Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Western Screech-Owl family

Last night I found a family of Western Screech-Owls but it was already dark and all I got were a couple of cellphone pics (pretty good for cellphone camera pics in the dark). Tonight I returned earlier so I could get a few photos at dusk when they came out and with my Sony hx-300 digital camera so photos better.
The first photo is of an adult bird while the second and third are of a young bird that from it's flying ability was fairly recently fledged. I have seen a total of 3 of these cute little owls-one an adult, one a fledgling and haven't seen the third well enough to guess age. This would be a small family group with adult being a parent showing young how to hunt,etc. I have seen them hunting moths, a common target for these little guys.
The last photo shows 2 of these little 8 inch owls, one mostly hidden behind this big downed tree trunk. (note: it is my personal policy to not reveal locations of owls). SeEtta

Sunday, June 29, 2014

8 Mile Fire: airdrops of flame retardant that is can be toxic to water, wildlife and the environment

The eastern edge of the 8 Mile Fire is on steep mountain areas a few miles from several homes that were built in the forest-urban interface-the area that firefighters call the 'stupid zone' because it is at risk from the natural cycle of wildfires that has occurred long before man arrive.
As useful as this fire retardant is in keeping the fire from spreading across where it has been dropped, it is an environmental pollutant that has killed fish and other species.
And article about the debate over even the effectiveness of this flame retardant 'slurry' adds: "These compounds are also used in agricultural fertilizers. That, according to several researchers, is precisely the problem: When dumped into a wilderness area, these fertilizers stimulate the growth of certain weedy, fast-growing plants that outcompete slower-growing plant species, some of which are rare or endangered. Additionally, if these compounds find their way into a stream or lake, the fertilizers can kill off fish and other aquatic species, causing a harmful algal bloom. These events reduce the amount of oxygen in a body of water and encourage the growth of toxic algae."
Fortunately there are few streams in this area but there have been Federally Threatened Mexican Spotted Owls documented not far away. SeEtta