Posted by: atowhee | November 28, 2020

AFTERNOON INFLUX

Over at Fairview Wetlands it seems every afternoon brings in hundreds of Cackling Geese to feed on the lawns.

This morning in that same area there were few geese besides the trio of Canadas that are ensconced in the wetlands. They spend much of the day feeding on the lawns around the CEP building which is at the end of a cul-de-sac and thus quiet. The geese, of course, are NOT quiet. A pair and a spare? Mom, dad and youngster?

In the open space portion of the wetlands east of Fairview where is just enough standing water to attract snipe. I scared up four over there today.

Fairview Wetlands, Marion, Oregon, US
Nov 28, 2020 11:00 AM – 11:40 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.0 mile(s)
21 species

Cackling Goose  1
Canada Goose  145
Northern Shoveler  X
American Wigeon  X
Mallard  X
Northern Pintail  X
Green-winged Teal  X
Bufflehead  7
American Coot  8
Wilson’s Snipe  4     in wetlands open space east of Fairview Industrial Drive
California Gull  2     fly over
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Northern Flicker  4
Steller’s Jay  1
California Scrub-Jay  1
American Crow  2
American Goldfinch  3
Song Sparrow  4
Lincoln’s Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  40

Posted by: atowhee | November 25, 2020

PUTTING THE MUSIC BACK IN SONG

Some of the original research into bird song was conducted in the Bay Area by the late Luis Baptista. He showed the world that local populations of White-crowned Sparrows have their own dialects, that local bird language changes over time and that young birds learn their neighbors’ dialect, they are not born singing like their parents.

Current research shows that the lockdown of loud, mechanized hominids has allowed sparrows in the Bay Area to return to using old-fashioned tunes again. A fiddle and a bow and away we go…

Posted by: atowhee | November 24, 2020

CONSEQUENCES

Our species cannot go on if we do not learn to weigh consequences…all of them. It is NOT all about us, it is about life on this planet.

Here is recent press release on a study indiczating ozone pollution could have killed large number sof birdas if we had not acted to control ozone levels in the atmospher.

Ozone pollution and bird abundances

A study finds that air pollution, particularly ozone pollution, is associated with continental declines in birds and that regulations to limit ozone precursors resulted in air quality improvements that likely averted the loss of around 1.5 billion birds over the past four decades, suggesting that regulations developed to protect human health can have significant conservation benefits.
Article #20-13568: “Conservation cobenefits from air pollution regulation: Evidence from birds,” by Yuanning Liang et al.

Here is the link: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/11/23/2013568117″


The real test concerning our species’ survival (and many other organisms–can people bring themselves to consider consequences before acting?

Are we  more like Trump or Thoreau?  The answer to that will determine whether we survive or follow the trilobites.

Plastic, climate change, fossil fuels, over-use of antibiotics, over-population, pavement, habitat destruction, tribalism, greed, war–our list of ways to do damage is long–can we get our large organizations from private to public to actually weigh consequences?

Posted by: atowhee | November 23, 2020

TODAY WASD TURKEY DAY AT OUR HOUSE

My wife looked out our front window and asked, “Is that a turkey I see going by?” It was and I grabbed my camera and out to follow them down our street. I had been told that a flock lives here in southeast Salem but in 4.5 months it is the first time we’ve seen them.

Turkeys are not native here. They were imported for the sport of killing them. In manty lowland areas of Oregon and California they have thriven. Our winters are mild compared to their native range so they don’t move around much once established. They are great parents, the adults staying out of the trees until their young can fly.

If you want to view some really thankful turkeys this Thanksgiving season, check out this video of a flock, replete with strutting toms, feeling good in a Toledo, Ohio, city park. Back there the species is native. Video courtesy of CBS Sunday Morning News, click here.

Posted by: atowhee | November 22, 2020

SMOOTH LANDINGS

This afternoon I first heard the calls, then looked up to see the waves of approaching Cackling Geese. The dog and I were walking the perimeter of Fairview Wetlands. The geese came in, circled as they coasted downward, lowered their landing gear and then plopped down onto the lawn of the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife just across the street from the marsh.

I now see nutria every time we visit the marsh. Two days I saw four individuals–some seem wary but at least one is blase about humans and does not seem to register that a dog should be a danger. Partly that is because they don’t see well and their main sensory input is auditory and perhaps a dog walking doesn’t sound much different from a person.

Yesterday there was a flock of flickers in the wetland section east of Fairview Industrial Drive…that is mostly brush with no apparent standing water.

Fairview Wetlands, Marion, Oregon, US
Nov 19, 2020
Checklist Comments:     nearly tame nutria on the lawn
15 species

Canada Goose  14
Northern Shoveler  10
Gadwall  4
American Wigeon  6
Mallard  X
Northern Pintail  6
Green-winged Teal  40
Bufflehead  7
American Coot  8
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
American Crow  7
American Goldfinch  3
Song Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  X

Fairview Wetlands, Marion, Oregon, US
Nov 20, 2020
22 species

Canada Goose  X
Northern Shoveler  X
Gadwall  X
American Wigeon  X
Mallard  X
Northern Pintail  X
Green-winged Teal  X
Ring-necked Duck  1
Bufflehead  X
American Coot  X
Northern Harrier  1
Cooper’s Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Northern Flicker  2
American Crow  1
Black-capped Chickadee  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
White-crowned Sparrow  2
Golden-crowned Sparrow  4
Song Sparrow  2
Spotted Towhee  2
Red-winged Blackbird  20

Fairview Wetlands, Marion, Oregon, US
Nov 21, 2020
22 species

Cackling Goose  50     fly overs
Canada Goose  30     only three in the marsh
Northern Shoveler  X
Gadwall  X
American Wigeon  X
Mallard  X
Northern Pintail  X
Green-winged Teal  30
Bufflehead  6
Mourning Dove  1
American Coot  9
Wilson’s Snipe  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Northern Flicker  8     most were in flock on portion of wetlands east of Fairview Industrial Drive
American Crow  2
Bushtit  22
Bewick’s Wren  1
White-crowned Sparrow  2
Golden-crowned Sparrow  20
Song Sparrow  9
Lincoln’s Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  30

Fairview Wetlands, Marion, Oregon, US
Nov 22, 2020
18 species

Cackling Goose  500
Canada Goose  23     only three in the marsh, the rest fly bys
Northern Shoveler  20
Gadwall  4
American Wigeon  6
Mallard  30
Northern Pintail  2
Green-winged Teal  30
Bufflehead  5
American Coot  3
Wilson’s Snipe  1
American Crow  2
Bushtit  22
Golden-crowned Sparrow  10
Savannah Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
Spotted Towhee  2
Red-winged Blackbird  50

Posted by: atowhee | November 20, 2020

PEOPLE, STONES AND THIS PLANET

Decades after his death California poet, Robinson Jeffers, is suddenly the poet of out times. Building his home tower of native stone in Carmel-by-the=Sea a century ago Jeffers came to the belief that everything in the universe is god, and all of us from granite to garter snake to Grandma are simply small parts of that god. We hominids do not have favored species status in Jeffers understanding. Life and the planet are and will be, until it is exploded back into molecules in the expanse of the universe.

Back in September a piece appeared in Harper’s describes a visit to Tor House, hand-built by Jeffers and a stone-mason. The article reflects on how pertinent that Jeffers long ago warned that our species was pushing toward destruction of ourselves and others. Click here to read that piece.

I have seen many literary shrines from Dickens’ pub to Samuel Johnson’s home. From Oscar Wilde’s hotel for dying cafes where Hemingway and Joyce had eaten. Been to other homes once occupied by Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Isak Dinesen, George Sand, Jane Austen, Gilbert White, Jack London, Balzac, Goethe. I’ve been in the room where Churchill wrote his volumes of history, and a few miles away the room where Darwin researched and then wrote his revolutionary tomes. I’ve stood on the ramparts at Hamlet’s Castle and seen the jetty walked by The French Lieuntenant’s Woman. None of those places disappoint. None grab you by the heart as Tor House does and will until it falls into the sea.

I wrote a thank you note to the author of the Harper’s piece, Erik Reece:
“I read and nodded in agreement all through your piece on Jeffers and Tor House in the September Harper’s. Thank you for your work and insights.  Coincidentally I recently re-read a short Jeffers biography and begun revisiting his poetry.  Dead for decades he is yet a man of this hour.

“I hope any future writing or speaking you do about Jeffers you will acknowledge the Dark Mountain Project. It has been going for more than a decade now. I have no connection to the project beyond interest and sympathy. Jeffers was not only the source of Dark Mountain’s name but is clearly its poet laureate.

“In opening your fine essay you mention ‘grove of ancient cedars’.  Those were most likely Monterey cypress, a once rare and nearly extinct species.  When Europeans first came to California these trees were confined to two small forests at Pt. Lobos and Cypress Point near Carmel, and were found nowhere else.  This tree’s proclivity to thrive in terrible soil and harsh salt wind has long since made them a landscaper’s favorite in harsh coastal climates around the world. Wikipedia says, ‘Its European distribution includes Great Britain (including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands), France, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Sicily.  In New Zealand, plantings have naturalized, finding conditions there more favorable than in its native range. It has also been grown experimentally as a timber crop in Kenya’.”

Somehow I smile at the thought that Monterey cypress could become an invasive, a benign one I presume. They also have huge groves of coast redwood in New Zealand.

Then I included in my letter to Reece some of the material from the Dark Mountain website (click here to reach that).

HF: Dark Mountain is dark indeed, but then I have come to see the wisdom of Robinson Jeffers and these more contemporary writers…our species has overshot its ability to control its political and technological structures…I  now believe that the invention of the nation-state is WORSE than even nuclear weapons…it allows countries to hate one another and refuse to co-operate for the good of all….all being other creatures, plants, microbes, etc.  I think nature is coming for us without needy intention, simply as it tested trilobites and stegosaurus, we are not inevitable and we are not necessary but not many people can face up to that.

From website of Dark Mountain: “The Manifesto was written by Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine, it marked a first attempt to put into words the ideas and feelings which led to Dark Mountain. Think of it as a flag raised so that we can find one another. A point of departure, rather than a party line. An invitation to a larger conversation that continues to take us down unexpected paths.

“Together, we are walking away from the stories that our societies like to tell themselves, the stories that prevent us seeing clearly the extent of the ecological, social and cultural unravelling that is now underway. We are making art that doesn’t take the centrality of humans for granted. We are tracing the deep cultural roots of the mess the world is in. And we are looking for other stories, ones that can help us make sense of a time of disruption and uncertainty.

‘Rearmament”

These grand and fatal movements toward death: the grandeur of the mass
Makes pity a fool, the tearing pity
For the atoms of the mass, the persons, the victims, makes it seem monstrous
To admire the tragic beauty they build.
It is beautiful as a river flowing or a slowly gathering
Glacier on a high mountain rock-face,
Bound to plow down a forest, or as frost in November,
The gold and flaming death-dance for leaves,
Or a girl in the night of her spent maidenhood, bleeding and kissing.
I would burn my right hand in a slow fire
To change the future … I should do foolishly. The beauty of modern
Man is not in the persons but in the
Disastrous rhythm, the heavy and mobile masses, the dance of the
Dream-led masses down the dark mountain. —Robinson Jeffers, 1935

“The myth of progress is founded on the myth of nature. The first tells us that we are destined for greatness; the second tells us that greatness is cost-free. Each is intimately bound up with the other. Both tell us that we are apart from the world; that we began grunting in the primeval swamps, as a humble part of something called ‘nature’, which we have now triumphantly subdued. The very fact that we have a word for ‘nature’ is [5] evidence that we do not regard ourselves as part of it. Indeed, our separation from it is a myth integral to the triumph of our civilisation. We are, we tell ourselves, the only species ever to have attacked nature and won. In this, our unique glory is contained.

“Outside the citadels of self-congratulation, lone voices have cried out against this infantile version of the human story for centuries, but it is only in the last few decades that its inaccuracy has become laughably apparent. We are the first generations to grow up surrounded by evidence that our attempt to separate ourselves from ‘nature’ has been a grim failure, proof not of our genius but our hubris. The attempt to sever the hand from the body has endangered the ‘progress’ we hold so dear, and it has endangered much of ‘nature’ too. The resulting upheaval underlies the crisis we now face.”

Others have been nudged to realization by Dark Mountain. Here is link to a piece written several years ago by an American, thousands of miles from where Dark Mountain Project began, but, of course, its whole nature is global and not nationalistic.

Posted by: atowhee | November 20, 2020

HOT TIMES

I recently gave a talk for Salem Audubon Society on climate change and birds. I entitled it “Their Money or Your Life” because we’ve come to the crux of human survival. Can our governments and large corporations finally realize that money and economic value is a false god? We must openly admit that environmental consequences have to become more important than corporate profit, stock prices and executive bonuses.

CEOs and economists are notoriously anxious to maintain power and authority. They resent public health measures, and really hate environmental regs that might impinge on their “drill, baby, drill” ethics.

Click here to hear my climate change talk (file on youtube) and then forward to about 5 and one half minutes to avoid all the tech-related chaos as I try to understand Zooning a Power Point.

Posted by: atowhee | November 19, 2020

NAME GAME

Nov. 21–At least one correspondent has averred the projection of the tail is dangling feet. The debate continues, no general agreement.
Marty sent me this enhancement of his original image:

Comment on Nov. 20: “If you look closely at the photo, there seem to be one or two short central tail feathers that project beyond the rest of the tail feathers.  This would be consistent with a Parasitic Jaeger.  I think that the overall proportions of the bird (relatively heavy body and relatively short wings) are consistent with a jaeger.  I would expect that a Pomarine would show a white flash in the shafts of the  primaries, but that white flash isn’t always as apparent in a Parasitic.  The bill looks somewhat odd, but could potentially be consistent with a Parasitic. –Tim Janzen”

Update three hours after original posting: I told Marty Karlin that we were getting mixed opinions on his seabird, so he added these recollections: “This bird didn’t strike us as a petrel. It was seemingly too big. it was stocky relative to its longish wings.  It cruised without flapping much, a few feet off the water… There does appear to be lightness under the chin which is consistent with a short-tailed shearwater.”

And still later one OBOLer thought I was right about the jaeger in the first place: “the photo posted by harry is for me, at best, an impression – but not of a great-winged petrel.  a close look at the rump of the bird looks a tad lighter than the rest of the upper plumage.  it suggests the wavy barred rump on a subadult light-phase parasitic.”

Marty Karlin is an avid birder and photo maker from southern Oregon. Recently he was at the coast near Eureka and got this shot off a jetty on the edge of the Pacific. What, he asked? My surmise was Parasitic Jaeger…any other thoughts? Three fine seabirders say likely “Short-tailed Shearwater,” or ” Black-vented”–both are regular denizens of the nearshore Pacific and not given to huge Sooty-style flocks. Jeff Gilligan knows a helluva lot more about pelagic birds than I do and he surmises it could be Grey-faced or Great-winged Petrel…

Posted by: atowhee | November 18, 2020

MORE WATER=MORE DUCKS

An afternoon visit to Fairview Wetlands revealed deeper water and more ducks. There are increasing numbers of both individuals and species. A few days back the first divers were a quartet of Bufflehead, the next day there was a fifth. Today there were nine and I also saw the first Ring-necked Duck there this fall and a pair of Hooded Mergansers. Much of the marsh now has water with open surface, having submerged shorter plants, and the water level is about a foot below the top the encircling berms and nearly ready to top the water-control dams.

At the lake on south 22nd Street there is a flock of Ring-necks and a flock of Ruddy Ducks.

This includes Evening Grosbeaks in larger numbers than have been seen in decades. Click here for story.

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