For Winged Wednesday:
"The Black Skimmer’s remarkable bill, with the lower part longer than the upper, is unique among U.S. birds. A feeding skimmer flies low over water with its beak open and partially submerged. When it touches a prey item, such as a small fish, the upper bill snaps down, securing the bird’s meal.
Preferred habitats include sandy or gravelly bars and beaches, shallow bays, estuaries, and salt marsh pools. The Black Skimmer is a social bird, roosting and breeding in colonies of up to thousands of pairs, often alongside gulls and terns. Successful colonies usually occupy the same nest sites each year. Interestingly, this skimmer is somewhat crepuscular in its habits, feeding most actively at dawn and dusk.
Major threats to this species are habitat loss due to coastal development and human disturbances during nesting. The Black Skimmer is also affected by threats to fish populations such as oil spills or chemical pollution.
ABC is launching a five-state, Gulf Coast conservation effort to identify and implement protective measures for Black Skimmers and other vulnerable beach-nesting birds. These measures will include signage and fencing at colonies to reduce accidental nest destruction and abandonment."
Controversy and Challenges of Conserving the Northern Spotted Owl
"This Bird New Network video by American Bird Conservancy (http://www.abcbirds.org highlights the Northern Spotted Owl, a threatened species that has been a symbol of the controversy over how to manage the remaining old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest."
Oil Spill Clean-Up Needs to be Improved:
rufa Red Knot
"Red Knots are long-distance migrant shorebirds—most of the rufa subspecies travel over 9,000 miles each way between their primary wintering grounds in Tierra del Fuego and their breeding areas in the arctic. During migration, they gather in large flocks at traditional “staging areas”. One of the most important of these is Delaware Bay, where knots and other shorebirds gather each spring to feed on horseshoe crab eggs, building up the body fat needed to fuel the remainder of their journey and breed successfully.
There has been a severe, ongoing decline in the rufa Red Knot population over the last few decades, largely due to the over-harvesting of horseshoe crabs, which have become popular as fishing bait, and potential, as-yet unidentified threats on the birds’ South American wintering grounds. A recent study, conducted in Chile in the winter of 2011, showed that numbers at one major wintering site had declined by at least 5,000 birds from the previous year (one third of the population).
ABC and other conservation groups petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to list the rufa Red Knot under the Endangered Species Act in 2005, and have continued to highlight the species’ decline and to push for its protection. Persistence finally paid off this July, when FWS announced that it was fast-tracking ESA listing, now expected to be finalized in 2013."
New Yorkers spot rare gull on Coney Island
Aug 2, 2011 10:55:04 PM
"Seagulls are common on Coney Island, but the recent sighting of the gray-hooded gull, a bird that is native to Africa or South America, drew crowds of people from as far away as Chicago, The New York Times reports.
Bird enthusiasts hauled cameras to the beach to spot a bird that has only been spotted one other time in the United States - in December 1998. First seen by Douglas B. McNair in Franklin County, Florida, the recent sighting has raised questions of how the gull got there and when.
According to McNair's report on his sighting, the gull had an upright posture, and had a moderately long and thick beak. Both beak and feet were carmine, he reported. Birders are saying the same about the Coney Island gull.
Rob Fanning, one birder who drove from New Jersey to see the gull, says that if the bird was someone's pet or escaped from a zoo, it would not be considered an official sighting by the American Birding Association, the news source reports. There have been no animal rescue efforts for this wild bird, but an additional review process is in place to determine its origin.
Doves won't die by lead contamination anymore.
Bird Conservation Group Hails Iowa DNR Decision Prohibiting Use of Lead Shot for Dove Hunting
Mourning Doves by Gary Smyle
(Washington, D.C., July 15, 2011) "The nation’s leading bird conservation organization – American Bird Conservancy (ABC) – today hailed the decision by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to require the use of nontoxic ammunition for the first Mourning Dove hunting season in Iowa since 1918. In Iowa, the hunting of doves will use the same nontoxic ammunition as mandated for waterfowl hunting, which has required nontoxic shot since 1991 throughout the US.
Over 500 scientific studies attest to the fact that IOWA DNR did the right thing in taking action that will reduce the proliferation of one of the world’s most toxic substances – lead. Tens of thousands of doves and other birds mistakenly ingest lead shot littering the ground after the hunting season. Every Mourning Dove that ingests a lead pellet is essentially a dead dove. The use of nontoxic shot will save these birds from needless and agonizing deaths from toxic lead left in fields. The Iowa decision is pro-wildlife and it is pro-environment,” said ABC President George Fenwick.
"Contrary to what members of the gun lobby may say, this action is not anti-hunting. Hunters can still engage in a pastime that has been part of our culture for hundreds of years. The only change is that they need to use non-toxic ammunition,” said Fenwick. In 2010 the price of steel shotgun ammo for doves went on sale, and was actually lower than the price of steel shot.
The non-toxic shot requirement follows several discussions by the commission during the past year concerning the impacts of lead shot to the environment and on wildlife. Lead – or toxic – shot used in hunting can be ingested by wildlife. There has been a national ban on the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting since 1991 with non-toxic shot for waterfowl being in place in Iowa since 1987.
The rules approved by the commission allow for a dove season starting Sept. 1st and ending Nov. 9th. The final rule allows the harvest of 15 doves a day and can be either mourning or Eurasian collared-doves. The possession limit is 30 and the season is open state-wide.
Commissioners added and approved an amendment that would require hunters to only use non-toxic shot while hunting doves anywhere in the state of Iowa.
According to Iowa DNR, he decision to ban toxic shot for dove hunting was based largely on the fact that much of the hunting occurs over a small area which would increase the likelihood of lead concentrations being created.
A series of recent developments on the issue of lead ammunition continues to bolster the case against continued use of lead ammunition for both shotguns and rifles, including editorials by leaders in the hunting and fishing community, findings from several new studies, and actions by the U.S. military.
Ted Williams, editor of Fly Rod and Reel Online, said in Audubon Magazine that: “Despite cheap available alternatives most American sportsmen are still using lead ammunition and fishing tackle. Because of this, some of our most majestic birds, from eagles to loons to condors pay a terrible price.”
In addition, one of the world’s leading newspapers, the New York Times, has also called for an end to lead ammunition use in hunting. A May 16, 2011 editorial states: “Banning lead poses no threat to hunters or fishermen. It is a way of making sure they kill only the prey they seek without inadvertently killing other creatures as well.”
Another development impacting the continued use of lead ammunition is a decision by the U.S. Army to move to a lead-free 5.56mm rifle bullet. Lt. Col. Jeff Woods, the Army's small caliber Ammunition Product Manager, was effusive in his praise of its performance in the May issue of www.Military.com. "There's nothing out there right now that can perform like this round on this wide a range of targets. This is a clear case where making something environmentally friendly works for us," he said.
Army officials said the new ammunition improved hard-target capability and provided more dependable, consistent performance at all distances, as well as improved accuracy, reduced muzzle flash, and increased velocity.
“Clearly, the military praise of the performance of this lead-free ammunition speaks for itself. I doubt that there are any more knowledgeable people when it comes to understanding and appreciating ammunition performance, than the military. The myth that lead-free ammunition doesn’t perform has been exposed, and hunters can use non-toxic ammunition with confidence that it will meet their high standards,” Fenwick said.
Lead is a highly toxic substance that is dangerous to wildlife even at low levels. Exposure can cause a range of health effects, from loss of coordination and nerve damage to acute poisoning and death. Long-term effects can include mental retardation, reduced reproduction, and damage to neurological development.
Several studies of various species of birds suggest that up to 10 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning in the United States, including Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, Loons, Trumpeter Swans, and doves. This occurs when animals scavenge on carcasses shot and contaminated with lead bullet fragments, or pick up and eat spent lead shot pellets or lost fishing weights, mistaking them for food or grit. Some animals die within days, while others suffer for years from lead’s debilitating effects.
Lead ammunition also poses health risks to people. Lead bullets fragment on impact into minute particles, spreading throughout game meat that people eat. X-ray studies show that hundreds of dust-sized lead particles can contaminate meat more than a foot and a half away from the bullet track.
A recent study found that up to 87% of game killed by lead ammunition contains unsafe levels of lead when consumed by pregnant women or children. Nearly ten million hunters, their families, and low-income beneficiaries of venison donations may be at risk."
Just improving things around here, nothing very exciting!
Well, enough was enough! The heat and humidity in the room where my computers are, has just not been comfortable to spend a lot of time there, especially lately. A hygrometer and thermometer showed that when the AC was set on 74 deg., it was still over 82 in there, and the humidity was over 60%. It was just plain clammy.
That AC just couldn't keep up, especially since we lost the shade on that side of the house from the tree felling. If you factor in the square feet, number of windows, that there is tiny bathroom off that room, the computers etc., the BTU was not enough. After calling Jay, and asking him to be ready earlier than usual, we set off for Lowes. We were back before 10.00AM with a larger AC.
Jay had wanted to stop at Jack in the Box for some breakfast, but I told him I would make him something better than that.
While he was moving the little filing cabinets out of the way of the old AC, I toasted him some real extra aged Cheddar on top of two slices of real bread with real butter in the little toaster oven, until the cheddar was bubbly.
While that was toasting, I fried some real farm organic eggs in coconut oil. (Everyone should have some coconut oil every day) I scattered some special herb seasoning, and dill seasoning over it all, and he had a side of apple sauce. (An apple a day…) He loved the coffee made with my new Kitchenaid coffee maker, and said he could taste the difference in the organic food. He raved about it, and said that he didn't have that yucky feeling after he ate.
It wasn't much, but more nutritious and more food than a processed white flour, factory-farmed egg sandwich at Jack's.
As we unpacked the box, to our dismay, we found out that the AC was dented. There was no way we were going back to Conroe, so I took 12 pictures of the dents and some with the serial # on the AC's box showing.
We just wanted to git 'er done!
The silly little accordion 'wing' things that come with window ACs are not insulated, so we never use them. We took out the rigid foam board insulation 'wings' from when we had installed that AC, one year and one week ago. That foam board had been covered with white vinyl siding on the outside, and white paneling on the inside, to make it look more 'finished'.
This time we didn't do all that yet, but installed TWO layers of rigid foam board, so Jay went outside and secured the outside layer with aluminum tape, while I secured the inside layer, leaving no gaps for air infiltration anywhere. We can dress it up later.
You can see how hot and sunny it is there, and how badly we need to shade the windows completely. That side of the house isn't seen from the roads at the front or rear, so the AC doesn't show. No, I didn't want central heat and air, been there, done that, and all the ACs are hidden from view in some way, as ACs hanging out of windows on the front of a house look tacky.
Before I took Jay home, we quickly installed the new 2-way hose fitting so I can use the timer to water the front lawn when the sun has moved away from it for the day.