Friday, July 09, 2010

Loose Feathers #246

Piping Plover on a New Jersey beach / Photo by Gene Nieminen (USFWS)

Bird and birding news
  • EBird has opened global data entry. This means that birds can now be reported from any location in the world. Data quality filters and checklists are still in development, so eBird Global is designated as beta for now.
  • The Boston Globe writes about the problem of balancing the needs of beach nesting birds against human access to beaches. Even with protected areas, the Piping Plovers are not entirely safe; unleashed dogs sometimes run into restricted areas and people tear down the fencing for firewood or wander in to relieve themselves.
  • Atlantic Puffins from Britain's largest puffin colony fly each day to a foraging hotspot about 20 miles away. The colony is slowly recovering from a population slide that happened a few years ago. The travel distances were recorded using GPS loggers attached to puffins; other data recorders found that puffins only dove about 4-5 meters to catch food.
  • Endangered species protection has not succeeded (so far, anyway) in saving Spotted Owls, but it has restored a lot of their former habitat.
  • Jerdon's Courser, a small shorebird, was thought extinct for 80 years until its recent rediscovery. The bird is so cryptic that a scientist who spent 8 years studying the species only saw it three times. Instead of sight records, the study uses tracking strips and camera traps.
  • Pied Wagtails were found nesting inside a tractor.
  • The BBC has a gallery of photos of birds from the island of Jersey.
Birds in the blogosphere
Oil Spill
Environment and biodiversity
  • Another independent investigation has cleared the University of East Anglia's climate scientists of misconduct. The controversy arose after someone hacked the university's servers and found unflattering remarks in some of the scientists' email messages. Now that the investigation is finished, Phil Jones will return to the university's Climate Research Unit as the director of research.
  • The EPA proposed new regulations to reduce air pollution that crosses state lines. Power plants would have to reduce the sulfur in their emissions by installing cleaning equipment or using low-sulfur fuel.
  • Two new species of pancake batfish (family Ogcocephalidae) have been discovered in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The Coffee and Conservation blog has a new Quick guide to coffee certifications. The guide explains what organizations grant the certifications and what types of environmental requirements roasters need to meet.
  • Over 25% of plant species in the world are threatened with extinction; many could become extinct before they have been scientifically discovered. Threats include clearing land for agriculture and development, pollution, and changing water levels.