Archive for May, 2006

An Inconvieniant Truth

May 31, 2006

Al Gore's movie on global warming is very good. It got real great reviews in many prestigeous papers and on many web sites. The movie is playing in Maryland, at the Bethesda Landamrk on Woodmont Street, in the "Chi Chi" district of Bethesda.

If you have questions about global warming and its potential geo-political impacts, or if you want to see good graphics, go see this documentary. If you do not like Al Gore, see it anyway. He knows a lot about global warming but the issue is so much bigger than Gore is!

The movie plays at cultural theatres in all major metro areas. Just check your paper's movie section. It will be there.

Matt

Global Warming In USA Today

May 30, 2006

The front page of the, Tuesday May 30, USA Today is about Global Warming.

An article by Elizabeth Weise called: Alaska the "Poster State" for climatic concerns, tells about changes that will occer in Alaska first, then we will have the same changes down in this portion of North America, and we will have to adapt if we can.

  The USA Today is devoting an entire week to the issue of global warming. It is basic; as are most things in the USA Today. If global warming is a complex issue this is the paper that will break the issue down.

They have a great primer with graphics, on the Greenhouse Effect written by Sue Kelly and Dan Vergano; graphics by Steve Conley, stuffed away in the life section. Global warming makes more compelling reading than the latest on the X-men movie in the same section. Check it out.

Matt

How To Start Birdwatching

May 29, 2006

I have been birdwatching for 37 years. I have had college-level Ornithology, Bird Ecology, Bird Management, Waterfowl Management and more. I consider myself a Wildlife Biologist, but I know a bunch about birds.

I recently reviewed a tape called How To Start Birdwatching by Diane Porter, The tape was passed to me by a friend; but you can get it through Amazon.com.

It is quite good, and it tells an old dinosaur, like me why birdwatching is a fun passtime.

I have done it for so long because it is a lot of fun, and can be tricky; but I find it to be very healthy as I struggle with my health! Finding warblers in a high canopy can be tricky. Hiking is good for you.

I will warn you ahead of time that bird clubs are filled with "know-it-alls" who know what a bird looks like, but view sharing information as some kind of top secret.

Just ignore those birders because there are a lot of us (friendlies), and you will find no shortage of us.

I recall P.L. Wright was my Ornithology teacher. He seemed stuffy at first, but eventually loosened up and we all learned a lot about birding from him as a result.

I recall Paul Dumont, where I grew up, he and his dad (Phil), shared a lot about birds with us neighborhood kids. Or join a local club like the Montgomery County Bird Club. Show up birding at their favorite haunts. Maryland Osprey, or other statewide listservs will tell you where to go.Go there!It is worthwhile.

Matt

Global Warming Site

May 28, 2006

On the web is a site called: Global Climate Change, research explorer. It is a site that features the impact of global warming and the science of Global Warming for the wonk.

I am not trying to be Orwellian about this. It is very real and will effect us and all the wild things we care about, starting in this lifetime. 

 This is not a "chicken little" scenario. It is a real topic that I will view on occasion with all of the interesting things out there. It impacts the things of interest to this blog. Eventually it may change the way we live.

Please take it for real, and do not view these words as more rambling about a very real problem. Thank you.

Matt

More About Global Warming

May 27, 2006

With the advent of Al Gore's movie, An Inconvieniant truth, about global warming, now playing at the Landmark Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, the Washington Post Magazine, May 26, 2006, has an article called: What Global Warming?, by Joel Achenbach. It is about inside the mind of credable climate change skeptics.

Now I want to be clear, that I am one of those baby boomers, talked about by Bill Gray, who believes in global warming.

In fact I would go so far as to say that it is not a theory anymore, and the consequences will be experienced by my youngest daughter at the current rate.

I believe man's addiction to fossil fuel is the major reason we have global warming today. I think everyone should see Gore's movie.

I think bears are just a "canary in the mindshaft", I am a bearman for sure. I think the biodiversity of life will be negatively impacted by global warming.

Gray and I are graduates from the same high school in Washington, D.C.; Woodrow Wilson High. I graduated in 1972 and he graduated in the 40's. Yet our views are shaped by experiences that we observe. We see different things. 

He backs up none of his esteemed opinions about global warming with data.  He knows a lot about climate change. He scoffs at baby boomers and their reams of data that say global warming is real.

His opinion impacts world leaders, like Cheney and Bush. thats dangerous!

 Read the article. See Gore's movie. Stay tuned to this debate with consequences.

Matt

Rambling

May 26, 2006

I am finished watching birds for the spring, unless something unusual is spotted. All bets are off if that happens. I will bird about once a week now.

The find this year was that the Rock Creek Nature Center will be a hot place for spring migration for the next ten years.

 No question, early, mid and late Migrant numbers; especially the warblers, are down, somewhat dramatically. I think Cow Birds, West Nile Virus, development, moonscape logging, wildfire, overpopulation and global warming, competitition from hardy species like the starling, all have to do with biodiversity going down. They all work together.

It is hard to say what is most important for neo-tropical birds. I get frustrated when someone tells me the obvious about something! So what is the solution?  Much of it is beyond our control…but you can start by buying a small non-gas car or more efficient gas car. It is hard for a guy who has had four children to get too preachy about overpopulation.

But there is a way for the younger folks to help there. I do not mean abstain, either. You do not need the big home in the Poconos. I could go on, but I am preaching to the choir. Environmental awareness is a personal, introspective thing, so I will resist saying more. I am no gadfly, I just love birds and the natural world, for that matter.

Matt

Martha Finds George

May 25, 2006

In todays Washington Post the saga of Martha and George, both Bald Eagles, continue.

The article, written by D'Vera Cohn,  talks about Martha flying,  90 miles from Deleware, were she was released, to the Potomac, near Wilson bridge.

She flew back to George's ,and her's, for that matter, territory. Read about Martha's journey in today's, May 25, article in the Washington Post.

Matt

More in Congress for the Naturalist

May 24, 2006

The House will vote on global warming as an issue for the first time this week.

Attached to FY 2007, the  Interior and Environment Appropriations is a no-binding Congressional Resolution on the dangers posed by global warming.

So watch the "do nothing" congress do nothing or see if it believes in the threat of global warming.

The Senate has voted in the past on  simular measures. As can be expected their message muddles this issue further. They should all sit down and watch Al Gore's new documentary on global warming. It is not muddled, and puts the threat of global warming in perspective for us.

When Bush was asked by a reporter if he plans to watch Gore's movie he chuckled and answered "not likely".

Matt

Mourning Warbler

May 24, 2006

I got the Mourning Warbler at Rock Creek Nature Center, an old childhood haunt.

It was a morning full of warblers and other migrants. I got great looks at a Cape May Warbler and Canada Warblers. I had marginal looks at a Golden-winged Warbler and many good looks at Black-throated Blue Warblers, Blackpoll Warblers and Chestnut-sided Warblers. A Prairie Warbler was singing loudly.

Magnolias and Blackburnians were everywhere. While trying to find the Black-billed Cuckoo and Olive-sided Flycatcher I heard Swainson's Thrush and got great looks at a Veery.

I do not remember the nature center being a funnel for migrants, but second growth and  physiography make the area great right now for seeing birds and the area is very accessable.

It is near the neighborhood I grew up in and near a high school many of my friends went to.

I have many fond memories of the area. Now I have another one.

Matt

Wolf, Probably!

May 22, 2006

In the USA Today, Monday, May 22, there are several interesting articles. One in the business section about a book called: The Pursuit of Happiness by Chris Gardner. He has a compelling story and I will get his book. Read the article! Another, called 2 ideas of Maine collide in woods. This article is by Rick Hampton.

It is about how the perspective of Maine by "outsiders" is very different then the perspective of Maine by those who live their. This was also a big Rocky Mountain debate.

A third article called Mystery beast ravages flocks of Montana sheep by Gwen Florio.This article is the topic of this Post. A predator is killing sheep in far eastern Montana. Nothing new. Compared to this area, Eastern Montana poses a far distance.

The way the predator is killing sheep is very un-coyote like and not like most Mountain Lions; which it could be.

 The ranchers in the story, Mike McKeever, says it is a wolf. Asha Stone from Defenders of Wildlife says wolves do not travel that far.

Carolyn Sime, of the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, the Statewide Wolf Coordinator thinks its a wolf.

Last I knew, Carolyn was a Masters Student studying the Whitetail in northwest Montana. I worked for the Biology Department at Montana State University at the time. That was about 15 years ago.

 One thing I can say about Carolyn is that she is smart. I can also say that the Literature has young disperser male wolves (looking to establish a new territory) making a direct bee-line of travel for 900 miles. I have personal experience with a young male wolf dispersing 400 miles.

I believe Stone is way off base.  Wolves travel to Eastern Montana every year. With 800 wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming more will disperse. With the Charlie Russell Wildlife Range in eastern Montana it will be a matter of time before they (wolves) set up there.

My guess is that we are dealing with a wild wolf and not a hybrid. I have watched 90 pound wolves kill 400 pound cow elk, so I know they can kill a 175 pound sheep.

Bears occassionally wander down-river or young males will disperse when the mother goes into estrus again. Yet bears are hesitant to venture much past the Fairfield Bench or Rocky Mountain front in Montana.

I believe McKeever is right. Defenders does not want to pay McKeever, and the impacted ranchers, the $20,000.00 they owe them for probable wild wolf depradation. That is a fair chunk of change. It will not wipe out Defenders and it may quite down "probably right" McKeever for awhile?

I do not condone killing wolves, unless they are shown to depredate. Then I believe you should remove them from the wild, unless they are in a wolf area like a National Park, extensive wildland or Wilderness area. Wolves breed fast, like most canines do. Eastern Montana is known for antelope, dinosaurs fossils, dryness, rolling hills and really large ranches these days.

 Some ranchers are more tolerant of wolves than others. Most are not from my experience!

Good will to wolves will never come from the ranching crowd, but Stone has to watch her disinformation. It is doubtful that her predacessor at Defenders, Hank Fischer, would have made the same mistake speaking about wolves.

The McKeevers balked a lot about wolves, long before wolves made a comeback for them to balk about.

Wolves were out on the Montana plains long before the first livestock set foot on the same plains, so I have no sympathy for McKeevers of the world. I think Carolyn is right about the predator I think her job is like being between a rock and a hard spot!  It is a tough job.

 It is only a matter of time before the real culprit shows himself. I am betting Wolf!!!!

Matt