Tuesday, May 31, 2005

5,000 Gulls to be Shot

Transportation officials thought they were doing a good thing when they provided a nesting area along a major highway for several threatened species of birds. But after five years, the nests have attracted more than just terns and black skimmers. The birds' predators _ sea gulls _ have come out in droves and are crashing into cars on Interstate 64, which connects southeastern Virginia to the mainland.

Last summer, up to 60 gulls died on the highway every day.

Concerned about the potential for serious car accidents, the state Department of Transportation has called on wildlife officials to shoot some of the 5,000 gulls on the south island of I-64's Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. The road carries more than 100,000 cars a day during peak summer months. More from The Washington Post.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Woodpecker Once Thought Extinct Found Alive And Well

The ivory-billed woodpecker, once prized for its plumage and sought by American Indians as magical, was thought to be extinct for years. Now it's been sighted again and conservationists are exulting.

The striking bird, last seen in 1944, has been rediscovered in the Big Woods area of Arkansas, scientists and conservationists reported in late April.

Since early 2004 there have been several independent sightings, including one caught on videotape, of one or more of the birds, Fitzpatrick said.

That video of the bird's 3-foot wingspan and distinctive black-and-white markings confirmed the presence of the creature that seemed to have vanished after logging destroyed its habitat.

The ivory-billed woodpecker, one of the largest such birds in the world, is one of six North American bird species thought to have become extinct since 1880. The bird ranged widely across the southeastern United States at one time.

Once sought by Indians who believed that its bill possessed magical powers, the bird also was hunted for its feathers so they could adorn women's hats. Loss of habitat was its main threat, however.

Washington Post Articles:
*Woodpecker Thought Extinct Rediscovered
*Ark. Man Recalls Finding Rare Woodpecker
*Extinct? After 60 Years, Woodpecker Begs to Differ
*Rare Woodpecker's Home Remote, Dangerous
*Delta Towns Hope Woodpecker Brings Riches
* Ark. Bird Festival Revamped for Woodpecker

*Tim Gallagher, author, The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
The Nature Conservancy:

Naturalist Walk In Rock Creek Park

Early May is an exciting time for bird enthusiasts. It's when thousands of migratory birds fly through the Washington area, and help usher in the warm weather with their unique calls and songs. WAMU's Sarah Hughes accompanied the Audubon Naturalist Society's Stephanie Mason on a walk through Rock Creek Park, to seek out some of these newly arrived visitors.

The Naturalist Society conducts a free walk for beginning birders every Saturday morning.

Listen to the walk through the park on NPR.

For more information, visit Audubon Naturalist Society website.

Field Trip To Bombay Hook And Little Creek May 14th

On Saturday May 14, 2005, DC Audubon will take a field trip to Bombay Hook NWR to see the phenomenal migration of shore birds. This trip is a great opportunity to see thousands of sandpipers, plovers and avocets. One birder beautifully referred to this field trip, as “essential to truly enjoy the annual spectacle of migration” and when “birder’s hopes…are renewed every year at this time.”

Directions and tentative spots to visit:
Directions: From the DC area, get on Rte. 50 heading east. Cross the Bay Bridge. Once on the Eastern Shore, take Rte. 301 northeast (this splits off from Rte. 50). Go about 34 miles from this point and turn right on Rte. 300.which runs east through farmland. Go 15 miles to Kenton, Delaware. At the traffic light in Kenton go right on Del. 42, which ends after 9 miles in Leipsic, crossing Rte. 13 en route. (Be very careful in Delaware, there are lots of speed traps in these towns). Go left (north) in Leipsic on Rte. 9 1.5 miles to the Bombay Hook entrance sign and turn right. We will meet at the Visitor's Center.

After Bombay Hook, we will head south to Little Creek and in the town take a left at the Post Office onto Port Mahon Rd. The next stop farther south will be to Pickering Beach which is a few miles south and a left off of Rte. 9 onto Pickering Beach Rd.

If you have a car and can help carpool, please let me know. If you need a ride, please let me know that as well, so I can try to make sure everybody who needs a ride has one. For carpooling, we will meet at the Bread and Chocolate cafĂ©/bakery on Capitol Hill at the corner of 7th and Pennsylvania Ave SE at 7 am. If you prefer to meet at Bombay Hook, we should be at the Visitor’s Center by 10 am. We will caravan from one place to the next over the course of the day.

Sunscreen and insect repellent will certainly add to your birding pleasure in these marshy areas. Lunch or snacks and plenty of water are a good idea, too.

If you plan to come or need more information call me at 202-277-1365 or e-mail me at mikekaspar@aol.com.