Thursday, June 09, 2005

Red Flag For Red Knot

The Red Knot has one of the longest migration patterns, traveling from Tierra del Fuego on the southern tip of south America to the Arctic to nest during the brief summer months. Every year, millions of shorebirds including Red Knots, Sanderlings, and Ruddy Turnstones, stop off on the shores of the Delaware Bay on their way to the Arctic to breed, where they come to feed on the eggs of horseshoe crabs that spawn on the beaches at the same time of year. It is one of nature's great migration spectacles.

The Delaware Bay is their final "re-fueling" stop on the way north, where they beef up for the long flight ahead and put on extra weight for nesting, the birds need the crab eggs to sustain them through the remaining leg of their long migration north, some 4,000 miles.

Overharvesting of the crabs for use as bait in conch and eel pots has meant a less bountiful take for the birds which longterm could be detrimental to the species. A study conducted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection predicts the Red Knot could face extinction in 5 years, read the Reuter's story.

* Act now to help save the Red Knots
* Audubon calls for emergency action
* More info on Red Knott
* Help the count

Monday, June 06, 2005

Black Tie March

Photo by Jérôme Maison ©2005 Bonne Pioche Productions/Alliance De Production Cinematographique

"MARCH OF THE PENGUINS" - National Geographic Feature Films President Adam Leipzig introduces the premiere DC screening of the new National Geographic and Warner Independent Pictures documentary, "March of the Penguins," a story told by actor Morgan Freeman about emperor penguins as they embark on their annual migration to and from their Antarctic breeding grounds. Also participating is director of the film, Luc Jacquet, who lived in Antarctica for 13 months following and filming the penguins. Prior to the screening Sea World conducts an educational presentation with Magellanic penguins.

TONIGHT: Tuesday, June 7, 2005
Location: National Geographic Society, 1600 M St. NW.
Notes: Event starts at 6 p.m., film screening at 6:30 p.m.
Q & A follows the screening.
*Order Tickets
Free admission to the first 30 people wearing penguin attire

Friday, June 03, 2005

Preserves For Birds

Fraser Preserve
Courtesy: The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy’s preserves are set aside to protect natural plant and animal communities, including those of the winged variety. A map of preserves in the Maryland/DC Area can be seen here. Virginia's preserves are listed here.

Best for Birders:

Nanjemoy Creek provides a nesting home to one of the largest great blue heron colonies on the East Coast. Approximately 1,000 pairs of herons return each year on or around Valentine's Day to bring in the next generation of this species--the East Coast's largest wading bird, standing four feet tall with a six-foot wing span.

The Fraser Preserve boasts about 110 species of birds, including 39 nesting species and the bald eagle. Among the nesting birds are the red-shouldered hawk, ruby-throated hummingbird, downy woodpecker, scarlet tanager, and blue-gray gnatcatcher. There are also over 300 varieties of wildflowers. The natural habitats found in the Piedmont region, include clear fast streams, lush cold-spring swamp, marsh, mature hardwood forests, open meadow, ponds, river and stream floodplain forests and thickets, steep rocky bluffs, springs and seeps, and various stages of old field succession. The terrain slopes toward the Potomac River, which forms the northern boundary of the preserve.

At Helena's Island Preserve bird species far outnumber mammals and reptiles. Solitary sandpipers, ospreys, teal, mallards, and mergansers can be seen during the spring and fall migration. A number of species regularly visit or inhabit the island, including American redstart, northern parula, Carolina chickadee, green-backed heron and spotted sandpiper.

Blackwater River Preserve has one of the best remaining examples of an ancient baldcypress forest in the Southeast. Biologists estimate that some trees at this preserve are more than 800 years old. The prothonotary warbler as well as various other species pass through here.
Fernbrook Natural Area is an excellent example of a southern Piedmont forest in varying stages of succession. At an elevation of about 400 feet above sea level, the preserve includes examples of mature upland and lowland hardwood forests, a successional oak-pine forest, as well as a small tract of southern pines. Birds sighted here include the pileated woodpecker, ovenbird, scarlet tanager, ruby-throated hummingbird, and the red-tailed hawk. Bobcats have been known to wander through the area.

D.C. Bound:

Bear Island/Potomac Gorge, a natural monument in the shadow of national monuments, The Potomac Gorge—the 15-mile section of the Potomac River from above Great Falls south to Theodore Roosevelt Island—is one of the most significant natural areas in the entire National Park System. The Potomac Gorge site includes the well-known Billy Goat Trail- 2 miles of strenuous hiking. Access to the site is controlled by the National Park Service, who manages C&O Canal National Historical Park.

Ducks Going Postal

Artist Claremont Pritchard, 1968

In 1934, our nation discovered its natural bounty had limits as the continental population of waterfowl reached its lowest point in recorded history—approximately 27 million birds.

Through the Federal Duck Stamp Program, conservationists, artists, hunters and the federal government joined forces to conserve our country's natural resources.

Since 1934, revenues from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps have been used to acquire millions of acres of natural habitat for America's waterfowl in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The National Postal Museum has an exhibit of the stamps that have been part of the Federal Duck Stamp program at the Jeanette Cantrell Rudy Gallery. The exhibit explores the history of rare and collectible Federal Duck Stamps created as part of the conservation program. You can see the Postal Museum exhibit online.

Chesapeake Bay Sending Out S.O.S.

Blackwater at Dawn
National Geographic
Photograph by Peter Essick

Conservationists know what's wrong with the bay and how to fix it. They also know why it won't happen soon. The Chesapeake is sending out a distress call; oysters nearly gone, crabs near historic lows, waterman towns dying out, buildings and roads fracturing the countryside.

Population in the estuary's watershed, which includes parts of six states and the District of Columbia, has doubled in a generation, from 8 million to 16 million, compromising solitude as well as water quality. No one had illusions that the work of the Chesapeake Bay Program, a massive federal-state restoration effort, begun in 1983 and unmatched anywhere in the world, would be quick or easy. But no one anticipated that 22 years later it would still be struggling. National Geographic features the Bay's struggle.

Interactive Map of the Chesapeake.

Swimming At Their Own Risk In East Baltimore
National Geographic
Photograph by Peter Essick