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Global Conservation Alliance

State of the Union at Global Conservation Alliance

by Lanny McDowell on February 15, 2010

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Here is an update on where we stand right now.  By the way, the new name for our shorebird project within GCA is The Red Knot Survival Project.

I was just reading about non-profits and who gives to them, who the supporters are.  Well it turns out that 75% of the money donated comes from private individuals.  That is pretty astounding, and also encouraging.  As of this writing, Global Conservation Alliance has received money donations from various individuals, from one corporate contributor and from one conservation organization donor.

GCA members have traveled to Delaware Bay to work there the last two years, in 2008 and 2009; and we anticipate going back this year.  Our target dates are May 22 until June 1st.  The full moon, when horseshoe crabs gather in the most dense numbers to lay their eggs, because the higher tides of the full and new moons take them further up the beach, occurs on the 27th of May this year, right in the middle of our stay.  Also, it happens that the historical departure date for Red Knots leaving en masse for the Arctic occurs on some afternoon between the 27th and the 29th of May. [click to continue...]

Eiders in Menemsha Channel

by Lanny McDowell on January 10, 2010

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Martha’s Vineyard, her rocky shores and the rich marine ecology that surrounds her, is very attractive to Common Eiders looking to winter in a place that grows and gives up enough tonnage of food resources to keep the feathered thousands alive through the coldest months.  The patterns of major sea duck concentration have changed this winter, presumably  moving with the food resource.  There are almost always a smaller number of eiders that congregate near the jetties at Menemsha.  What they were doing when I was there yesterday is what they often do at sea, just in a more confined space: riding the current and feeding, then flying back to take another pass on the current.  They were riding on the incoming tide ripping south between the stone jetties, with the wind at their backs, to enter the broadening waters of the tidal pond.  On cue, on a whim or reacting to an ambulatory threat they pattered into flight north against the wind between the walls of rock  to settle on the sea just outside the harbor, eventually funneling back to repeat the circuit.

This show is there for anyone to watch. [click to continue...]

shore bird photos up close & personal

by Lanny McDowell on June 17, 2009

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Take a course in good water and air
, and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own.  Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.
John Muir

Especially when someone looking at bird photography sees a lot of detail in the avian subject, feathers in sharp focus or a shiny glint in the bird’s eye, he or she wonders how it is accomplished.  Often the viewer concludes, “Oh, well, the big lens!”   “What kind of glass are you using?” is the more camera-savvy question.  Guess what?  It can be the humongous and fast prime lens on the oversized gimbled tripod … on a bright sunny day … bird posed at the edge of the nest … shot from the sturdy platform of the observation tower in the well-managed nature sanctuary.  Nothing wrong with that.  Do whatcha gotta do, I say.

Here’s what I go for, though.  What I seek out and what rings my avian art bell is:   first of all, it almost does not matter what the species is;  [click to continue...]

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Our Pennsylvania-based associate John Patrick Brown arranged a just-in-time house rental which offered us the option of either staying in a nice old farmhouse once owned by Lucky Luciano or using the current owners’ beach house right on Delaware Bay at a place called Highs Beach, which is just south from Cook’s and Reeds beaches, both well known as annual shorebird feeding and resting sites situated up the bay coast from Cape May.

The permits for Global Conservation Alliance (GCA)  to conduct research this year specified Cook’s, Reeds, Moore’s and Gandy’s beaches as locations for our work.  The procedure to collect Horseshoe crab eggs involved sampling certain marked plots according to  protocols developed by Norm Famous, who has the credentials and background to do that sort of thing.  Three of the four beaches were associated with the outlets of estuary systems draining out of extensive marshlands emptying into Delaware Bay from the New Jersey side.  Two of the beaches were long uninterrupted stretches of sand.  Two contained a variety of bayshore surfaces and substrata, including clay and silt layers, sections of peat and areas of mixed sand and pebbles washed by strong tidal currents.

Our objective was to identify places on the beach [click to continue...]