can survive extreme cold. Useful in these days of extreme climates. Then, rhinos and hedgehogs are typically classified as "armoured animals." This is the Attenborough trademark, as in "Life on Earth" right through the decades to "Life in the Undergrowth" (invertebrates.)

David Attenborough has another guaranteed winner on his hands with "Natural Curiosities". It's a series, just about to start, on those rare and unusual species that intrigue, as well as the relatively common creatures that people see in the countryside. It seems that they grabbed our Earth Times thunder, as they also feature relatively common animals that people don't see in cities or in daylight. The complete range of ten common species found in the UK is, in order:

nightjar, pine marten, golden eagle, stoat and weasel (only two species in UK), otter, cuckoo, slow worm, adder, raven and kingfisher.

The series interest ranges from hedgehog and badger to beaver and other less "elusive" creatures. The fact that people walk about much less in recent decades contributes to the lack of sightings for most urbanites.

Each of those top ten are given percentages. This indicates the number of respondents who have seen each "curious and interesting species," excepting the marten, which in Britain is rare, arboreal, and almost never seen. For example, 75% have seen a hedgehog. At the other end of the scale is the nightjar which has been seen by only 4% of the population, and, better, a 34% for the kingfisher. It makes me consider that the blue flash of a wing is perhaps all some people have seen of the beautiful Alcedo atthis or common Eurasian kingfisher.

Extinction is another curiously-accepted fact by many of those questioned in this survey, even when the species is quite common, as in the case of the golden eagle or the red squirrel. The relief of environmentalists can be heard when 74% of the 2000 sampled "express concern" over lack of interest in wildlife in general. Most of those believe the government needs to undertake greater conservation effort.

Whatever those in power think, it seems we have to listen to people's obvious green inclinations. Especially when given the threats to people and wildlife by current and future global warming events! Another UK-based story on the conservation of slightly smaller creatures is to be read here as The bees and the butterflies are missing.