Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shale gas: Sound the fracking alarm

NEW: A Fractivist's Toolkit

The evidence is being reported across the continent: first-hand reports, scientific studies . . . fracking may get more gas but it is very bad for people and the planet. Here are some reports from British Columbia and beyond:

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Big-beaked Hairy Woodpecker

I'm no bird expert but for 12 years I've been watching and photographing the birds in my (Cariboo) back yard. Among our most frequent visitors are the hairy woodpeckers. I'm not sure I could tell one from another, except that the males have a red flash on their crown.

So, when I saw this one, I did a double take, thinking it was probably a variety I'd never encountered. But other than a beak three times as long as all the other Hairy visitors (see inset), he was the same. Nothing like this in the bird guide and our local bird guy, Tom Godin, agreed.

He's a regular visitor, gets on well with the other Hairys and seems to manage OK with his long beak. I think he even has a bit of an advantage getting deep into the suet cage, though my impression is that getting food down his beak and into his body is a little more time-consuming.

Have you ever seen a Hairy woodpecker like this? Either way, I'd welcome your comments.

For more about my birds: Birds from a Backyard Deck.

Monday, August 29, 2011

More Wild Cariboo Backyard Plants

I've done more work on the Wild Cariboo backyard plants page and improving it, including the addition of nine new photos.

Corrections, comments etc. very helpful and very welcome.

Here's a bit of a perspective on at least part of the land on which these plants grow:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wild Cariboo backyard plants

I live on less than an acre. About half of the available land is second growth interior Douglas Fir. We moved here 12 years ago and, other than building a raised bed garden on the sunny side of the house, I planted little else. I put my energy into a much needed clean-up, including removal (to our wood-stove) of usable wood and excess forest floor fuel. I also removed a pile of thistle and some high-standing weeds.

When the garden was in reasonable shape, I spent more breaks from work walking around or just sitting and observing. After a while (about a year) I felt confident enough to make a few minor interventions - like building a small retaining wall. Mostly, though, I wanted to see what this little piece of land had in mind.

As I became more aware, my senses educated, I saw many changes and discovered the great diversity of plants in this unspectacular piece of land. I had to be careful not to bore people with what I realized might seem trivial to them.

It was relatively easy to get to know the birds that visit us, especially after I bought a fairly good camera. The plants were another matter. The photos I took allowed me to enlist the help of friends/clients in identification - like Chris Czajkowski. One day, I thought, I'll publish a list of the plants that grow here. It's about ten years but that day is dawning. I've just completed my page of Cariboo Backyard Plants with the beginnings of the list: photos of 26 plants. I'll be adding more as I go along.

I'd appreciate feedback and corrections.

Click to go to this web page

Monday, June 27, 2011

Birds from a Cariboo Deck No.11: Hairy Woodpecker

Looks similar but is much larger (around 9 inches) than it's smaller version, the diminutive (around 6 inches) downy. An early lesson in my birdwatching: "Huge Hairy, diminutive Downy".

Spring brings the Hairy woodpecker pairs out, chasing each other in spirals around the Douglas fir. As the young grow into their adult plumage, you can still see the adults feeding them from time to time.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Harper restrained by environmentalists

Murray Dobbin in The Tyee, points to the ability of sustained and strong resistance by environmental coalitions to keep Conservative economic single-mindedness in check. For example:
The rejection of the B.C. Prosperity copper-gold mine proposal and the saving of Fish Lake was a good example. Approving the mine in the face of very effective publicity on the part of opponents proved just too much for even Stephen Harper to pull off. Defying many of the pundits' predictions, the Conservatives backed off and actually listened to their own environmental review panel.

Now comes a bigger issue:  The Enbridge Northern pipeline plan:
It's a huge issue. Harper has invested a lot in supporting the project. But the opposition is formidable: an informal alliance of some half dozen environmental organizations, 61 First Nations, and many municipal governments that may well be unprecedented. Eighty per cent of British Columbians are opposed to allowing oil tankers in coastal waters. If Harper gives a green light to the project he will unleash an enormous backlash, and the movement which is now simply campaigning for a rejection of the project by a federal joint review panel will move into higher gear, including civil disobedience.
It would be a public relations nightmare for the Harper government. Enbridge, which between 1999 and 2008 had 610 spills releasing 132,000 barrels of oil, is now pumping dirty oil allied with Alberta's Harper. This against a diverse alliance who want to save the pristine wilderness, B.C. coastal waters and First Nations' livelihood. That alliance also has the backing of all the opposition parties, two of which have put forward private members' bills trying to ban oil tankers (an informal moratorium now exists).
Read more

The Campaign to protect Fish Lake