Archive for the ‘nuts’ Category

Why Are Squirrels Going Nuts? No Acorns

November 30, 2008

The idea seemed too crazy to Rod Simmons, a measured, careful field botanist. Naturalists in Arlington County couldn’t find any acorns. None. No hickory nuts, either. Then he went out to look for himself. He came up with nothing. Nothing crunched underfoot. Nothing hit him on the head.

Then calls started coming in about crazy squirrels. Starving, skinny squirrels eating garbage, inhaling bird feed, greedily demolishing pumpkins. Squirrels boldly scampering into the road. And a lot more calls about squirrel roadkill.

But Simmons really got spooked when he was teaching a class on identifying oak and hickory trees late last month. For 2 1/2 miles, Simmons and other naturalists hiked through Northern Virginia oak and hickory forests. They sifted through leaves on the ground, dug in the dirt and peered into the tree canopies. Nothing. 

By Brigid Schulte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 30, 2008; Page A01

Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis

“I’m used to seeing so many acorns around and out in the field, it’s something I just didn’t believe,” he said. “But this is not just not a good year for oaks. It’s a zero year. There’s zero production. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

The absence of acorns could have something to do with the weather, Simmons thought. But he hoped it wasn’t a climatic event. “Let’s hope it’s not something ghastly going on with the natural world.”

To find out, Simmons and Arlington naturalists began calling around. A naturalist in Maryland found no acorns on an Audubon nature walk there. Ditto for Fairfax, Falls Church, Charles County, even as far away as Pennsylvania. There are no acorns falling from the majestic oaks in Arlington National Cemetery.

“Once I started paying attention, I couldn’t find any acorns anywhere. Not from white oaks, red oaks or black oaks, and this was supposed to be their big year,” said Greg Zell, a naturalist at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington. “We’re talking zero. Not a single acorn. It’s really bizarre.”

Zell began to do some research. He found Internet discussion groups, including one on Topix called “No acorns this year,” reporting the same thing from as far away as the Midwest up through New England and Nova Scotia. “We live in Glenwood Landing, N.Y., and don’t have any acorns this year. Really weird,” wrote one. “None in Kansas either! Curiouser and curiouser.”

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Vietnam: Exports Slow In Apparent World-Wide Recession

March 15, 2008

(Reauters) HANOI, March 15 – Vietnam’s trade deficit in the first three months of this year is forecast to rise 67 percent from a year ago to $7.5 billion, while exports are slowing due to a weak U.S. dollar and rising costs, a state-run newspaper said on Saturday.

Exports in the first quarter would grow 23.7 percent from a year earlier to $13.2 billion, slowing from a 29.2 percent rise in the first two months from a year ago, Pham The Dung, a manager at the Industry and Trade Ministry was quoted by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee-run Liberation Saigon daily as saying.

Boats are seen on Tra Khuc River in Quang Ngai Province, a central ...
Boats are seen on Tra Khuc River in Quang Ngai Province, a central part of Vietnam, Saturday, March 15, 2008.(AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)

Excluding crude oil, Vietnam’s top export item, exports would only rise 15 percent in the first three months, Dung, who heads the ministry’s Export and Import Department, told a ministry meeting with exporters in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday.

The widening trade gap “shows a government request to boost exports by 25 percent to around $60.7 billion would be achieved with difficulty”, the report quoted officials as saying at the meeting.

The Industry and Trade Ministry has raised its forecast for Vietnam’s annual trade deficit to $20 billion from $16.97 billion earlier projected. Last year, the gap more than doubled to $12.4 billion as imports jumped 35.5 percent to a record $60.8 billon.

A sampan is seen sailing near the container port in Ho Chi Minh ... 

Representatives from the cashew, seafood and plastics sectors said at the Friday meeting that the weak dollar coupled with rising production costs will disrupt production while the government tightens money supply to rein in inflation.

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