Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Remembering the New England Coast in Oil

I hail from New England and have a long standing relationship with it's coast and the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. I have walked many of it's beautiful beaches from Maine to Rhode Island and I have lived and vacationed in coastal areas with some of the most breath taking views you can imagine. I have counted hawks during their annual migration from the top of Cadillac Mountain overlooking Frenchman's Bay in Maine. I have whale watched 20 miles out to sea and visited very special places like Monhegan Island on a hot summer day. I have looked for puffins in summer off the Maine coast and bird watched in sub zero weather on the coast of Salisbury Massachusetts. All really special memories of really special people and places.

Why am I telling you about the wonderful times I spent in New England? Well I began to wonder what it would be like if the Deep Water Horizon was happening in that place that I spent most of my life. What if oil was washing over it's beaches and spoiling it's marshes, killing it's birds and devastating the whales and spoiling the Georges Banks where millions upon millions of fish live and breed? What if the oil continued to gush day after day and nobody seemed equipped to do anything about it. Thinking about the possibility that this could happen to my beautiful New England makes me shudder.

What makes me cry however is that it is happening to the Gulf of Mexico and to the people and the wildlife that call that beautiful place home. Thousands of wild creatures are dying horrible deaths, peoples lives and futures are being ruined, entire species are being herded toward extinction. Soon suicide rates will climb, illnesses will overcome clean up workers and the financial impact will grow for generations. A way of life is not dying it is being killed , murdered by the greed and avarice of a corporation that has a lousy safety record and a callous disregard for everything that makes our stay on this earth worthwhile.

BP is definitely the bad guy in all this but so is the culture in Washington that protects big business at all costs even though they repeatedly fail to do the right thing especially when it comes to our environment. Not only is the response to the spill woefully inadequate it is ineffective from the capping of the well to the skimming operations,to the so called "Booming".
Nothing that is being done at this moment is what anyone could call a success.

It's time for the Federal Government to seize complete control of the operations and to deploy all available resources including whatever foreign assistance is available.
FEMA should be directed to immediately begin to assemble the expertise and equipment to handle the next deep water "accident" including developing the next generation of technology needed to mount an effective spill response. Had anyone thought to prepare for this accident we would not be as helpless as we are today. It's time for government to take the lead and for scientists and entrepreneurs to step forward and make sure this never happens again.
I never want to see another Brown Pelican smothered in oil or dolphins dead and dying in their home due to the negligence of an industry that has plenty of money to prevent this from ever happening in the first place.

I also never, ever want to hear a clown like Joe Barton, Congressman from the 6th District in Texas apologizing to a company that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and forbidden to ever drill in US waters again. EVER!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Masked Bobwhite Quails

I was pleasantly surprised to find several Masked Bobwhite Quails in residence at the Sonoran Desert Museum just up the road from where I live. As Arizona's rarest bird which is protected by the Endangered Species Act it is very unusual to get a look at this elusive creature. The only confirmed place in Arizona that the Masked Bobwhite can be seen in the wild is Buenos Aries National Wildlife Refuge in the extreme southern part of the state.
I frequently travel to Buenos Aries and have had the good fortune to see one in the grasslands that is it's natural habitat. More facts about the Masked Bobwhite Quail can be found at:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Crested Caracara

We took a ride out to Kitt Peak this morning and arrived at the road to the observatory more than an hour before it officially opens for visitors so we decided to take a ride to Sells which is 20 miles to the west. It wasn't long before we saw a few turkey vultures circling just off the road. Then I saw what at first I thought might be an eagle, but it turned out to be a Crested Caracara, my first ever. After spending 30 minutes or so watching and photographing as best I could from a distance we headed off down the road. About 5 or 6 miles down the road we saw a second Caracara land in a tree. A great day!
Learn more about the Crested Caracara at:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is both striking and humorous to watch. It can be seen only in the extreme southern United States. More Information can be found at:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

American Kestrel

The American Kestrel is widely distributed throughout North and South America. This female raptor is approximately 20% larger than the male of the species. This Kestrel resides at the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson Arizona. You can learn more about the American Kestrel at:

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sarah Palin and BP

Sarah Palin blames me for the oil spill that is currently devastating the Gulf of Mexico. Extreme environmentalists like myself it seems are to blame for BP's lack of planning and ultimate failure to understand the consequences of drilling miles under the ocean floor and for not planning for the worst case scenario which has ultimately come to pass. Although not for the reasons that she espouses it pains me to say this but she might just be partially correct! In her limited mind we made them do it by protecting ANWR and other environmentally sensitive areas of our country. In my mind we let them do it to satisfy our unsustainable life styles that produce throw away crap made from oil and to continue to burn fossil fuels at a rate that is consuming our planet faster than we ever thought possible.
Vast areas of our oceans are covered in plastic. The Gulf of Mexico has a large dead zone where nothing can survive in a good year. Now that it is fowled in oil it is likely that millions of plants and animals will perish. The Gulf of Mexico will not recover in my life time or my daughters life time and it is likely that this spill will doom entire species. Man made disasters are everywhere and our failure to reduce fossil fuel consumption and green house gases is at the heart of many of them.
American complacency and pure all out avarice has led to our energy consumption dwarfing all other nations. We're not talking energy needs we're talking wasting gas and oil on a colossal scale. Our lack of insistence on environmentally sound sources of energy in favor of the old "drill baby drill" mentality as well as mountain top removal coal mining has fueled an environment where the Dick Cheney's and Sarah Palin's of the world control the dialog through fear of an enemy created by our dependence on dirty sources of energy. Let's face it for these people it's all about money and power and they could care less about the future of the United States of America. While they claim to be super patriots they continuously take positions that benefit corporations and their wealthy buddies over the interests of the people and the country.
It's time we woke up, rise up and demand alternative sources of energy but it is also time to reduce our energy consumption through an old fashioned conservation program of enormous magnitude. Perhaps it's time to stop spending huge sums of money on building roads we don't need for cars we shouldn't be driving and install energy efficient windows or help businesses to reduce their energy consumption, or support solar initiatives, maybe it's time we all just tried harder to not be such pigs in our lives. Imagine what is possible and ask yourself this simple question. Am I doing my part to save the planet or am I just pretending to make myself feel better?
The first step in saving this planet is to become informed. Joining an environmental organization is a good place to start so I encourage you all to sign up for Greenpeace or the Natural Resources Defense Council or any of the many fine groups that do the day to day hard work of saving the world from itself.
Step two is simple. Reduce, reduce, reduce!
Step three is DO SOMETHING FOR THE EARTH today and everyday.

Lets put the Sarah Palins and the BP's out of business. It's time for a new and bold future. It's time to let go of the old ideas and for America to become the alternative energy capital of the world.
Do we really want to continue to support companies like BP? Now is our time!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Madera Canyon

It was a beautiful day at Madera Canyon but we did not get a look at the Berylline Hummingbird as we had hoped. As is usually the case we did see some interesting birds including a Black Headed Grosbeak and a Blue Grosbeak, and several hummers. We did hear an Elegant Trogan but it was too far into the woods on private property so we were unable to track it. We talked to one birder who had seen several of the Trogans on one of the upper trails yesterday. Fortunately Madera is close to Tucson so we will have many chances to visit.

Berylline Hummingbird

Reports of a Berylline Hummingbird which is a rare visitor here have us preparing to head out to Madera Canyon this morning. I will report back later today. This would be very exciting for me.