Main

January 4, 2011

Dead Red-Wings

Hi,

Well, this is what a red-wing looks like when it's alive...

400_ 08-11-07 red wing.JPG

As you're reading this, odds are that you already know of the significant "die off" of blackbirds in Arkansas... But that's not the entire story... Check out the following from AFP:

The second unexplained mass bird death within a week has been discovered in the southern United States, this time in the state of Louisiana, officials said Tuesday.

The latest incident affected some 500 birds which were discovered dead in Pointe Coupee Parish, said Olivia Watkins of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Watkins said an investigation was underway into the cause of the deaths, which occurred just a few days after thousands of birds were discovered dead in neighboring Arkansas.

"We sent samples to a lab in Missouri and are waiting to get some results," she said.

Nancy Ledbetter at the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission said officials in that state were awaiting test results to find the cause of death of as many as 5,000 blackbirds in the small town of Beebe as well as deaths of 80,000 to 100,000 fish found floating in the Arkansas River about 160 kilometers (100 miles) away.

That's not good. Regardless of whether each case is related to the others or not, that's still not good. While I don't believe in UFOs or other foolishness, I do believe in "nature talking"... I say that we keep a close eye on this one...

Antsy by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

Live eBirdseed.com streaming cam

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

Bookmark and Share

December 17, 2010

N.E. Nor'easter Storm Possible? Yes But...

Hi,

Let this be a simple reminder for everyone who doesn't live on the moon... Winter is coming, and you should be prepared. For those on the east coast, get ready for a Sunday/Monday blow that probably won't happen. (See: Nor'easter Threat? Doubtful...For Most.) Still, a monster like the one below is just a "matter of time" away...

Jan 2010 noreaster_2010-12-17_024853.jpg

So in keeping with our tradition of keeping you updated on the preparations for the possible hurricane, twister, dam break, blizzard, terrorist attack, etc., here are three links you really should check out: Ready.gov, the Ready.gov kit, and our old faithful - the Cape Cod Emergency Preparedness Handbook. (And while you're at it, it might be wise to lay in a little extra for the birds just in case. We vacuum pack some just to keep it fresh and at the ready.)

Let's see... What else? The birds have been steadily active, though skittish. We're not sure what that's about, but it could be the weather... The word search contest is wrapping up - better hurry! ... Oh! We ordered the new Logitech 9000 web cam (and 32' active USB extension cable) today and should have it by Monday. Expect almost relentless torment in the form of video and geek updates. Seriously, if I can get this thing working the way I think I can, you're going to be blown away.

That should just about do it for now...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

Bookmark and Share

June 24, 2010

Oil Disaster and Bird Seed...

Hi all,

We've talked quite a bit about this oil disaster (as well we should have and should continue to do so), but I thought I'd first relate it back to you, the backyard birder. Do you remember when gas was $4.00/gal just a few years ago? Back then, at the behest of the owner of eBirdseed.com, I wrote a quick post on the ultimate effect that that price increase (and the ever-changing dietary habits of Americans) would have upon you, the purchaser of seed. Well, yesterday, I heard an industry expert on Fox News warning that gas could be back up to $4.00/gal by the end of the summer. Oh goody... Right now, I'm looking into the possibility of savings through bulk purchase, etc... Will keep you posted...

Other thoughts, (CCA's and CCA's alone...) What follows needs adult supervision!

  • Part of the reason I didn't want to dig into the gory details of this oil spill earlier is because... well... the details are excruciatingly gory...
  • Be prepared to cry...
  • Very rough tally on day 66...
The bird numbers just go on and on... But something I've been trying to gently introduce is that this disaster easily has the potential to become a mega-disaster on a human scale. Just as an oil spill can ripple into the seed market, shutting down 1/3 of the American seafood industry would most likely deal a death blow to an already teetering national economy. (See: "The Next Economic Disaster", ""Financial Speech for the Ages"", and most ominous... "Societe Generale and Global Collapse")

Yup, if nothing else, America is already in wildly deep economic trouble. (If you aren't mainlining heroin yet, take a long look at this clock (be patient - this site is getting hammered) and note the bottom row in red and the right-side column in debt/GDP ratio.) Bluntly, the world markets are already in crisis... To seriously cripple both the U.S. fishing industry and the oil industry would be catastrophic on a global scale. (Here's a U.N. chart that should give just a hint of the horror should we really trash our semi-functional economy. And as America's economy goes, so goes the world's.)

Obviously, we face a two-horned demon... We must get off oil, but in a controlled manner. And we must put down this environmental Beelzebub... To fail at either (let alone both) is to face a Great Depression on a global scale.

The adult video below is telling...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
An Energy-Independent Future
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

One of the lines reads... "We are an unstoppable oil-dependency-breaking machine... unfortunately the machine runs on oil..."

There perhaps is your answer... "The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves..."

Cross your fingers and see you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam P.S. What is that circled Red Cardinal pic on the bottom right of the eBirdseed home page? Inquiring minds... (I've got to do something to lighten this post up just a bit...)

Bookmark and Share

June 23, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill... Yet Another Update

Hi all,

So here we are...

Look, I truly don't know what to write... Best estimates on bird kills, oil spilled in gals/day, long-term ecological effect, short- and long-term economical effect, human health issues, oxygen depletion??? I have no clue. No one does. We're officially in the Twilight Zone now. What the bleep, send in the UFOs.

Look, I've struggled over this post for two days. I've tried to find upbeat, yet realistic ways to say the following... Speaking as an engineer, we may be in deep trouble. Don't hit the "Panic Button" yet, but warm up the hands. If the Federal Government doesn't unload a serious can of "whoop tush" on this disaster pronto, we may end up demolishing 1/3 of the American seafood economy from now until the 12th of Never. (And yes, someone has a solution... Enter General Honore...)

No more words for now... More to follow.

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share

June 11, 2010

Cape Cod Wind Farm, and Crow with Pretzel Ticks Off Mrs. CCA

Hi all,

First things first... Cape Wind (the recently-approved 130 wind turbine farm destined for Cape Cod's Nantucket Sound) is trying to gain your support in order to secure the National Grid/Cape Wind long-term power purchase contract... No, a wind farm isn't the complete solution, but it is at least a small step in the right direction...

If the events of the last 53 days have shown anything, it's that we've got to do something. (Now, the engineers are guesstimating that that "spill" is spewing the equivalent of one "Exxon Valdez" every 5 - 12 days... You do the math.) We need this. And we need you! So please, regardless of where you live, if your conscience so dictates, please click here (or above) and have your voice heard. And yes, I've been writing about this for some time now. (Keep scrolling down to see all posts about this.)

Now about that crow and ticking off the wife... See that beak full of pretzel in the shot below?

crow_pretzel_birdbath_resized_101_0422.JPG

Well, here's the skinny... Mrs. CCA has a sort of idiosyncrasy when it comes to the bird baths. She likes to keep them clean, as we all should. But that task is made a bit troublesome as the crows like to wash their food, and sometimes leave floating scraps. Enter her pet peeve. Every time she looks out and sees a crow littering her bird bath, the air turns blue. (It's sort of a love/hate/fun kind of relationship she has with the crows... Think Darren McGavin as "The Old Man" fighting his furnace in the movie "A Christmas Story"...

[after the furnace conks out]
The Old Man: It's a clinker! That blasted stupid furnace dadgummit!
[he walks down a few stairs and falls the rest of the way down]
The Old Man: Damn skates!
[coughing]
The Old Man: Oh, for cripes sake, open up the damper will ya? Who the hell turned it all the way down? AGAIN! Oh, blast it!
Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan. Borrowed from - IMDB
Obviously, Mrs. CCA doesn't weave a "tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan", but I'm fairly confident that a few of her cusses made it as far as the mud hole just across the street.

Well... I guess I'm in enough trouble now, so I'll just sign off... Please don't forget Cape Wind...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share

June 5, 2010

More Oil Spill Info, Red Tailed Hawk, and Woodpecker Nest

Well,

This is what it looks like...

Oily bird with eye_resized_2010-06-05_034405.jpg

And here's the projected path of this stuff. (Please forgive the poor graphics... You should get the idea though...)

My over-priced $.02? Don't buy into the politics of this disaster... The liberals are going to blame Bush for drilling for oil even though President Obama signed a bill to expand off-shore drilling just before this disaster happened. The conservatives on the other hand, are going to trumpet the fact that the Administration was slow to act, and quick to pass oil rig inspections. And so the two agenda-blind camps will bicker to achieve selfish political leverage rather than actually act. Here's the skinny... For the most part, our elected officials are nothing more than greedy power mongers. BP is a lying pack of boorish corporate thugs. And who gets caught in the middle? The little people like you and me and the folks in the Gulf, and especially the little things like that bird above... that's who gets caught in the middle. I don't know... Maybe we're simply reaping what we've sown. Maybe if we spent the last 40 years focusing on conservation, developing alternative energy, recycling, engineering... maybe things would be different. But instead, we were preoccupied with more important things like "CB radios", disco, muscle cars, "Dallas", grunge and rap, and Lady Gaga. Maybe this entire environmental disaster is simply the result of a spoiled-brat social experiment reaching its rotten conclusion just as surely as it vomited out our politicians and our corporations.

Onward...

We had a magnificent red tailed hawk swoop through our feeders yesterday (with crows in hot pursuit). Thank heavens for the crows... If they weren't there to protect the feeders, our smaller birds would be toast.

And finally, we have a nest of downys on the edge of our property... (Once again, sorry for the poor image... Hopefully your imagination will carry the day.)

Downey in hole_resized_101_0383.JPG

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. I apologize for the harsh, stuttering nature of this post. But all things considered, the rhythm seems appropriate.


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share

June 3, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill in Perspective and Crow Behavior

Hi all,

OK, so here's where we stand right now relative to other oil spills:

oil spill in perspective_resized_2010-06-02_230117.jpg

As for wetlands and other beautiful and valuable resources... I'm not sure how those factors weigh in the chart above... (However, that chart may offer one glimmer of hope... In the case of the massive Ixtoc 1 Mexican spill, the long-term effects weren't as bad as we thought they might have been. True, in the case of the BP spill, livelihoods will be lost, wildlife will be ravaged, and untold havoc will endure... But maybe, just maybe, the environment can at least survive and rebound in our lifetimes. (Though I still fear the worst for the wetlands.))

Now... About those ever wacky crows...

  • It was indeed a crow that actually scratched our front door a couple days ago. I kid you not - that is just creepy.
  • We've noticed that when there is an excess of food, occasionally the crows will take all of it, and promptly bury most of it. Is this a defensive mechanism for depriving other creatures like the gulls? Probably.
  • Crows definitely use "lookouts". One or more crow(s) will sit on an overhanging branch by the feeder and watch the area. It will not eat, but will instead fly away with the rest of the murder even if that means leaving food behind. That suggests sharing within the murder.
  • It's interesting to watch how the lookout signals the others that it's okay to head for the feeder... Crow head nodding in the vertical seems to mean "Yes", or "Good". Sort of reminds me of the birds' reaction when I put out food for them.
  • Crows know both the wife and me. Just walking by the kitchen window can stir quite the commotion. Oh goody.
  • There seems to be a gang mentality between murders. One lone crow was mobbed and chased off... I can only assume that he tried to raid the wrong "turf".
  • Finally, at this point, it seems that crows can learn by watching other crows solve problems. Is it possible that they can learn by watching people solve problems? Have the crows learned that the way to access Mrs. CCA and I is through the front door by watching humans use that technique?

Freaked by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share

June 1, 2010

Oil Spill and Spooky Crow

Hi all,

Deep sigh... Have to discuss that Gulf oil spill again... Let's see where we stand right now 6/1/10 (Obviously these numbers are apx. and probably underestimated):

Today, they're cutting off the riser and that will raise the flow rate by 20% according to U.S. officials. If the replacement dome works (and many are skeptical that it will), we'll have to see where we stand. But if it doesn't work, we're looking at a total of roughly 66,000,000 gallons by the end of August. And even the end-of-summer relief well may not work. What's worse, not only are we are spraying toxic dispersants, but we're also pumping them into the untested environment of 2,000 psi (pressure at 5,000'). Toss in a major storm, and we have a big fat question mark...

Unfortunately, there is a phrase that no one wants to utter about the affected areas - "Dead Zone". That is to say that we may simply have to write off much of the Gulf and the coastal regions of four states. It wouldn't be the first time. Let's just hope for the best...

On to happier news... Hope you had a pleasant and reflective Memorial Day. Over the weekend, I put out some sausage for the crows...

crow with sausageresized on memorial day.JPG

Great photo... But that leads us to our "Creepy Dept."

Just a few moments ago, I heard a "thump" by the front door. I wasn't expecting anyone, but a "thump" it was for sure. When I opened the shade, there sat a crow on the railing. He flew up into the tree and glared. I went back to the keyboard and raised my hands to type. "Thump"... Same bird, same story. So, I put out some old bread. Situation over, right? Just now, ""Thump" yet again.. Suffice it to say, that we're wigged out... I have to go... "someone" is literally scratching at the front door.

See you by the feeders, maybe...

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share

May 27, 2010

Memorial Day, Oil Update, Fisher Sighting, Woodworking Cont., etc.

Hi all,

First off, respect and thanks go out to all veterans! A tip of the hat to the mottos and core values...

USCG
"Semper Paratus" ("Always Ready")

USAF
"Integrity First
Service Before Self
Excellence in All We Do"

USMC
"Semper Fidelis" ("Always Faithful)"

U.S. Army
"This We'll Defend"

USN
"Honor, Courage, Commitment"

(I wrote a piece on Memorial Day here.)

Back to less noble things... Well, the news is in about the Gulf, and it ain't good... BP's estimate of the leak was 5,000 barrels of oil/day. Now the USGS is putting the estimate at between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels/day. That equates to somewhere between 500,000 gal/day (for a total of 18 million gal) and 800,000 gal/day (for a total of 30 million gal). Compare those numbers with the 11 million gal from the Exxon Valdez and the blood runs cold. To make matters even worse, we don't know exactly what the dispersants are doing and the effects of introducing them at such depths. Who knows where that mess is going to show up? Lastly, we find out that the dispersant itself (all 700,000+ gallons of the stuff) is toxic to humans. Once this toxic cocktail gets into swamps and wetlands... look out. I did manage to find another source (Department of the Interior) that you can try if you want to help:

  • Volunteer: 1-866-448-5816.
  • Report oiled wildlife: 1-866-557-1401. Messages checked hourly.
  • Report oiled shoreline: 1-866-448-5816
  • Report spill related damage: 1-800-440-0858.
  • Submit alternative response technology, services or products: 1-281-366-5511 or horizonsupport@oegllc.com
  • Submit your vessel as a vessel of opportunity skimming system: 1-281-366-5511
  • File a claim for damage.

Onward... Well, the wife saw our first fisher cat a couple of days ago...

Fisher from Wikipedia.JPG

She'll write a post on that later.

Next! More woodworking for the backyard birder... So far we've got:

Alright then... It's almost time to make sawdust! This lesson is easy. Go to your local lumberyard, put on some gloves, and buy a bunch of cheap strapping (a.k.a. "1x3") and whatever bargain bin stuff you can find. And don't be afraid to ask the yard man if they have free scrap wood. Now take it home, break out a flashlight and study it. Study its end and face grains and note how the pieces warp, curve, cup, split. See if you can find a pattern. How were the boards cut at the sawmill? Refer to your books or to here. So much of your success working with wood is going to hinge on understanding how it moves...

'Til next time, see you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. The old NovaBird motion-activated camera is "circling the drain". After three years and 10,000+ pics, the little trooper is starting to fail big time. More on that next time.


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share

May 25, 2010

Oil Update

Bird in oil resized_2010-05-25_152516.jpg To be clear, I did not take the photo above. The caption reads:

(A young heron sits dying amidst oil splattering underneath mangrove on an island impacted by oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Barataria Bay, along the the coast of Louisiana on Sunday, May 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert))

Well gang, in a way, the photo above speaks volumes. (You can see the complete collection here: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/05/oil_reaches_louisiana_shores.html#photo5). But in another way much has gone unspoken. Thoughts...

  • The oil spill is now the size of Maryland and Delaware combined..
  • The gusher 5,000' down just started spewing a much heavier, darker oil. (Check out the BP spill cam.)
  • The dispersant being used, "Corexit" looks to be toxic. What's more, Corexit works by breaking the oil up (not removing it), and allowing it to sink. The idea is that the process will make the oil more biodegradable... But there is one problem... BP is applying the dispersant right at the source... Who knows just how biodegradable this goo will be in the blackness and cold of a mile deep?
  • Now there are rumors that something very, very bad is happening around the blowout preventer.
  • The White House is playing a cute game. On the one hand, EPA chief Carol Browner says that "We're In charge". On the other hand, the President's spokesman has made it abundantly clear that the operation is BP's "responsibility". If today's "top kill" stops the flow and a successful cleanup follows, the Administration is a hero. On the other hand, if that fails and the flow goes unabated until a relief well is completed at the end of the summer, it's all BP's fault... Cute. The simple fact is that as soon as we understood the magnitude of this horror, we should have applied the full force of the American military guided by the appropriate engineers. Our complete military effort could have brought to bear:
    • command and control
    • communication
    • raw man power
    • transportation
    • maintenance
    • on site 24/7 food and medical care
    The list goes on and on...

  • Few dare to ponder the worst-case scenario - the world's most damaging oil spill, unchecked in one of the world's most delicate ecosystems smack dab in the start of hurricane season. In the worst case, we may be talking about the Exxon Valdez times 10, 100... This could easily turn into a global ecological and financial disaster in a world that really doesn't need any more disasters.
I'm sorry to keep hammering at this, but I believe it's that important. If Lady Luck looks the other way, much of the Eastern Seaboard may soon be rendered impotent. We may well be facing a catastrophe the likes of which this Republic has never seen.

Holding my breath by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share

May 23, 2010

The Gulf and a Green Heron

Hi all,

First off, please understand that what I write here is my (CapeCodAlan's) opinion, and not that of eBirdseed.com.

There are two reasons that I keep writing about this oil spill. The second is because of the unknown and probably immeasurable carnage this will bring to our wetlands, and to birds in particular. That reason is obvious. But the first reason I keep returning to this disaster is what it could mean to this country.

Here's the deal... The government isn't telling you straight up what our national debt is... (The politicians are a clever lot - they keep three sets of books: one for the dreaded debt/surplus which hovers around $12 - $14 trillion in the red), another for emergency funds (kiss that puppy goodbye), and one for our "obligations" like pensions, social security, medicare and medicaid. Let's see... The pensions/social security is already broke... But it's the medicare/medicaid that's the 800 lb gorilla in the room. Right now, that's beached at at least $60 trillion. (Please read: "The Tragic Birth and Impecunious Demise of the Greatest Generation". Be afraid.) The long and the short is that we simply can't afford a mind-bending cataclysm like the Gulf oil spill. We're already borrowing money to pay for the interest on the money we've borrowed earlier. The last thing we need is 6,000,000 gallons of oil loose around the Gulf, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama. (Keep in mind I'm using six million as the amount right now... That's a best-case scenario. The amount may be ten times that much for just one month. The worst-case scenario would be 60,000,000/month for four months - a total of 240,000,000 gallons or 20 Exxon Valdez.)

For the life of me, I don't understand why President Obama fails to call this a national emergency (on both the economic and environmental fronts), and bring in the military to supervise and aid.

Anyway, we can't spend all our time on the Gulf. Suffice it to say that one way or the other that mess is going to affect you. Deep sigh...

The photo below is that of a Green Heron. Yeah, I know it isn't very good, and Mrs. CCA made a game effort at getting some video of the bird, but it wasn't meant to be. At least the shape might look familiar...

green heron cropped and resized_05-22-10.jpg

I'm sorry gang, but my heart just ain't in it tonight... Read this... CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share

May 20, 2010

Still More on the Oil Spill

Hi all,

And the beat goes on...

In a previous post , I wrote the following:

He's letting BP run the oil-stoppage show... I say that the president should bring General Russel "The Ragin' Cajun" Honorè out of retirement and put him in charge. (Do you remember that general who told a reporter not to "get stuck on stupid!" Yeah, that general.) Oh, we'll keep all the BP techies, but you can bet your bottom dollar that some of their bottoms would be wearing his boot print.

In a response, one of our most faithful readers (Harry "Gipper" Morris) replied:

You're being too kind. I would shut down ALL off-shore drilling operations. Then tell those folks, If they ever want to open again, they are going to have to help clean up the disaster and find absolute safety solutions to prevent this from happening again. I would hope that it will become more financially economical to find alternative means of energy in harmony with "Mother Nature". I have no mercy on these folks nor do they have any mercy on the impact of our fisheries and other marine life that is going to be wiped out.

I move our Government shut down all off-shore drilling immediately, freeze all pending applications, and for sure do not allow any future off-shore drilling anywhere.

I hear you Harry, oh how I hear you... But here's the problem as I see it... Unfortunately, I don't think a total ban will work. My $.02 worth? A move like that would drive the on-shore environmentalists into a frenzy. My guess is that they too would insist in a complete stoppage. That would be disastrous in that we derive 43% of our oil use from domestic product. What's more, oil (both domestic and foreign) accounts for about 30% of all our energy usage. The simple, sad fact is that we need oil, and will need it until at least 2050. No doubt, the oil will be there.

My gripe has to do with lack of preparation and lack of foresight. Speaking as an engineer, this is unforgivable... It's the fact that there are so many unknowns that drives me crazy. There are roughly 4,000 oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico...

map of oil rigs_resized_2010-05-20_180656.jpg

And the engineers and management didn't see a freak disaster like this coming??? Unbelievable...

Still disgusted by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share

May 18, 2010

How to Help the Gulf Birds

Hi all,

Dori asked,

How and where do you think we could start volunteering to help the clean up in order to try to prevent the slaughter of the animals involved in this? I would gladly volunteer some help if I knew where to contact. What organizations would you recommend we contact? Surely, there are enough Americans who are interested in helping that we could get something meaningful done.

First, thanks for your question... It truly is a shame that it has to be posted under these circumstances... I would look at TBO (Tampa Bay Online). Also, Popular Mechanics would be a great resource... One of the things I've noticed is that this is a slow moving disaster. It may take years or even decades to find out the severity of this catastrophe. Another issue that seems to keep coming up as organizations call for help is a strong desire for folks trained in bird rescue. Once again, the links above would make a good starting point as well as the Cornell links below.

One last thought... Today, the BP chief executive Tony Hayward had this to say about the spill...

This is from the same CEO who called this mess "relatively tiny". Too bad 19% of all fishing areas are now shut down.

Oh to be king of the world for just a day... I'd strap Mr. Hayward to a surf board and drag him the 100 mile length of the monster and then see if he still calls it "relatively tiny".

Angry by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share

May 17, 2010

Oil Spill and We Have Hummingbirds

Hi all,

Sorry to keep dwelling on the Gulf oil spill, but it certainly deserves our attention...

I guess there's a crumb of good news and a bakery of bad. The good news is that it looks like BP has at least managed to attach a siphon hose to one of the leaks. That hose will supposedly drain off about 20% of the gushing oil. That would amount to a reduction from 200,000 gallons/day to 160,000 gallons/day. The really horrific news is that scientists and engineers may have grossly underestimated the rupture flow rate by a factor of 5. If that's true, BP et al are draining off 40,000 gallons/day and yet 960,000 gals/day just keep boiling out... Time for a bit more math... Being "optimistic" (200,000 gallons/day) it's been 28 days which equates to 5,600,000 gallons; being perhaps more realistic, 28,000,000 gals of oil have been flooding into the Gulf. To put that into perspective, the Exxon Valdez "only" spilled 11,000,000 gallons.

Look... maybe the dispersant will break this thing up. Maybe everything will be fine... But speaking as an engineer and a guy who's been on the water a few times, I ain't got the warm and fuzzies. I can't explain why I feel this way, but I do... I think the oil has gone deep or into solution. My gut says that we're treating this as a wave-top problem when in fact it's a seafloor to whitecap disaster. I hope I'm wrong... I hope this isn't going to be the bird catastrophe I think it's shaping up to be... And just one other thing... What in the name of all things good and Holy is President Obama doing??? He's letting BP run the oil-stoppage show... I say that the president should bring General Russel "The Ragin' Cajun" Honorè out of retirement and put him in charge. (Do you remember that general who told a reporter not to "get stuck on stupid!" Yeah, that general.) Oh, we'll keep all the BP techies, but you can bet your bottom dollar that some of their bottoms would be wearing his boot print.

Onward...

About that hummingbird picture...

First 2010 hummer_resized_2010-05-16_235930.jpg

Not bad... Not bad at all... First for the season...

See you by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. O.K. A dumb question about that oil rig pipe (and I'm just the guy to ask it...) Now that we have the siphon hose/pipe in place, why can't we secure it (my guess is that it already is pretty secure given the pressures involved) and then slide a collar down around the siphon hose and use that to further "stopper" the broken pipe?


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share

May 13, 2010

More on the Oil Spill and Wind Power Politics

Hi all,

Well, here it is in all its gory splendor... This is what it takes to produce 200,000 gals of "oil spill" per day...

The final impact on wildlife including birds is not just unimaginable, but unknown as well... Even if by some miracle, BP and the government can "contain" and disperse this horror show, who knows what long-term effects this almost instantaneous and concentrated deluge of oil will have on the ecosystem. If it doesn't reach the beaches en masse, the shellfish are definitely going to take a hit, and the shore birds do like to eat shellfish.

On a sad, but related note, the twin wind turbine project here in Harwich was shot down in the latest Town Meeting. Particularly pathetic was the way it was put to bed... A community organizer loaded the meeting with anti-wind people who berated the project, and then basically muzzled the pro-wind people from even speaking. Don't get me wrong... The folks against the project have every right to organize... But since the meeting was being broadcast, the rest of the town never got to hear the other side of the story. And that was all she wrote. I wrote a piece for Bruce Gibson, a local businessman who's pro-wind and a former Selectman who's running for the position once again. (Please see: "Pro-Wind Words Silenced and Political Hypocrisy" and be sure to check out the videos...)

No matter where you stand on this issue, I ask that you consider just three things...

  • Take another look at that oil gushing out of that pipe above just one more time... What kind of carnage do you think that is going to do to the birds? I'll bet it's going to be a lot worse than the occasional bird hitting a wind turbine blade...
  • I did some research, and as far as I can tell, from 1975 to 2001, only 37 people have been killed globally in wind-related accidents, and those were almost always construction accidents... (One first-time parachutist landed in the blades, and another poor soul decided that the tower was a good place to hang himself...) Last month two mine accidents and an oil rig explosion took 40 lives, and that was just in the U.S.
  • The energy situation is not going to be status quo too much longer... Given Iran's and Venezuela's ambitions alone, what do you think our energy situation will look like in 10 or even just 5 years?
I don't know... I really don't have all the answers... But one thing is crystal clear - we'd better start moving in a new direction, even if it is just a path of baby steps like a couple of lousy wind turbines that would pay for 75% of Harwich's municipal power costs.

You know... For the first time in my life, I'm ashamed of my town. IMHO we ought to rename this village, "NIMBY MA."

Disgusted by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: Inside Birding

Cornell Ornithology Laboratory: All About Birding

eBirdseed.com photo library

eBirdseed and misc. references

Other birding references

eBirdseed.com bird cam

Bookmark and Share