Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Milwaukee BIOME Project

The Milwaukee BIOME Project held its annual spring workshop for 2010 at the Urban Ecology Center on Sunday, April 18th. BIOME is an expansion of MCAMMP - the Milw. Co. Avian Migration Monitoring Partnership. Presentations were given by Brian Russart on the Milwaukee County Natural Areas program, Owen Boyle on 164 Years of Vegetation Change in Milwaukee County, Dave Redell on the Wisconsin Bat Monitoring Project, Tim Vargo on MCAMMP's and UEC's bird banding station and the UEC's environmental education efforts, and Bill Mueller on the BIOME Project, and its emerging outgrowth from MCAMMP. Thanks to the presenters, BIOME's science team, volunteers, and the workshop attendees, plus J. Paul White and Loren Ayers from WDNR for their input and assistance this year.
The Milwaukee BIOME Project and MCAMMP will continue its research on avian stopover ecology in Milwaukee County, and begin bat monitoring this year, to be followed by research on invertebrates and other taxa. If you'd like to learn more about the BIOME project, go to the webpage.

Friday, April 23, 2010

updates from IUCN, Worldwatch

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, "helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges." Learn more about their activities at their website. Find out about their initiatives in these areas:
Climate change
Sustainable energy
Human well-being
Green economy

Also - find out about the activities of The Worldwatch Institute at their website. Recent news includes information on how Wildlife Conservation Offers Economic Benefits for Zimbabwe Farmers. Worldwatch focuses on the themes of people, nature, economy, and energy - learn morre through their excellent publications and online information.

Friday, April 16, 2010

alternative birding and conservation news

Read information about the American Bird Conservancy's conservation birding initiative at this link.

Recent news from Partners in Flight is at their website, linked here.

More items from the Boreal Songbird Initiative are here.

Some new information resulting from the research activities of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology is on their site.

News from the Institute for Bird Populations is here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

near the roost

At about 7:00 pm last Monday night, we were encamped in the upland forest in Lake of the Ozarks State Park in west-central Missouri. Not far away - less than 70 meters from our position - a few Turkey Vultures came in and settled for their night roost. At first, we thought that would be it - but as the minutes passed, more and more came into a group of four or five large canopy trees. By the time it was almost dark, nearly 90 birds had chosen this site for their nocturnal resting place. Other than a few wing flaps during the first few minutes of settling down, they made no sound. At about 6:15 am the following morning, they started leaving in groups of 3 to 10 or more, with one large exodus of about 25 birds. Birds were still leaving at about 7:30 am. I had never spent that much time near a large roosting concentration. Very much gravitas.

colors of an Ozark spring

The colors of an Ozark spring are spectacular, from the pink of Wild Pink Silene caroliniana, to the more radical pink of the many thousands of Redbuds (Cercis canadensis), to the extraordinary blue of the Blue Spring. This amazing body of water puts forth 90 million gallons of water on average every day! At 300 feet, it is Missouri's deepest spring. It flows into the Current River, in Shannon County.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Missouri Ozarks spring travels, part 1

Among our favorite sites during the past week in Missouri was Elephant Rocks state natural area near Belleview. The area of huge granite boulders encompasses a number of "tinajitas" - natural depressions that collect water, like the large one shown here.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

crossing the Mississippi

It's early April, and we set out to travel southward and westward in search of some early spring flowers and migrant birds. At Chester, Illinois, we crossed the "big river" into Missouri. A theme that recurred day after day was the unfolding of spring flowers - at least multiple days or even 2 weeks ahead of the flora at home in southeastern Wisconsin. That's no surprise, of course. So this is "the year of two spring seasons" for us.
Another recurring theme: no Tree Swallows. In six days, I never saw a single Tree Swallow in southern Illinois or all of Missouri, although I did note a few Purple Martins in southwest Illinois, a few N. Rough-winged Swallows in the Ozarks, and a few Barn Swallows in a wide variety of locations. What is the answer to the missing Tree Swallows? More on that in the coming few posts, plus other scenes and notes on flora, fauna, landscape, and history. The Mississippi River is a geographic and perhaps a psychological point of focus...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

the study of natural history and its place in conservation

Yes, I know it's April 1st, but I'm not fooling around - this post actually does deal with a serious topic. Ecology has shifted away from the study of natural history in many ways. But see this editorial in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology.

The citation for the article is:

Villard, M.-A., and T. D. Nudds. 2009. Whither natural history in conservation research?. Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux 4(2): 6. [online] URL:

Best wishes to you all for a good month ahead. I'll be gone for a while - looking for early wildflowers and early migrants about 6-700 miles south/southwest of my current location.