ScienceDaily reported on a study on the use of flowers for pest control. It was found that the flower Sweet Alyssum was effective in controlling aphids. Several flowers were considered but Sweet Alyssum was chosen because its nectar attracted the greatest number of hoverflies, who have larvae that feed on aphids. Learn more at: Flower power fights orchard pests.
Planet Earth Online discussed a recent report that had input from many of the UK’s top environmental scientists, which documented that many species are now found further north and at higher altitudes than in previous decades. Climate change may also be making it easier for species from foreign shores to invade, often to the cost of native wildlife. Learn more at: Climate change already affecting UK wildlife.
media release from the American Bird Conservancy
Hawai’i May Face Federal Prosecution Over Bird and Other Wildlife Deaths
Light Pollution from Certain Street Lights Causing Fatal Attraction
|Newell’s Shearwater by Jim Denny, kauaibirds.com|
(Washington, D.C., May 22, 2013) The Federal Government has warned the State of Hawai’i that it should either enter a plea agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) or face criminal prosecution, including possible jail time, in connection with the deaths of a large number of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and other wildlife caused by the continued use of certain street lights that are attracting the wildlife and ultimately causing their deaths.
According to a January 2013 state government memo from Deputy Attorney General Laura Kim, on December 20, 2012, the DOJ notified the Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT) of a multi-year investigation of DOT lights that are causing unlawful take (killing) of birds protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), as well as turtle and moth species protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Although DOJ stated that the investigation is statewide, the priority is on Oahu where DOJ claims a considerable number of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, which are protected by the MBTA, have been injured by DOT lights.
press release from Center for Biological Diversity
California Denies Protections to Tiny, Climate-threatened Mammals
Wildlife Agencies Downplay Urgency of Climate Crisis in Refusing to Protect Pika
Under California Endangered Species Act
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The California Fish and Game Commission voted today to deny protection to the American pika under the California Endangered Species Act despite grave threats from global warming. Today’s decision comes in response to a scientific petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2007 urging the state to protect the tiny, temperature-sensitive alpine mammal from climate change.
“This short-sighted decision may put these vulnerable little animals on the path to extinction,” said Shaye Wolf, the Center’s climate science director. “The state’s own analysis shows worrisome losses of pikas in drier, hotter parts of California and predicts that global warming will make many areas unlivable for pikas in this century. Our wildlife agencies should acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis and protect vulnerable species like the pika before it’s too late.”
Henry Coe State Park has a new wildflower bloom update today at the Pine Ridge Association website. To see what is in bloom including photos of flowers in bloom go to: Henry W. Coe – Wildflower Guide.
Press Release from Defenders of Wildlife.
Gray wolves get more time to recover
Feds delay national delisting proposal indefinitely
WASHINGTON (May 21, 2013) – The Associated Press reported yesterday that an anticipated proposal from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to strip protections for gray wolves nationwide has been delayed indefinitely.
The following is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife:
“The report of an indefinite delay is a very positive sign that the Obama administration is rethinking its rash decision to strip vital protections for gray wolves nationwide. Hopefully, this means that Secretary Jewell has taken to heart the outpouring of opposition to this premature delisting proposal. Many Americans want to see the continued recovery of gray wolves in key parts of their historic range that have excellent wolf habitat. But wolves need federal protection to give them the best chance of recovering in places like Colorado, Utah and northern California, where there currently are no wolves.
“We remain concerned that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is prepared to give up on wolf recovery too soon. Let’s be clear: their job is not yet finished. Gray wolves still only occupy a small portion of available habitat, and having minimal populations in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes is not good enough.
Press Release from Golden Gate Audubon Society
Lawsuit Against Highway Agencies Targets Deaths of Migratory Swallows
Deadly Netting in Petaluma Has Killed, Injured More Than 100 Swallows
SAN FRANCISCO— Conservation and animal protection groups filed a lawsuit Friday against the California Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration for causing and allowing the deaths of migratory cliff swallows nesting under bridges at a highway widening project in Petaluma, Calif. The agencies refuse to remove deadly netting installed at bridge overpasses as part of a Caltrans highway-widening project along Highway 101 in the Marin-Sonoma Narrows. The netting has killed and injured more than 100 swallows in a one-month period.
“Incompetence and indifference by Caltrans is killing swallows that have just travelled 6,000 miles to return to a traditional nesting site, which the agency should have known about,” said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Caltrans continues to say the problem is fixed, but the netting is ineffective and deadly. There are better ways to discourage birds from nesting at a construction site.”
The BBC reported on efforts by wildlife charities in the UK for tighter regulations to save seabirds from being harmed by a chemical used by the shipping industry. A recent spill of polyisobutene (PIB), which is used as a lubricant in ships engines has affected 4000 seabirds. Currently, it is legal to discharge small amounts of PIB. Wildlife conservation groups are joined by the industry group, the UK Chamber of Shipping, in their call for tighter regulations.
Read more at: BBC News – Shipping chemical ‘unsafe for birds’
Washington Trails Association has a number of new wildflower bloom reports. Here are a few of the most recent excerpts:
Kraus Lake May 20, 2013 Southern Cascades
beautiful old growth forest with abundant spring wildflowers
Fifteenmile Creek Railroad Grade, Hidden Forest, Tiger Mountain Trail, High Point Creek May 20,2013 Issaquah Alps Tiger Mountain
The footpath itself remains narrow, encroached on both sides by very moist plants: bleeding heart, vanilla leaf, waterleaf, fringe cup, salmon berry, tall wild grasses
Robinson Canyon – Ainsley Canyon May 20, 2013 Eastern Washington Yakima
Flowers galore, meadows, rolling green hills, thin forest, birds chirping, butterflies, lupine/pine scented air.
The Chelsea Flower show has FINALLY ended its ban on garden Gnomes. In a break with tradition and in honor of its 100th anniversary the flower show is going to have 100 gnomes many painted by celebrities make an appearance. At the end of the show the gnomes will be auctioned off on ebay and the money will go to the Campaign for School Gardening. As you might gather I am a fan of garden gnomes having three in my own garden. Read more at National Geographic There's a Gnome at the Bottom of Your Garden.
The Tehachapi News had a wildflower report for Bear Valley Springs today. To see the article go to: Pen in Hand: Despite a dry year, some wildflowers have thrived … – TehachapiNews.com. Here is a short excerpt:
One place that had some good displays this year despite the lack of rain and snow is Bear Valley Springs, especially on the valley floor, where California Poppies, Cream Cups, Pygmy-leaved Lupines and others have been blooming in profusion.
press release from American Bird Conservancy
Conservation Groups Call for Increased Protections for Rapidly Declining Seabird
In a letter sent today, over 100 conservation and scientific organizations are calling on the Obama administration to provide new protective measures for the Marbled Murrelet, a federally listed bird species whose population is rapidly declining.
The letter asserts that the “accelerated decline of this species is an indication that current protections for its old-growth forest habitat need to be augmented, benefitting clean air, clean water, wild salmon runs, carbon sequestration, and other ecosystem services uniquely provided by these irreplaceable forests.”
A recent peer-reviewed study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S.D.A. Forest Service found that the Marbled Murrelet’s population in California, Oregon, and Washington State had declined by 29 percent over the last decade. This trend is consistent with the government’s 2009 five-year status review of the species, which concluded the population could be extinct outside of the Puget Sound area within 100 years.
“More needs to be done. These findings indicate that current efforts to eliminate threats and protect habitat are not enough to bring this species back,” said Steve Holmer, senior policy advisor for American Bird Conservancy, a leading bird conservation group. “Additional habitat protection, acquisition of new forest reserves, and improved recreation management offer hope for its eventual recovery.”
Murrelet habitat on state and private lands continues to be lost to logging. One study (Falxa et al) documented a 30 percent loss of murrelet habitat on nonfederal lands within the tri-state range between 1996 and 2006. That same study recognized timber harvest as the primary cause of habitat loss on nonfederal lands.
Proposed changes to the Northwest Forest Plan have also left the species’ habitat more vulnerable to disturbance. The final 2012 Northern Spotted Owl critical habitat rule encourages logging in owl-critical habitat, which, in part, overlaps with that of the murrelet. Agency analysis included in the owl rule’s draft environmental assessment indicates that such management practices would likely be harmful to the Marbled Murrelet. Logging—both clearcutting and commercial thinning—increases fragmentation, opening the forests to nest predators such as crows, ravens, and jays.
“To conserve the murrelet, a plan is needed that will protect the remaining habitat and prevent fragmentation in nearby forests to minimize predation and nest disturbance,” said Holmer. “These steps would offer hope for the Marbled Murrelet, and help to preserve an ancient forest legacy for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations of Americans.”
Oregon Wildflowers had the following report for Cape Horn in the Columbia River Gorge for 5/19/13
It’s a fantastic time to visit this beautiful trail, especially for the Poison Larkspur (Delphinium trolliifolium), which is EVERYWHERE. Also blooming are: Candyflower (Claytonia sibirica), Pacific Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum tenuipes), False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum), Fairy Lantern (Disporum smithii), Piggy-back Plant (Tolmiea menziesii), Fringecup (Tellima grandiflora). Starry Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum stellatum), Pacific bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa), Western Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza occidentalis), Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis), Inside-Out Flower (Vancouveria hexandra), Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), False Lily of the Valley (Maianthemum dilatatum), Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa), Wood Violet (Viola glabella), Sticky Cinquefoil (Potentilla glandulosa), Queen’s Cup (Clintonia uniflora), and Columbia Windflower (Anemone deltoidea).
Read all reports at Oregon Wildflowers.
Audublog reported that the California State Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to approve the Big Basin State Park General Plan and Final Environmental Impact Report without safeguards for the critically endangered Marbled Murrelet. This ignored objections by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Center for Biological Diversity, Audubon California, two Audubon chapters, and thousands of letters from concerned citizens. Learn more at Audublog ~ State Parks lets down people of California with bad decision for marbled murrelets.
News Release from Yosemite National Park: Half Dome Cables in Yosemite National Park in Place on Friday, May 24 – Yosemite National Park.
Date: May 20, 2013 The cables on Half Dome in Yosemite National Park will be in place and open for the season on Friday, May 24, 2013, weather permitting. The cables provide access to the summit of Half Dome, one of Yosemite’s most popular hikes.
Visitors are required to have a permit to ascend the Half Dome cables seven days per week. The majority of the permits were distributed through a lottery system that ended in March. However, approximately 50 permits per day are available through a two day in advance lottery. Visitors without a Half Dome permit wishing to hike the cables may enter the lottery two days in advance of their planned day hike by visiting www.recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. For more information regarding the lottery and the Half Dome cables, please visit www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/halfdome.htm.
Henry Coe State Park has a new wildflower bloom update today at the Pine Ridge Association website. To see what is in bloom including photos of flowers in bloom go to: Henry W. Coe – Wildflower Guide.
The BBC reports that nesting cranes have laid the first egg in southern Britain in more than 400 years. Credit goes to the Great Crane Project who has reared cranes and reintroduced them to the West Country since 2010. The egg, is under round-the-clock guard by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT).
Learn more at: BBC News – First crane egg in 400 years laid at Slimbridge.
Press Release from EarthJustice
Conservationists Argue for Protection of Arizona National Monuments
Conservationists went before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today, in a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice challenging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) initial management plan for the Vermilion Cliffs and Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monuments. The five conservation and historic preservation groups represented by Earthjustice seek to enforce the presidential proclamations creating these monuments, which require BLM to protect the monuments’ wildlife, scenic landscapes, solitude, and vast cultural resources, and which prohibit motor vehicle use off roads.
Tonight when I went out to dump the recycling and garbage there was an explosion of Wavy-leafed Soap Plant in my front yard. Our front yard is mostly a California native plant garden. The Soap Plant was planted several years ago and has been getting progressively better each year. Tonight it just exploded. There are many flowers in bloom on the four to six-foot stems. Wavy-leafed soap plant only open in the late afternoon or evening, remaining open during the night but closing by the morning. Each flower only blooms for one day, but there are many buds on each stem. Pollination is by evening or night-flying insects. Wavy-leafed soap plant is a bulb that typically grows on rock bluffs, grasslands, chaparral, and in open woodlands. The fibers surrounding the bulb were widely used, bound together, to make small brushes. Extracts of the bulbs could also be used as a sealant or glue.
John Wall just posted a report on a recent trip through the Yosemite High Country and to Mono Lake. He found wildflowers, a bear and did some nice nighttime and landscape photography . In bloom were Dogwoods, Lupine, Shooting Stars, Snow Plant, Mt. Pride, Phacelia bicolor and the tiny pink Monkeyflower (Mimulus nanus), that I usually see in July. Check out his photos and posting at: John Wall’s Natural California: Goin’ Up The Country.
Joe Willis’s blackoaknaturalist blog has two new wildflower reports with photos on his findings in the Oakland Camp area in Plumas County. Flowers found included Lady’s Slipper Orchid, Wild Hyacinth,Spanish Clover, Blue Gilia, Yarrow, Fare-well-to-Spring,Western Dog Violet, False Solomon’s Seal, Maclosky’ Violet, Red Larkspur, Sticky Cinequefoil, Orchard Morning Glory,Rose Clover and Diamond Clarkia. See his posts with more information and photos at:
blackoaknaturalist: In the Vicinity of Berry Creek
blackoaknaturalist: Friday’s Outing, Part 2
Oregon Wildflowers has a new wildflower update for the Columbia River Gorge for Lyle Cherry Orchard:
The Panicled Death-Camas (Zigadenus paniculatus) has gone to seed but there are still a number of wildflowers in bloom, especially at the higher elevations: Taper-tip Onion (Allium acuminatum), Ball-head Cluster Lily (Brodiaea congesta), Scouler’s Hawkweed (Hieracium scowler var. scowler), Heart-leaf Buckwheat (Eriogonum compositum var. compositum), Columbia Frasera (Frasera albicaulis var. columbine), Columbia Gorge Broad-leaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius var. thompsonianus), and profuse Velvet Lupine (Lupinus leucophyllus) near the end of the trail.
See all their reports at: Oregon Wildflowers
Audublog reported that the sixth annual Owens Lake Big Day set a new record by A LOT. This year 114,999 birds were counted which left the record set last year of 75,000 in the dust. There were especially a lot of shorebirds this year including 20 species and a total 65,524 shorebirds. 15,500 Eared Grebes were counted this year.
Although the total number of birds counted ha sbeen increasing, the number of species counted has declined. It is believed this is due to the habitats created on the lake as a result of dust control have matured and are more suitable for some species but not others.
The is now a real-time webcam that streams Yosemite Falls. There are also El Capitan, Half Dome, and the High Sierra webcam images uploaded every 30 seconds. The webcams are all provided courtesy of the Yosemite Conservancy. Here is the link: Yosemite webcams | Yosemite Conservancy.
BBC Nature reports that due to the second-coldest March on record many rare butterflies in the UK have delayed their emergence, according to the charity Butterfly Conservation.
- Pearl-bordered Fritillary last year first spotted on 1 April but were not recorded until 27 April this year.
- Wood Whites could be seen by 10 April last year, but this year were delayed until early May.
- Duke of Burgundy butterfly appeared in late April this spring, about three weeks later than last year.
The total number of butterflies are down this year as last year after most butterflies emerged (earlier than usual due to a mild February and March) there was a lot of very wet weather which prevented the Butterflies from flying and finding mates. The Butterflies emerging late this year isn’t necessarily problematic if the weather conditions are drier and support a successful breeding season. Learn more at: BBC Nature – UK’s rare spring butterflies make a late show.
I was traveling around Marin yesterday with more out-of-town visitors. Another visit to Muir Woods had two new highlights from last week. Clintonia andrewsiana is now blooming and a Great Blue Heron landed on a log crossing the creek and seemed unconcerned by the visitors, providing good looks for many. Many of the same birds and flowers from last week were still present from my earlier post Marin County Observations 5/12/13. Pacific Wrens were especially vocal yesterday.
- Marin County Observations 5/12/13 (naturalhistorywanderings.com)
The San Diego Zoo just published a video of twin mountain gorilla babies rolling and playing in the rain forest of Rwanda. The video is by Oliver Ryder, Ph.D. at Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda earlier this year. You can see it at: Researcher Captures Rare Footage of Wild Baby Gorillas Playing in Rwanda – YouTube.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has the following new wildflower and trail updates:
What a crazy Spring it has been. Recently everyone has been working on the fire so a lot of our regular business has been put on hold. Safety concerns keep the trails in the burn area closed until the situation can be fully assessed. Don’t forget that this is not only about your safety but also that the environment is very fragile right now. It may look like just some burned-out moonscape but how it recovers next year will depend on how we treat it now. Thoughtless footprints through the burn (so very tempting now that everything is wide open and in plain view) can have a negative impact that will last for years. My “tread lightly” solution has always been to look at things, even things close by, with a pair of binoculars. I always buy my binocs with close-focusing characteristics so I can get a close-up view of flowers even when only a few feet off trail. They are a little more expensive than the typical pair but they have helped me avoid needlessly trampling things for years. Not only that they significantly reduce my risk of exposure to things like poison oak, ticks, and rattlesnakes by keeping me on-trail.
As you probably know things remain excruciatingly dry. That said you can find flowers but you will need to use your “Summer” flower hunting skills to find them. The clarkias and other late season flowers are doing OK in some locations but a lot of reliable sites look pretty barren. Other plants we typically expect to still be blooming have prematurely withered. I’ve noticed that many plants that did flower this year did not have enough resources left over to produce seeds. For example, it appears we’ve essentially lost the entire shooting star seed crop at many locations. Here at CXR we did the piece of the backbone trail south of Yerba Buena a couple weeks ago and it had some sparse but nice displays on it. There are other sheltered trails worth exploring. Let us all know what else you have been seeing.
Red Rock Canyon 05/15/13
I went to Red Rock Canyon off of Old Topanga Road because it often has magnificent displays of spring flowers. This year is not its best showing, or possibly it flowered much earlier. The creek is completely dry and there are not dense banks of flowers as there often are but it is still worth a visit. There are many farewell-to-spring and elegant clarkia mixed with live-forever and few fading larkspur blossoms. The most exciting blooms are the large yellow mariposas. There are also slender sunflowers. ‑ Dorothy Steinicke
Upper Zuma Backbone Trail, Encinal Canyon about half way to Kanan Dume 05/11/13
We saw, elegant clarkia, California poppy, white chaenectus, California thistle, Spanish clover, Chinese houses, blue larkspur, yucca, purple clarkia, California buckwheat, black sage, chemise, popcorn (two kinds), sticky monkey flower, cinquefoil, heart-leaved penstemon, cliff aster, black mustard, marsh parsley, bird’s beak, deer weed, golden yarrow, and globe lilies. Nearby at the creek we saw creek monkey flower, annual paintbrush, Red-skinned onion, Canchalagua, Checker bloom, and Water Speedwell.
See Older Reports at: What’s Blooming.
The BBC reported on how changes in climate have resulted in migratory ducks moving their wintering grounds north. Studies of the tufted duck, goosander and goldeneye show that they are staying closer to their summer breeding areas all year round. The northern end of their migration in Sweden and Finland, had approximately 130,000 more of the ducks in 2010 than in 1980. The southern end of their migration in Britain, France, Ireland and Switzerland has seen a drop in the number of these ducks during this time period of about the same amount.
Theodore Payne has anew wildflower updates. Below are some excerpts. See full report, photos an older reports at Wildflower Hotline.
The wildflower season is rapidly fading in the lower elevations, but travel above 3500 feet in our local mountains, and you will be delighted with the variety of species taking advantage of the cooler climate and residual moisture from snow melt.
A segment of the Pacific Crest Trail in the San Gabriel Mountains between Little Rock Creek Road and Pacifico Mountain is inviting enthusiastic botanists to explore the area. The diversity is great, the numbers of flowering plants is low, so take your time and search for the little beauties. The most colorful trail species include pink splendid gilia, (Saltugilia splendens ssp. splendens), interior goldenbush (Ericameria linearifolia), the Mojave ceanothus (Ceanothus vestitus), flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum), mountain currant (Ribes nevadense) and bush lupine (Lupinus excubitus ssp. austromontanus). Scattered about, you may spot Burlew’s wild onion (Allium burlewii), rock buckwheat (Eriogonum saxatile), Martin’s paintbrush (Castilleja applegatei var. martinii) and silver puffs (Uropappus lindleyi). A more intense search will reward you with canyon dudleya (Dudleya cymosa ssp. pumila) wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), scalebud (Anisocoma aculis) and rock cress (Boechera californica). This part of the trail is well maintained and rises from 5300 feet to 7100 feet in elevation.