Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Worthen's Sparrow. Red Knots and Horseshoe Crabs. Bird Habitats. Francis Drake. South Pole. Misty.

For "Winged Wednesday":

Worthen's Sparrow:

Worthen's Sparrow by Antonio Hidalgo

"The Worthen’s Sparrow is a trim-looking sparrow with a rufous cap, pink bill, and white eye ring. It closely resembles the Field Sparrow, a much more numerous species found throughout the middle and eastern United States.

Recent data show that the Worthen’s Sparrows are somewhat nomadic in their range, following annual rain patterns to take advantage of the best available breeding habitat. They form flocks after the breeding season that tend to congregate around permanent sources of water.

Major threats to this sparrow include habitat destruction and degradation caused by potato farming and livestock overgrazing, as well as global climate change, which is changing the annual rainfall patterns.

ABC has partnered with the Mexican conservation organization Pronatura Noreste since 2007 to work on the conservation of the Worthen’s Sparrow habitat in the El Tokio (Saltillo) grasslands of the Chihuahuan Desert. Pronatura Noreste has protected or improved management of more than 150,000 acres of grassland habitat that protect key breeding sites for the Worthen’s Sparrow and wintering habitat for many WatchList species, including the Long-billed Curlew, Mountain Plover, Baird’s Sparrow, Chestnut-collared Longspur, and Sprague's Pipit.

Learn more and find out how you can help protect the
Worthen’s Sparrow and its habitat!


Rufa Red Knot

Red Knot by Mike Parr

"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."

Learn more and help support ABC's efforts to conserve the rufa Red Knot.


Red Knots and Horseshoe Crabs






"In July 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS announced it will expedite the process of adding the declining rufa subspecies of the Red Knot to the federal Endangered Species List.

This decision follows the release of the results of the 2011 population count on the bird’s main wintering grounds in Tierra del Fuego, South America. The survey found a shocking decline
from the previous winter of at least 5,000 birds—approximately
one third of the population. The FWS decision also coincides with the release of a new study that confirms the importance of an abundant horseshoe crab population in Delaware Bay to the survival of the rufa Red Knot. The knots feed on the crab eggs during a critical stopover at the bay during their spring migration north to breed.

Despite growing evidence of unsustainable take of horseshoe
crabs for use as bait in conch pots, the Atlantic States Marine
Fisheries Commission, which regulates horseshoe crab harvest,
has failed to reduce take quotas in the last six years. In fact, the Commission dismantled its own Shorebird Technical
Committee after it recommended a moratorium on harvests.
ABC has worked for a decade to protect the population of horseshoe crabs from overfishing to safeguard the supply of eggs for the knot and other shorebirds.

Habitat for this new species continues to be reduced by ranching and agriculture. Future conservation actions will include reforestation and outreach campaigns, reserve expansion through land acquisition, community-driven tourism, and monitoring.

“It became clear to us that the only way that the Atlantic States
Marine Fisheries Commission was going to enact the necessary
safeguards to protect the Red Knot’s food supply was if they
were forced to by federal action,” said Darin Schroeder, Vice President of Conservation Advocacy at ABC.

To that end, ABC joined other conservation groups in advocating for the listing of the rufa Red Knot under the Endangered Species Act, “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to list the rufa Red Knot, though long overdue, will someday be recognized as the turning point in staving off the bird’s extinction,” Schroeder said."

More at:


Red Knots

Red Knots by Ralph WrightRed Knots by Wright

The Challenge

"The rufa Red Knot is included on the United States Watchlist of Birds of Conservation Concern and is a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act. It relies on the eggs of horseshoe crabs for food when it stops in Delaware Bay to refuel during spring migration from Argentina to Canada to breed – a relationship that goes back millennia. Unfortunately, those eggs are disappearing due to the overharvesting of horseshoe crabs, which are used as bait in conch and eel pots. Without a sufficient supply of eggs, many birds fail to complete their epic journey. As the horseshoe crab population has declined, so has that of the Red Knot.


The extinction of the Red Knot is preventable by ensuring an overabundance of horseshoe crab eggs in Delaware Bay when the birds arrive each spring. Restrictions on horseshoe crab fishing are needed to bring their numbers back to historic levels. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates horseshoe crab harvest, has demonstrated an unwillingness to help the Red Knot above the financial interests of a few fishermen. Individual states such as Maryland have instituted some harvest limits, but ultimately, listing of the Red Knot under the Endangered Species Act is necessary to prevent its extinction.

ABC Results

In February 2009, American Bird Conservancy helped win a restriction on the take of horseshoe crabs in Maryland. Two male crabs must be taken for every one female, resulting in fewer crabs being taken in total—and more females surviving to lay their eggs on the beaches.

Thanks, in part, to ABC, the rufa Red Knot was added to the Candidate List for future protection under the Endangered Species Act, indicating that government experts recognize the need to protect this species.

Following the efforts of ABC and its partners, a sanctuary was established at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, within which horseshoe crabs may not be harvested.

ABC helped pilot a giveaway program of horseshoe crab bait bags that reduce the need for horseshoe crabs by up to 50%. Read More Here."



Map of 20 Most Threatened Bird Habitats in the US.

"This map shows the range extent of each of the 20 most threatened bird habitats in the United States. Prior to European settlement, these habitats would have occupied most or all of the indicated range. Today, however, most only survive in small, isolated pockets, in total, occupying a tiny fraction of the overall U.S. land area."

Photos left to right: Laysan Albatrosses: Bill Hubick; Swallow-tailed Kites: Ken Meyer; Marbled Godwits: Glen Tepke.


Tuesday's post was already too long, (like most of them!) so here is this now:

Drake sets out,  On Dec 13, 1577:

"English seaman Francis Drake sets out from Plymouth, England, with five ships and 164 men on a mission to raid Spanish holdings on the Pacific coast of the New World and explore the Pacific Ocean. Three years later, Drake's return to Plymouth marked the first circumnavigation of the earth by a British explorer.

After crossing the Atlantic, Drake abandoned two of his ships in South America and then sailed into the Straits of Magellan with the remaining three. A series of devastating storms besieged his expedition in the treacherous straits, wrecking one ship and forcing another to return to England. Only The Golden Hind reached the Pacific Ocean, but Drake continued undaunted up the western coast of South America, raiding Spanish settlements and capturing a rich Spanish treasure ship.

Drake then continued up the western coast of North America, searching for a possible northeast passage back to the Atlantic. Reaching as far north as present-day Washington before turning back, Drake paused near San Francisco Bay in June 1579 to repair his ship and prepare for a journey across the Pacific. Calling the land "Nova Albion," Drake claimed the territory for Queen Elizabeth I.

In July, the expedition set off across the Pacific, visiting several islands before rounding Africa's Cape of Good Hope and returning to the Atlantic Ocean. On September 26, 1580, The Golden Hind returned to Plymouth, England, bearing treasure, spice, and valuable information about the world's great oceans. Drake was the first captain to sail his own ship all the way around the world--the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan had sailed three-fourths of the way around the globe earlier in the century but had been killed in the Philippines, leaving the Basque navigator Juan Sebastián de Elcano to complete the journey.

In 1581, Queen Elizabeth I knighted Drake, the son of a tenant farmer, during a visit to his ship. The most renowned of the Elizabethan seamen, Sir Francis Drake later played a crucial role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada."


On This Day:

Amundsen reaches South Pole, Dec 14, 1911:

"Norwegian Roald Amundsen becomes the first explorer to reach the South Pole, beating his British rival, Robert Falcon Scott.

Amundsen, born in Borge, near Oslo, in 1872, was one of the great figures in polar exploration. In 1897, he was first mate on a Belgian expedition that was the first ever to winter in the Antarctic. In 1903, he guided the 47-ton sloop Gjöa through the Northwest Passage and around the Canadian coast, the first navigator to accomplish the treacherous journey. Amundsen planned to be the first man to the North Pole, and he was about to embark in 1909 when he learned that the American Robert Peary had achieved the feat.

Amundsen completed his preparations and in June 1910 sailed instead for Antarctica, where the English explorer Robert F. Scott was also headed with the aim of reaching the South Pole. In early 1911, Amundsen sailed his ship into Antarctica's Bay of Whales and set up base camp 60 miles closer to the pole than Scott. In October, both explorers set off--Amundsen using sleigh dogs, and Scott employing Siberian motor sledges, Siberian ponies, and dogs. On December 14, 1911, Amundsen's expedition won the race to the Pole and returned safely to base camp in late January.

Scott's expedition was less fortunate. The motor sleds broke down, the ponies had to be shot, and the dog teams were sent back as Scott and four companions continued on foot. On January 18, 1912, they reached the pole only to find that Amundsen had preceded them by over a month. Weather on the return journey was exceptionally bad--two members perished--and a storm later trapped Scott and the other two survivors in their tent only 11 miles from their base camp. Scott's frozen body was found later that year.

After his historic Antarctic journey, Amundsen established a successful shipping business. He later made attempts to become the first explorer to fly over the North Pole. In 1925, in an airplane, he flew within 150 miles of the goal. In 1926, he passed over the North Pole in a dirigible just three days after American explorer Richard E. Byrd had apparently done so in an aircraft. In 1996, a diary that Byrd had kept on the flight was found that seemed to suggest that the he had turned back 150 miles short of its goal because of an oil leak, making Amundsen's dirigible expedition the first flight over the North Pole.

In 1928, Amundsen lost his life while trying to rescue a fellow explorer whose dirigible had crashed at sea near Spitsbergen, Norway."



Jay was busy with their neighbor, so it gave me a chance to catch up on chores.  Some in the house, and some in the workshop.

The new computer is still sitting there, I just feel more comfortable using my old one, as I know where everything is. The new one just doesn't feel like an old friend.  Previous times when I got a new computer, Misty's late 'Dad' was around to help me, but he passed nearly 5 years ago.  

I don't think Misty misses him anymore, she is happy here.  She had those terrible 3¼ years after he died, when she was abused, un-groomed, mistreated, and didn't get the veterinary care she needed, before I was able to rescue her.  After two surgeries, both to correct life-threatening infections, she walks with a spring in her step.  One was her terribly infected teeth, which had spread After emergency pyometra surgery to her sinuses.  Fortunately, I got her before it went the next fatal step into her brain.  

Then she had to have her uterus removed, as like a lot of dogs who are not spayed by five years old, she got Pyometra.  She would not have lived long, if I hadn't got her.

She can find her way around my back yard, and as soon as she feels the walkway path, she trots down it just as if she can see, with her tail a'waggin'. 

When I take her for her 'walk-about' at Jay's when we pick hiJust-groomedm up, she always goes the same route, as she knows where the hazards are, and that I will lead her around them.  She is such a sweet dog, but she always was, as I groomed her for years before her 'Dad' died.

Until my new clippers and blades arrive today, I can't finish grooming her, but I did more yesterday.


Dizzy-Dick said...

She is lucky to have you and she reminds me of my late wonderful Buttons.

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Thank you for your comment, Dick.
But in my mind, I am the fortunate one.
Happy Tails, and Trails, Penny.