Monday, June 29, 2009
New Pairs: Little Averill - north (flooded nest, nest in bad location on someone's beachfront - left a note w/ cottage owners in case of re-nest attempt), Great Hosmer (1 chick), Rodgers Pond in Glover, Kent Pond, and Sunset Lake in Marlboro. Rodgers is the biggest surprise being a smaller marshy pond with Daniels P. and L. Parker nearby.
We've had some pair activity on Noyes, Flagg, Ewell, and Elmore, where single birds have been seen recently, thus we have potential for nests at these sites. We'll see. The Norton North pair took to the raft after a depredated nest in 2008.
We picked up a dead loon on Stiles Res. that was banded as a chick on Azischohos Res. in Maine back in 1994. It likely has been a resident on Stiles for several years as I had observed a banded loon out there but never got all the leg band colors. This might be one of the longest dispersal distances documented by a loon chick.
The annual Vermont LoonWatch survey day is July 18th. For more information about The Vermont Loon Recovery Project, visit http://www.vtecostudies.org/loons/
Saturday, June 27, 2009
When a zebra finch hears a new song from a member of its own species, the experience changes gene expression in its brain in unexpected ways, researchers report. The sequential switching on and off of thousands of genes after a bird hears a new tune offers a new picture of memory in the songbird brain
Thursday, June 25, 2009
At a recent gathering, friends and family of Julie Nicholson shared stories of adventures with one of VCE’s most dedicated citizen scientist’s. Words like friend, hard working, determined and charming were used, but what shone through every story was her dedication to the conservation of birds and wildlife. Julie’s passing has left a hole in our hearts and in the local birding community. We at VCE will miss her dearly.
To keep Julie’s energy alive, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies has established the Julie Nicholson Citizen Scientist Award. This award honors Julie’s extraordinary passion and commitment to birds and wildlife conservation through her many years of tireless work as a citizen scientist. It will be given annually to an individual who exemplifies Julie's dedication to the cause of citizen science and conservation.
The 2009 winner of the Julie Nicholson Citizen Scientist Award is Roy Pilcher. An avid birder since his childhood in Southern Rhodesia, Roy has clocked countless hours as a citizen scientist. He has been involved in everything from the Christmas Bird Count and Rutland County Audubon to the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas and Butterfly Survey. Roy has tirelessly monitored local Important Bird Areas and entered years of observations into the Vermont eBird.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Prolonged cold snowy conditions in the Hudson Bay area are expected to obliterate the breeding season for migratory birds and most other species of wildlife this year.
According to Environment Canada, the spring of 2009 is record-late in the eastern Arctic with virtually 100 per cent snow cover from James Bay north as of June 11.
May temperatures in northern Manitoba were almost four degrees C below the long-term average of -0.7, and in early June, temperatures averaged three degrees below normal.Read more.....
Big chill in Churchill - Winnipeg Free Press
Friday, June 19, 2009
The next morning's survey was uneventful, although I was happy to hear a Boreal Chickadee on my way down. The rain crept in and I was forced to camp down low Saturday night. Fortunately, Lake Harris has an active loon pair and I was able to listen to their nocturnal antics. Next up on my list was the Santanoni Range. I had heard it was a mud-bath of a trail, with lots of bugs to boot, so I was prepared for the worst. All I could think of though, was that it was nowhere near as bad as my trip in to Wallface Ponds last summer. Nowhere near as much mud, standing water, or mosquitoes. I was thoroughly delighted. The rocky river created some very inviting pools, which reminded me how cool this June has been compared to the last few. No 80 degree days so far.
While struggling to keep the black flies out of my head net that evening at the lean-to, I glimpsed a large dark bird with white in the tail fly across in front of me. My impression was a super-sized junco, so maybe a Gray Jay? I didn't think they were around here, but I whistled and pished anyway. No response. I went back to the black flies. Ten minutes later a female Black-backed Woodpecker foraged quietly from tree to tree. I was surprised, but then thought about all the beaver ponds and dead trees around. Swainson's and Bicknell's Thrushes were all around as the flies gradually cleared out in anticipation of the approaching thunderstorm. Bradley Pond was calm and reflective the morning of the survey. Despite all the Bicknell's in the area, I only heard one at the five survey stations. I managed to hike out before the storms rolled in, but I was still drenched from all the previous night's rain hanging on the vegetation along the narrow trails.
I was to head up Hopkins that evening, but the storms were unrelenting. I called up a friend and Mountain Birdwatch volunteer for Giant and asked for a dry place to crash for a few hours before I got up at 2am Tues morning. This time, I hiked up the Ranney Trail from route 73, not the back way I had so much trouble following two years ago. It was a pleasant hike with a nice stream bubbling alonside much of the way. I was looking forward to seeing it in the daylight. As is normal for Hopkins, there were no Bicknell's present, but the view is so commanding, I recommend it. There is also a nice patch of Pale corydalis, which I first saw on Smarts Mtn in NH last summer.
Later that evening I hiked up Pitchoff. I was tired by this time (as you might imagine) and when I finally got to the second summit with a 360 degree view, I set my pack down and collapsed on the rock. I laid there perfectly still for a few minutes and then started at a loud whooshing sound behind me. I sat up and watched as a first year Bald Eagle not 20 feet away banked away from me and continued to circle around a bit before flying away. I sure felt tired, but did I look dead enough for an eagle to check me out? Apparently! Either that or it had just crested the mountain and was as surprised by me as I was of it. Pretty cool either way. They are huge birds! The Swainson's Thrushes were quite vocal all evening, but the Bicknell's were being moody. I did some playbacks in the evening, but no response. I didn't hear one sing until 9:24pm. The next morning I heard five or six, all at locations where I had done playback the night before. Like I said, moody little birds.
This weekend looks wet, but I'm still hoping to fit in a survey or two in VT, now that I'm re-energized after a day of rest.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Monday, June 08, 2009
Dear fellow climbers:
We have access to parts of the world few of our fellow citizens ever see, and we have a particular set of skills not many share. We're asking you to bring those two things to bear next Oct. 24 in a one-day project that we hope will have some measurable impact on changing the world.
Because you've been up high, you're aware that global warming is fast melting the world's glaciers--here's an example from the summit of Kilimanjaro. In fact, scientists who have drilled glacial cores around the world tell us this melt is growing ever faster, to the point where in the lifetimes of all of us it may endanger not only the alpine world but also the billions of people who live downstream and depend on these glaciers for drinking and irrigation. So far, though, the political response to climate change has been too slow.
Now, with the crucial negotiations looming on the horizon in Copenhagen, we can do something to help change that. The world's foremost climatologist, NASA's James Hansen, and his team last year declared that 350 parts per million CO2 was the most carbon we could safely have in the atmosphere. That's a tough number, because we're already past it. At the moment, the atmosphere holds 387 ppm CZO2, which is why glaciers and Arctic sea ice are melting. Indeed, this research team cautioned that unless we got back below that number, then eventually the earth might well be ice-free.
The planet will scrub some of that CO2, but only if we stop pouring more in. To move political leaders to take this seriously, 350.org is organizing a huge global day of action on Oct. 24, designed to drum that number into every head on the planet. Churches will be ringing their bells 350 times, people will be hanging banners from iconic sights from the Taj Mahal to the Eiffel Tower, people will be joining hands in great lines along the world's beaches. There will even be 350 scuba divers down off the Great Barrier Reef, itself succumbing to higher ocean temperatures. But there's no place that captures the public imagination more thoroughly than the peaks and cliffs that we climb. So: we urge you to get up somewhere high and visible on October 24, and figure out some way to make that number visible. Maybe stomp it into the snow, maybe hang a great banner off a rock face--you will know what works best where you happen to be. What we'll need by, day's end if possible, is a photo, uploaded to the web, of whatever you've figured out to do.
If you're on an expedition, or the weather won't cooperate, a few days beforehand or a day or two after will work as well--the goal is simply to take this obscure number, arguably the most important number in the world, and make it the most well-known 3 digits on the planet. If we do, then it will set the bar for negotiators. At the very least, we'll have helped let the rest of the world know what the crucial reality facing the planet is.
If you can help, please contact Jamie Henn at Jamie@350.org.
Conrad Anker, David Breashears, Lynn Hill, Bill McKibben
Saturday, June 06, 2009
This month, Bird Studies Canada is working with forestry companies in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to determine whether the Bicknell’s Thrush is present in high elevation, crown forest stands undergoing pre-commercial thinning. If the species is found, BSC will notify company staff so that they may choose to follow best management practices. Funding is provided by the Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship Program for Species At Risk.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Wednesday night I headed up to northern Vermont and stayed at the Tillotson camp. I had no idea I was in for such a commanding view from the porch of the four-walled shelter, not to mention Belvidere Mtn looming off to the south. Tillotson was fairly uneventful, which is always a good thing on these solo backpacking trips, but I did manage to hear a couple of Bicknell's. They were quite a surprise to my trained eye (or rather ears), as the habitat did not look very "Bicknelly"--it was characterized by a tall canopy and had deciduous trees mixed throughout. But who says Bicknell's aren't full of surprises.
Thursday night I drove south to Lincoln Gap and hiked in to Mt Lincoln, or Abe as it's affectionately called. It's also called Sugarbush by the avid skiers among us. It was a long hike in, up and over Mt Abraham (one of only four peaks in VT with alpine vegetation), Little Abe, Lincoln, with the survey route starting between Lincoln and Nancy Hanks peaks. I found a nice mossy spot off the trail on Little Abe to pitch my tent. And what a fortuitous place it was for setting camp! I had some of the best and longest views of Bicknell's, while sitting in my tent with the flap open. I even got a blurry photo of it calling. Not worthy of a photo contest, but probably the best I'll ever get with my point and shoot and not having the bird in the hand.
Tomorrow VCE is running a natural history exploration event in Grafton, VT. After that, it's up to one of our long-term study plots on Stratton. Gotta take advantage of the great weather!
Mountain Birdwatch Coordinator
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Julie Hart attended the 6th Northeast Alpine Stewardship Gathering in Lake Placid, NY, last weekend. She presented VCE research on American Pipits and alpine butterflies in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire. Listen to her speak about their unique life cycle on this short audio clip from Adirondack Park Nature Report and check out VCE's conservation assessment for the White Mountain Arctic and Fritillary.