I’m in the process of updating my “green” birding year for various people. As you know from reading my blog I live in a senior park called the “Woods” in Little River, California. It’s a great place to live.
There are about 109 manufactured homes in the park. We have a monthly newsletter. Early in the year (2013) I wrote a series of articles about getting around without using a car. I told them that I was doing my birding using the MTA, my bike and my feet. I’ve written an update for the newsletter on my 2013 birding adventures. You can read it below. Upcoming will be articles for Facebook, the local Audubon Newsletter, our local birding list serve, the MTA Newsletter and any others I can think of.
I don’t have much hope for my senior community. Most of us are set in our ways but I do know one person who lives here that has used the MTA to get to points south. That’s a start.
GREEN BIRDING MENDO UPDATE
By Richard Hubacek
Well I did it! You might remember from my, “Getting Around Without A Car” series earlier this year that I was doing my 2013 “birding” using the Mendocino Transit Authority(MTA), my bike, and my feet. I just wanted to give you an update as to how it went. First of all the MTA, my bike, and my feet survived the year. There were times when I began to question if I was going to, like when I was biking on the Haul Rd., north of Fort Bragg, into 20-30 mph headwinds or subfreezing temperatures. You may have forgotten why I decided to do this. I will get into that later. First of all the birds.
My total number of bird species seen during 2013 was 250. At the beginning of the year I thought that 240 was possible. I beat that and could have made 260 except for a cancelled pelagic boat trip and a poor fall “vagrant” migration. I added 8 new Mendocino County birds to my list. Two of them, a Curlew Sandpiper and a Brown Booby were lifers. The Curlew Sandpiper was the first documented sighting in Mendocino County. California averages only 1 or 2 reports each year. Curlew Sandpipers breed in Siberia and winters along the coasts of tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia, and Australia. I took a picture and the editor is going to put it somewhere in this article. I had a picture of the Brown Booby on the “Woods and Lodge” Facebook page but someone made an inappropriate comment and corporate took it down. I don’t know what would have happened if I had given them pictures of Titmice, Wrentits, or Bushtits. The other 6 county birds were a Black-throated Sparrow (one of maybe 5 total ever seen in Mendocino County), Tropical Kingbirds (both the Kingbirds and sparrow were seen right across the street at the airport), a White-winged Dove, a Northern Parula, a Great-tailed Grackle, and a Rough-legged Hawk.
I saved over 2,929 carbon producing truck miles. I should have kept track of my bike and bus miles and how many “senior” bus passes used but I didn’t. I also should have recorded how much money I saved during the year. I made two trips into Fort Bragg and one to Ukiah without using my truck. Yes—that means I biked up and down Little River Airport Road 3 times. Somehow I lived. My 8 trips over to Ukiah cost me a total of $40.00. Yes, you read that right. It’s a $5.00 round trip for this “senior” birder.
I extensively birded six California State Parks and Stations, three Mendocino Land Trust Projects and a botanical garden. What a great area we live in! Throw in a waste treatment plant, two bike rides to the top of the Mendocino Dam, two trips to the Mendocino College, a couple of cemeteries and city parks, an airport and a lumberyard to get a sense of my efforts.
I had 2 flat tires and 7 or 8 broken spokes during the year. Thanks goes to Jason at, “Catch a Canoe & Bicycles Too!” for keeping me on the road and helping me relearn, after many years, how to fix a flat.
There was only one time when the bus failed to show. It had broken down in Albion. I couldn’t wait for the replacement bus. I think that was a fantastic record for the amount of time I used the MTA. Most delays were caused by all the road and bridge work being done during the year.
My blog, which you can still read, at “greenbirdingmendo.wordpress.com” generated 651 views over the year. Parts of it were read in 25 countries (Cambodia? Don’t ask me why.). I wrote 191 posts. I wrote on lot’s of subjects, the birding, the bus riding, biking, and climate change. My five part series on, “The Psychology of Bus Riding” caught the eye of management at the MTA. I had 9 people who followed me during the year. I know that this information about blogs is foreign to many of you as it was to me before I started one.
So why did I do it. I wanted to reduce my carbon footprint. I wanted to show people(birders) that they can get around reducing their car use.
Folks—the planet is warming (the Polar Vortex is easily explained in the context of a warming planet.) and carbon going into the air is a major part of that warming. Droughts are getting to be a regular thing as are more violent storms and wildfires. The Arctic ice is melting rapidly. Ocean sea levels are rising, becoming more acidic and warm. Cars are not the whole reason for this but are a major part of the picture. During my birding year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) released parts of it Fifth Assessment Report. What did it say? Climate change is real, it is here, and it’s caused by us. The International Programme on the State of the Ocean(IPSO) released their, “State of the Ocean Report 2013”, which stated that based on the latest science our oceans are in a critical state from cumulative impacts, the worst being climate change. You may not have heard about these reports. They came out around the time that our government was shutdown. The media was obsessed with that shutdown not that they do a good job reporting about climate change.
If you don’t care about climate change, I mentioned in my first, “Getting Around Without a Car”, series about the high environmental and human costs involved in oil production. Just recently I read an article on the ThinkProgress website. It was titled, “What A Year: 45 Fossil Fuel Disasters The Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know About.” It documented 45 pipeline spills, explosions, derailments, and mining accidents during 2013. On the evening of July 6th, a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Megantic, Canada and exploded and wiped out the center of the town killing 47 people, many of them enjoying the evening in the local bars and restaurants. On November 22nd, in Qingdao, China, an oil pipeline exploded, killing 62 people and setting the ocean on fire. On September 29th, a North Dakota farmer discovered the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. History the size of seven football fields that went unreported for 7 days. November 14th, a natural gas pipeline exploded in Milford, Texas causing the evacuation of 700 people. The flames could be seen for miles. The list goes on. To paraphrase a Pink Floyd song—we have all become comfortably numb—to the price we pay for our convenient lifestyles.
To end on a positive note. I recently ran into Judy, an elderly blind woman, and her guide dog Jammie. In my July issue of, “Getting Around Without a Car”, I wrote about her. She had just returned from Florida using public transportation. I made the statement that if she could do it anyone could. She’s going to Alaska for some snow skiing next month.