Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Snowy Plover in Galveston

When I was at the beach the other day, I found myself thinking about Leaf Lady Gail's post on the Snowy Plover. So, I came home and did some research.

Here's a website for The International Snowy Plover Survey. Apparently, this endangered bird's statistics are well documented along the Pacific coast where Gail lives, and now scientists are using those methods to study the Gulf Coast and Mexico where their numbers are thought to be declining also.

I see Snowy Plovers all the time, and never realized they were endangered. The book Bird Life of Houston, Galveston, and the Upper Texas Coast says that the only nesting evidence of these birds here are the fledglings sighted with their parents. No one has actually seen a nest. A 2004 Census counted 491 pairs along the Texas Coast. Counting these little guys seems to be difficult because of the constant changing of their habitat.

They like to nest in dry dunes near the tidal flats where they feed. This picture was taken at the east end of the island along the Houston ship channel, which is considered a bird sanctuary because of all the tidal sand flats and pools.

Hurricanes wipe out huge sections of these flats, washing the sand into the Houston ship channel.

Then we dredge up the sand from the bottom of the ship channel to rebuild the beaches. This is a section of East Beach that is just before the tidal flats. There was a sign saying that they're rebuilding it for sea turtles and endangered birds.

Here's a view of the reconstruction of East Beach from the tidal flats. The ship channel is to the left. The Gulf is straight ahead on the other side of the dunes.

It will probably take a while for the tidal flats to reform. Each time I go, they seem to be growing. I wasn't able to find a more current census to see if the population is declining. The 2004 Census was supposed to be a baseline for future reference.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dry Lagoon

I went to Dry Lagoon today for the first time in more than a year!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day! WATER!

Water is everywhere. It sustains life. It makes our planet livable.

We drink it, we cook with it, we swim in it.

We sail on it.

But water is endangered! We threaten our own lives, our children and grandchildren, by polluting our water.

Yet there is HOPE!

Five facts about water:

  1. Unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation kills more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Unclean drinking water can incubate some pretty scary diseases, like E. coli, salmonella, cholera and hepatitis A. Given that bouquet of bacteria, it's no surprise that water, or rather lack thereof, causes 42,000 deaths each week.
  2. More people have access to a cell phone than to a toilet. Today, 2.5 billion people lack access to toilets. This means that sewage spills into rivers and streams, contaminating drinking water and causing disease.
  3. Every day, women and children in Africa walk a combined total of 109 million hours to get water. They do this while carrying cisterns weighing around 40 pounds when filled in order to gather water that, in many cases, is still polluted. Aside from putting a great deal of strain on their bodies, walking such long distances keeps children out of school and women away from other endeavors that can help improve the quality of life in their communities.
  4. It takes 6.3 gallons of water to produce just one hamburger. That 6.3 gallons covers everything from watering the wheat for the bun and providing water for the cow to cooking the patty and baking the bun. And that's just one meal! It would take over 184 billion gallons of water to make just one hamburger for every person in the United States.
  5. The average American uses 159 gallons of water every day – more than 15 times the average person in the developing world. From showering and washing our hands to watering our lawns and washing our cars, Americans use a lot of water. To put things into perspective, the average five-minute shower will use about 10 gallons of water. Now imagine using that same amount to bathe, wash your clothes, cook your meals and quench your thirst.

Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

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