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Features (Creature Feature)

Animal mystery in the English countryside

      A CNN headline last week roped us in: Raccoon Dogs on the Loose in an English Village. People were told to be on the lookout for these dangerous creatures.

     A Daily Mail story warned that the raccoon dogs “terrorize locals and attack animals in Nottinghamshire.”

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These birds like to announce their presence 

 

      Belted kingfishers are common along Maryland’s waterways. But each has a large hunting territory so they are spread out. They seem to fight constantly over space and don’t tolerate one another. They also don’t tolerate people and can be heard screaming what sound like bird obscenities as they fly from human approaches....

You’ll know this tern by its red-tipped bill and feet
     Here’s another tern to look sharp for in Chesapeake Country.
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One of Mother Nature’s wilder whims

       At North Point State Park looking for little blue herons, I was distracted by a female cardinal looking for insects in a nearby tree. Cardinals are generally seed-eaters but tend to look for insects when they have nestlings, so I thought she might lead me to her nest. Instead, when she was about 10 feet away, she grabbed a bright green beetle but immediately dropped it.

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A doting mother

      A family of foxes at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Sanctuary in Kent County, Delaware, had a series of tragedies four years ago. Two kits disappeared one by one, leaving a young male. The mother fox, called a vixen, became extremely protective. For several weeks the two were always together. She was frequently seen herding him to stay close to the den and grooming him.
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Population highest since 2012

      Callinectes sapidus, our beautiful swimmers, seem to be thriving on moderate winters in a healthier Bay. The Chesapeake is full of more crabs than in any year since 2012, according to winter’s annual whole-Bay census, taken by the University of Maryland Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and the Virginia Institute of Marine Biology.

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As babies, you wouldn’t know them
      Some say that the parents of juvenile little blue herons are lazy. Others think they are being smart to keep their young safe with other-species babysitters. You decide.
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Among terns, these regional rarities are the opposite of least 
      Over the past week, migrating Caspian terns have been flying around the Chesapeake Bay. These are the world’s largest tern. They have a 57-inch wingspan, making them larger than a ring-billed gull. The smallest tern, the least tern, has a mere 20-inch wingspan.
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Take a look at two of our neighbor snakes 

As the ground warms, hibernating animals start waking up. This past weekend, northern watersnakes and eastern garter snakes were rousing. I found several as I walked through a park in Baltimore County. Both are very common throughout Maryland and are non-venomous.
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African cat making its way north

      We’ll call this Rocky’s excellent adventure.

      An exotic serval cat that disappeared from Kitty Hawk, N.C., in October was spotted last week in Virginia Beach, 85 miles north, after probably existing for six months on shorebirds and rodents.

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