Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Birding at Dean Shield's House

This morning I joined the Ecology professors and some students from their class for a bird walk at Dean Shield's home. He and his wife have a gorgeous home in Tunbridge, about 20 minutes from the law school. Opportunities like this are what set VLS apart from your average law school. It was a gorgeous morning, and we got a great species list for the day, adding some great birds like green heron, belted kingfisher, a calling great-crested flycatcher, and chimney swifts.
The misty fog burned off pretty quickly
The pretty flowers are called Bladder Campion - Thanks for the ID Peter! 
Gorgeous posing cedar waxwing
Cedar waxwing take 2
Do you see the Baltimore Oriole's hanging basket nest hidden in the branches?

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Very Pertinent Post from a Reader:

Anonymous said...

I can't figure out how to comment onthe 350 badge. I would NEVER post this badge because it features bird killing windmills. I refuse to give any more money to the Sierra Club because they use the figure of this windmill. There are other windmills which do not kill birds. At what cost do we blindly continue our over populated path.
10:12 PM

Blogger Leigh said...

Hi, thanks for sharing. I have huge problems with wind power for precisely that reason. I think many people aren't even aware of how much of an impact wind power projects have on birds. They do kill birds predominately because they're placed on the flight path of migration routes, where wind funnels through passes, etc - places birds travel through for the same reason. There needs to be more emphasis placed on putting wind power projects in place that are designed to protect against those casualties.
Glass has an incredible impact on birds as well though, millions of birds are killed every year for hitting windows during migration, both of houses, and of tall office buildings. At present, very little is being done to make people aware of this deadly effect, and while there are some people working to develop glass that birds can "see" while still being see-through for humans, not nearly enough is being done to market it at a large scale. There are many many problems out there facing birds, wind energy is just one of them, and frankly, I see wind energy as the lesser of two evils because at least it's working to wean us off the use of fossil fuels, which kill many birds as well - the Gulf spill is only one example.

Anyone else have valuable thoughts, comments, information to share? 
P.S. - I know this is a passionate issue for many people, myself included, but please try to restrain yourself from directed anger or ranting, and instead share insights and try to foster a valuable conversation on the issues.

Low-Impact Development Can Have a Huge Impact on Run-Off

Many people don't realize how much runoff from urban and suburban areas impact the water quality of our rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. Here's a link to EPA's site on how low-impact development, and green infrastructure improvements can vastly decrease the impact that non-point sources have on pollution.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

The disaster in the Gulf will have lasting effects on the environment for many years to come. Here is a link to the Official Response site on the Gulf clean-up. The images of oiled birds and turtles have me tossing and turning every night, and new and disturbing aspects of the spill are brought to light daily. Below is a link to a YouTube video made by a birder in the Gulf, which shows some of the unintended negative effects of the response on sensitive species. I think it highlights just how unprepared BP and the agencies were to handle a disaster of this magnitude.

There is an effort to raise awareness and funding for the continued recovery effort. It's important that this be done because the general public has a woefully short attention span for disasters - think Katrina and Haiti. This jeweler has a Gulf collection - it's my understanding that some of the proceeds go towards the clean-up effort.
This link helps to give you a visual understanding of the size of area the spill encompasses. Pretty frightening in these terms.