Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wildlife Refuges

I believe that in another post I indicated that I had decided when I started this blog that I would not address politics. There are a gazillion blogs and other resources for politics, and they do it far better than I could ever hope to. However, on reflection, I'm going to amend my no politics rule, to read, unless it impacts or affects birding and nature.

I strongly believe that our national wildlife refuge system is one of the most wonderful assets of our country. A post over at Refuge Watch today torques my jaw sideways.

Back in 2003, the National Wildlife Refuge System celebrated its centennial anniversary with various events held around the country that showcased the amazing collection of 535+ refuges that formed the System. Many laudatory speeches were made at that time, including ones by former Secretary of Interior Gale Norton and President George W. Bush, during which they applauded the many benefits of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Now four years later, the Bush administration is pursuing its agenda to cut 565 jobs from the Refuge System — a 20% reduction — which will result in over 200 refuges having no staff at all and many visitor services and conservation programs ceasing to exist. (emphasis supplied)

This is a friggin' travesty. (yeah I know, why don't I say how I really feel about it?)

The article goes on to discuss the documented positive financial impact on the communities in the area of the wildlife refuges. The article ends by saying

Contact your representative and senators today, and remind them that you support a budget increase for the Refuge System. The annual increase that the Refuge System needs each year to keep up with inflation — $15 million — is what we spend in Iraq about every two hours. Americans can afford to invest more in this vital federal land system.

On my budget, and probably the budget of anyone reading this blog, $15 million sounds like a chunk of change. But in government spending it is less than the equivalent of whatever small change we might find in our pocket at any given moment.

I'll be calling my representative and senators in the morning, will you?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Local Paper

Presented in it's entirety from the Opinion Page of the Lincoln Journal Star

A spectacular success for the Platte River

Wednesday, Nov 14, 2007 - 12:13:28 am CST
Wildlife lovers in Nebraska have good reason to celebrate these days.

Efforts to restore habitat on the Platte River have provided an immediate and spectacular payoff.

Last year a 200-acre, mile-long stretch of the Platte River next to the Audubon Society’s Rowe Sanctuary near Gibbon was restored to its pre-dam condition.

Trees and other invasive plants were removed, river channels were reshaped and several bare nesting islands were created.

The work had been completed for only several weeks when three migrating whooping cranes roosted at the site, according to the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

This summer the stretch scored another important success when 10 pairs of least terns and two pairs of piping plovers nested on the islands. Least terns are an endangered species. Piping plovers are listed as threatened.

The two species had been squeezed out of their natural nesting grounds when low water flow allowed trees and vegetation to take root on the sand islands where they previously nested.

Wildlife officials said the nesting was the first in the central Platte in the past decade.

Another cause for elation this fall was the sighting of five whooping cranes on the Niobrara River. The group is one of the 250 whoopers that migrate from their breeding grounds in Canada to wintering grounds on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Whooping cranes are part of one of the world’s most spectacular wildlife events, the seasonal migration of hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes and other water fowl that draws thousands of tourists to Nebraska in the spring and fall.

One of the key stops on this journey is the central Platte River. A map of the central flyway migratory route looks like an hour glass, with the Platte River at the narrow part of the hour glass.

The restoration project used by the whoopers, least terns and piping plovers was part of the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project, which draws together a diverse group including farmers, hunters, birdwatchers in support of preserving the Platte River as a biologically unique landscape.

The project is funded by both private and public money, and covers last owned by nonprofit wildlife groups and private landowners.

“There’s not many examples nationally where you can take this federal money, match it with state and private money and boom, you’ve got a measurable result,” said Mark Humpert of the Game and Parks Commission.

Nebraskans can take pride at the recent victories in preserving the crucial Platte River stopping point for migrating birds. The success will be appreciated internationally.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Meet the Dawg

I've mentioned the dawg several times.... Her name is Mandy. She is 12+ years old. She's a Beagle......

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Difference A Knowledgeble Salesman Makes

I have never done, in the limited history of this blog, two posts in one day. But I guess I'm on a roll tonight. This post won't have anything to do with birds, or nature in general.

I've put up with an old clunky printer for quite some time. Couldn't print color with it for awhile because once upon a time I forced it to print a black and white document when the color cartridge was empty. I needed something printed and couldn't just run out and get a new color cartridge. After I replaced the cartridge, the printer told me in a rather nasty way that a head was broken. I love it when machines talk to me, thinking they are all-knowing.

A word about my present computer equipment is necessary to understand the rest of this monologue. My desktop is probably five or six years old. A dinosaur in many ways, but it was top of the line at the moment I bought it, and it has held up for far longer than I expected when I bought it. It has Windows XP. Wireless was not amongst it's capabilities. My internet connection is via the local cable company. I was the first kid on the block to have that kind of connection. My laptop is about six months old. It has Windows Vista. When I first brought the laptop home I was surprised to find I had a wifi connection. So I used it when I didn't want to settle in at the desktop. One day the connection disappeared. Apparently I was hacking into someone else's connection. So I got a router and had my own, which I protected so someone couldn't hack into my connection.

I have a little project that I want to do for my mother's upcoming birthday and I need a printer with color capabilities. I wanted a printer that I could use with both computers with a minimum of hassle. From a little reading on the subject, it sounded like a wireless printer would satisfy my needs. So off I went to see what there was to be had.

I stopped at one store just to check prices before I went on to where I always seem to end up buying my computer stuff. The clerk there said nopers, no way to use a wifi connected computer and a Ethernet connected computer on the same printer. I said hmmmm and headed down the road. Got to my usual store and the guy says the same thing. So, feeling defeated I was wandering around the computer area looking at gidgets and gadgets and saw something that looked like a flash drive that plugged into a USB port and purported to allow you to use it for a wireless connection. So I talked to another sales person. He says yuppers, just install the software and plug it in and your old computer is wireless. So I says does that mean that I can use a wireless printer with both computers? Yuppers, sure can.

I'm not a geek, just a dorky old dweeb. But because a salesperson knew the capabilities of the stuff in his department, I bought the wireless adapter and a wireless printer. If I had listened to the first two salespeople, I would have either come home empty handed, or with something that didn't meet my needs.

Tonight I have a laptop connected to a network, an old desktop connected wirelessly to that network AND a printer I can use with both computers. I guess the moral of the story is keep asking questions and most importantly, find a salesperson who knows what he/she is talking about.

Squaw Creek, Day Two

This is a belated post about the 2nd day at Squaw Creek. The day started out poorly. Took the dawg out for her morning constitutional and the door back into the motel wouldn't open. Had to put her in the car (she couldn't go in the lobby because the "continental breakfast" was there) and go to the front desk so they could open the back door. The rest of the day wasn't much better, and by the time we got home, both of us were very pleased to be there. In many ways it was a very forgettable day.

My last thought in the first post on Squaw Creek was that I had to do better taking more pictures. Well, I didn't. Don't remember ever taking so few pictures at a wildlife refuge.

Both days I heard and saw lots of Northern Cardinals. Most of them weren't interested in posing, but this guy did briefly

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These Great Egrets were sitting there so pretty until two cars went zooming past and they flew away. Fortunately, I had captured a couple of shots of them.

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The thing Squaw Creek is most well known for is the congregating Snow Geese in the latter part of November. They had already begun to congregate, though they certainly weren't there in the numbers they will be later in the month.

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All of the Squaw Creek photos are here.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Squaw Creek NWR

My original intent was to come down and spend at least two days in and around the area of Squaw Creek NWR. Then last weekend I had a budget busting visit by the dawg to the emergency vet clinic. I usually drop the dawg off at dawgie motel for these forays. In good conscience I could not take her out there, plus there was the budget busting factor. So I said oh well and forgot about it. Thursday night I decided she was well enough to come with me and called and made reservations at a motel for the two of us. She always used to come with me, but the last couple of years, as she's gotten older, she has seemed to not enjoy these jaunts. She has been really good and has appeared to enjoy the journey so far. (Phew)

It was a gorgeous day.

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Saw lot's of Northern Pintails

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I liked this photo of a Great Egret

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Didn't take many photos today...will have to do better tomorrow.

The rest of the days photos are here.