It used to be that you needed guidebooks and an experienced friend to get up to speed on identifying a flash of wing through the trees. These days, however, newbie birders can become instant experts with technological tools like mobile apps. But how does technology change the nature of bird-watching? And what are the ethics pitfalls when finding a bird is so easy?
Upside to a down economy: less pressure on open space
One of the impacts of the economic recession over the last few years has been less interest in developing the Bay Area’s remaining open space.A new report released on Tuesday by Greenbelt Alliance finds that a down real estate market, combined with public policies to restrict growth, has led to a 20 percent drop in the amount of Bay Area land “at risk” for development, compared to six years ago.An estimated 77,300 acres is no longer in the immediate cross-hairs of developers and suburban planners, according to At Risk: The Bay Area Greenbelt 2012. And some 3 million acres total are now protected.
Solar spectacle on horizon
A partial solar eclipse will be lighting up Bay Area skies early Sunday evening, and as luck would have it the weather is supposed to cooperate.Between 5:16pm and 7:40 pm, the moon will pass in front of the sun in an alignment not seen in 18 years. During the annular solar eclipse, the moon will form a “black hole” in the center of the sun with sunbeams shooting out from the sides.
For the love of mom
Humans may be the only animals who celebrate Mother’s Day. But there’s no doubt that babies of other species are just as attached to their mamas, at least until they grow up. I like to think they also get a warm, fuzzy feeling when they think of the female who risked life and limb to bring them into the world and raise them fit enough to prosper. Happy Mother’s Day to California mamas of all feathers and fur, fins and … yes, even those with exoskeletons.
Occupiers restart debate on future of Gill Tract
On a typical spring day in early May at the Gill Tract, UC Berkeley agriculture researchers would be busy preparing for the summer research season.But this year, in a fenced-off field that usually grows experimental crops, a temporary encampment has sprung up. A group of students and others associated with the Occupy movement have rototilled the soil and planted their own vision of the future of farming.
Depicting conservation success stories
It’s easy to get depressed about the loss of biodiversity when every day, it seems, some new species pops up on a watch list like a death toll. But there are success stories that offer rays of hope in a world beset by climate change and habitat destruction. A new art exhibit opening on May 1 at the Tilden environmental education center in Berkeley showcases species that have made it back from the brink of extinction.
Conservatives attack Franciscan manzanita
The last remaining specimen of Franciscan manzanita is happily basking in the sun in an undisclosed location in the Presidio, apparently unaware that conservative talk radio has it out for its survival. Fanning the flames on government spending, shock-jocks are calling its 2010 rescue the “untold story of the year.”
Orphaned babies get helping hand
Springtime is the season for babies. They’re busy emerging into the world by whatever method they come — by hatch or by birth. With their arrival, some of the youngsters will also need help. The Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s rehabilitation center in Walnut Creek has about 200 babies under its wing right now and expects the number to shoot up even higher in the next couple weeks.
State park advocates hit capitol halls
California state parks advocates are hitting the halls of the Capitol on Tuesday to remind lawmakers that they won’t go away, even though many parks are closing come July. There is no savior bill for state parks on the horizon, not in a year when tax hikes and state budget deficits are on the table. Still, the conversation about the future of California’s 279 park system must continue, said Jerry Emory, spokesperson for the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF).
A bird’s eye view of new wind turbines in Altamont Pass
Wind power companies are taking a bird’s eye view in siting new turbines in the Altamont Pass.As a major re-powering effort gets underway to replace 50-year-old windmills with fewer and larger ones, the companies are making use of new techniques in risk mapping to avoid the numbers of raptor deaths that have become part of the political fabric of the Altamont Wind Resource Area.