Thursday, February 22, 2018

Wisconsin Wetlands

Two things drew my attention to wetlands this week. First Wisconsin's state legislature have advanced a bill to allow some amount of filling of wetlands in urban and rural areas without a permit. Some details of the bill can be found here. The short version is that isolated wetlands 1 acre or smaller in urban areas or 3 acres or smaller in rural areas can filled without permits.

The ironic part is (the second thing drew my attention) that various parts of the state have been under flood warnings recently because of melting snow and fairly heavy rains. In fact, the city of Fitchburg was recently distributing sand bags.

Of course after Hurricane Harvey, folks have paid some more attention to the value of wetlands in and around urban areas because the wetlands slow or absorb flood water. It's estimated that after over $600 million of damage was prevented during Sandy. because of local wetlands. However Houston's development boom filled wetlands and covered them with impermeable surfaces like roads and houses. Not only do you lose the wetlands ability to absorb the water, the impermeable surfaces give water nowhere to go and speed up the overall flow.

Wetlands provide a variety of benefits beyond flood protection. Clean fresh water continues to be a major concern whether it's about literal supply or the cleanliness of the water. Wetlands naturally clean fresh water. They filter chemicals and fertilizers and other substances which can be harmful to people. They are also excellent habitat for a diversity of wildlife. For those concerned by the number of Canada Geese, remember that every time a retention pond goes in and a wetland goes out, we've chosen the Mallards and Canada Geese over other bird species like Snipes, Rails, Herons, and Cranes.

In short keeping wetlands intact provides aesthetic and ecological benefit as well as economic and practical benefit.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Great Backyard Bird Count - Weekend Summary

As I'll be at work tomorrow, I won't be participating in the last of the The Great Backyard Bird Count. So I thought I'd summarize how the weekend went here.

Most of my counting was done at home, but I did make a short trip out to a local park yesterday. Here's a summary of the weekend's observations.

SpeciesHighest Count
American Crow2
American Goldfinch4
American Tree Sparrow4
Black Capped Chickadee4
Blue Jay2
Common Redpoll5
Dark Eyed Junco7
Downy Woodpecker2
European Starling22
Hairy Woodpecker1
House Finch9
Mourning Dove21
Pine Siskin4
Red Breasted Nuthatch1

In short not a bad weekend for birding, especially with the amount of wind we had. The Great Backyard Bird Count is currently reporting nearly 95,000 checklists submitted and over 5,000 species observed. That's amazing! Great job everyone!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Great Backyard Bird Count - Day 2 - Better Start and Unwelcome Visitors

Day 2 has started and we've had some different visitors this morning including two Northern Cardinals and a Red Breasted Nuthatch. The Great Backyard Bird Count has had updates as well, an additional 8,000 checklists submitted since I last posted and an additional 400 species reported.

The map they've shared shows checklists posted from all over the world.

In addition to some welcome visitors, we also had 23 European Starlings show up. It may be a sign that it will soon be time to take down the suet feeder.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Great Backyard Bird Count - 2018 - Day 1 Summary

So I posted earlier this morning when it was pretty windy. I ended up submitting three checklists for today. Here's a summary of my high counts for the yard for today.

SpeciesHigh Count
American Crow2
Black Capped Chickadee3
Blue Jay2
Dark Eyed Junco7
Downy Woodpecker1
European Starling1
Hairy Woodpecker1
House Finch2
Mourning Dove9
Pine Siskin3

At the end of day 1, I'm off to a slow start. Hopefully tomorrow will go a little better. NOAA says 60% chance of slow, likely half an inch, with a high near 33 F. Precipitation may bring the birds out in droves or keep them hunkered down like today.

As of now the Great Backyard Bird Count is showing 21010 checklists submitted with 3836 species counted worldwide. That's awesome! Hopefully your counting is going better than mine.