It’s Good to Know You’re Not Alone.

Back in December I received an email from Audubon California. One of the links caught my eye. It directed me to an article on their blog titled, Could Global Warming Research Inspire A New Wave Of Green Birding? While I don't agree with part of the opening sentence, overall it's a fine article.

While no one is going to say that people looking at birds are a remotely significant source of the global greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, there is a growing number of birders who are exploring less carbon-reliant ways to enjoy the wonders of nature. After all, they those(Ed.) folks might say, if we're going to talk about the threat to birds from global warming, and ask lawmakers to take action, birders should at least do their part. The idea of green birding is nothing new, but as Audubon is talking more about the impacts of global warming on birds, some say that it's time to focus more attention on the practice.

One of these people is Martin Byhower, a past president and current board member of the Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society in Los Angeles County. Back in 2006, Byhower founded a Green Birdathon for his chapter. The event worked in every way like every other birdathon fundraiser (people are asked to pledge a certain amount of money to the chapter for every species identified during a set period of time), with one exception: the birding group can't use any motor-powered vehicle other than public transportation.

This video embedded in the article is not only a fine example of having fun while “green” birding but it took me back in time to the places I used to bird in Southern California. It made me get out an old dusty file marked “Richard's past”.

Martin Byhower and I have a few things in common besides being green birders. Martin was president of the Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society from, I believe, 2007 to 2009. Over 20 years earlier I was president of that group from 1985 to 1987. Martin explained that Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park was one of his favorite places to bird and had served on it's advisory committee. Back in my days it was just called Harbor Park and it was my favorite place to bird and was also the place I became interested in butterflies. I also served on it's advisory committee. I still have this old black and white photo hanging on my wall.

While a great place to bird it had many problems. Today the park is closed while many of those problems are being addressed. The link takes you to a Daily Breeze article. Another blast from the past. I used to work there.

Surrounded by refineries and busy streets, Harbor City’s Machado Lake from a distance appears to be an unexpected metropolitan oasis.

But get a little closer and the trash is hard to miss. Even harder to miss are the signs of reality that go largely unseen: pesticides, homeless encampments behind the shoreline brush, and invasive species such as black water snakes and snapping turtles that don’t belong there.

In fact, as noted by Mark Gold, adjunct professor for UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the former president of Heal the Bay, in an L.A. Observed blog post, it’s the largest project in the state being taken on under the Proposition O Clean Water Bond measure passed by California voters in 2004.

And while it might not fix everything that’s wrong with the park and lake, Byhower said the $111 million project will go a long way toward making the lake — and the 231-acre park it’s in — a cleaner and more nature-friendly environment.

I used to watch endangered adult Least Terns train their young to feed from the top of the boathouse on the lake.

Update: Not long after publishing this post I received a call from a Mitch Heindel. He asked me if I was the Richard Hubacek that had participated in a Palos Verde/South Bay Audubon Christmas Bird Count in such and such year. I told him that I was. Apparently he was the compiler of that CBC. We had a fairly long chat. He had left the area before my term as president of that Audubon Society and had come back after I had left. We reminisced about Ken Malloy and the park named after him. It turns out that Mitch had also been on the park's advisory committee. He referred me to a website he had established for the park. You can find it here. Mitch has since moved to Utopia, which is in Texas. He also told me that Martin Byhower had also recently moved to Texas. I know of another birder that moved to Texas. I'm personally glad I moved north and not east.

In the video Martin's wife Eileen takes you to Madrona Marsh in the City of Torrance where I grew up. “The Madrona Marsh Preserve is thought to be one of the last remaining vernal freshwater marshes in Los Angeles County.” While just 54 acres it was a battle to save the preserve. I still have my symbolic Deed of Trust for one square foot.

Martin ended his “green” birdathon at what was called White Point in my days. It is now called White Point Nature Preserve & Education Center. The military wanted to build housing on it. The soccer people wanted to put soccer fields on it. Ken Malloy wanted a state park. I spent many hours helping him in his efforts. I left for Northern California before the issues were finally settled. Today most of the land is preserved with only a small portion used for military housing. It's preserved as long as it doesn't fall into the Pacific Ocean. That was always a problem in the area. This is the picture hanging on my wall.

This is a Google Earth picture today. Note the road in the lower right side.

It's good to see that there has been continued success in the battles of the 80's. The name Ken Malloy came up a couple of times in this post. Ken was a mentor and friend to all that met him including myself. He was an example of what one man can accomplish through sound reasoning, gentle persuasion and persistence. Ken passed away in 1991. This picture, taken in 1985, is me congratulating Ken for being chosen to receive the 1985 Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Conservation Award for his efforts to preserve White Point.

Well enough with the past. Based on the title this is not a post about my past life. On May 23rd I received another email from Audubon California. I'm beginning to warm up to them. Featured in this email was Keith Hansen with the headline of Why Keith Hansen cares about global warming.

Hummingbirds are the reason wildlife artist Keith Hansen cares about global warming. His studio in Bolinas attracts numerous Allen's Humingbirds and Rufous Hummingbirds. To help protect the birds he loves, he embarked on a carbon-free big year.

I have a few books that are illustrated by Keith Hansen. Two of them are Birds of Yosemite and the East Slope by David Gaines and California Bird Species of Special Concern published jointly by Western Field Ornithologists and the California Department of Fish and Game.

Keith Hansen's carbon-free Big Year was done in 2010. You can find a list of locations and birds he found on his blog.

So count them. That's two emails from Audubon California inside of a year that featured “green” birding. There are other birders out there that feel the same way as me. My ego would like to think that I have had a small part in those emails. You might recall from the top of this post that the original California Audubon article stated…”there is a growing number of birders who are exploring less carbon-reliant ways to enjoy the wonders of nature.” As followers of this blog will note, I wrote to Brigid McCormack, Executive Director of Audubon California last October about my disappointment with Audubon not doing enough about encouraging birders to change the way they bird. You can read my Dear Brigid letter here.



Birds and Butterflies

I enjoy writing these birds and butterflies posts. They get me out into the natural world for observation and exercise. They awaken my dead brain cells. They help with my ego in that I can still identify and get a decent photo of a good bird or butterfly and it shows that you don't have pour tons of carbon into the air to observe nature around us.

On March 26th, I was biking south on the Haul Rd just north of Virgin Creek after having an encounter with a Monarch Butterfly (more on that later) when I noticed something sticking out of a water filled pothole. I noticed that the head of this something followed me as I went by. I stopped and got out my camera. It was a Northern Pygmy-Owl taking a bath.

Apparently my being on a bike didn't bother it but me being on foot taking pictures did. It flew to a tree nearby.

The Northern Pygmy-Owl is a really small and cute bird. It's hard to believe it a scourge of small song birds. A week later I was looking for the pothole and discovered that state park's personnel had filled in the hole not realizing it was a birdbath:-)

On April 2nd, I had a close encounter with 15 Short-billed Dowitchers during a SOS Shorebird Survey at Virgin Creek. At least I think They were Short-billed. The more I read about separating dowitchers the more confused I become. Apparently we never see dowitchers in full breeding plumage. That happens on their breeding grounds. Hearing their calls is one way to sort them out but in my situation the surf was drowning out any other sounds. Short-billed Dowitchers like the coast and salt water while Long-billed are more frequently seen inland and like fresh water but that isn't universal. My final determination in identifying these birds is that it seems Short-billed Dowitchers have a bend at the end of their bills.

Joining the dowitchers were 3 fairly early Long-billed Curlews. I don't have any trouble identifying these birds. They tower over the local Whimbrels. They are listed as rare in Mendocino Country.

While I was getting ready to leave Virgin Creek I noticed a huge raptor flying in from the south. It followed the creek and over the Haul Rd. scattering the Mallards and then flew over me again out to the shoreline heading north. It was a third year Bald Eagle, a first for me at Virgin Creek. Bald Eagles are listed as rare in Mendocino County especially on the coast.

The birding at the Little River Airport has been interesting. Birders in Mendocino Country have been finding migratory birds arriving extremely early. Both Wilson Warblers and Pacific-slopes Flycatchers arrived at the airport over a week earlier then any observed time. Purple Martins were heard 17 days earlier than previously records.

Since I've been watching for butterflies earlier this year then last year I found a few new species to add to my Mendocino List. This Margined White found near Lake Cleone is only the second I've found and forces me to check out all of the white butterflies that I thought were Cabbage Whites.

While I have seen Monarch Butterflies in Mendocino County, I have not gotten a picture. I noticed this male Monarch still flapping while caught in a spider web. I tried to release it but I noticed the legs were not working. The spider got to it before I did. If you would like to help protect the Monarch from extinction you can sigh the petition to the EPA here.

A new Mendocino County butterfly for me is this Red Admiral found while on the boardwalk at Lake Cleone. Actually found two of them but this one posed for me.

Another new butterfly that wasn't on my radar is this Echo Azure. At one time the Echo was considered a part of the Spring Azure complex which is still being studied as far as species classification. The Echo seems to have made it as a separate specie. This butterfly was found at the Woods where I live while walking back from the airport. Pretty butterfly!!



Birds in Trouble, What Can We Do?

Birds are in trouble for many reasons. Recently two reports have come out documenting just how much trouble. One of these reports is, The State of the Birds Report 2014.

From the press release.

“Washington, D.C.—One hundred years after the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the nation’s top bird science and conservation groups have come together to publish The State of the Birds 2014—the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever conducted. The authors call the results unsettling. The report finds bird populations declining across several key habitats, and it includes a “watch list” of bird species in need of immediate conservation help. The report also reveals, however, that in areas where a strong conservation investment has been made, bird populations are recovering.”

“Because the ‘state of the birds’ mirrors the state of their habitats, our national wildlife refuges, national parks, national seashores, and other public lands are critical safe havens for many of these species—especially in the face of climate change—one of the biggest challenges to habitat conservation for all species in the 21st century,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.”

“In addition to assessing population trends in the seven key habitats, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative members created a State of the Birds Watch List. The 230 species on the list are currently endangered or at risk of becoming endangered without significant conservation. Forty-two of them are pelagic (open ocean) species…More than half of all U.S. shorebird species are on the Watch List, including the piping plover, long-billed curlew and red knot. Loss of habitat and uncontrolled harvesting in the South America and Caribbean are some of their biggest threats…One of the more dire groups on the Watch List is made up of the 33 Hawaiian forest species, 23 of which are listed as federally endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The report’s authors have deemed Hawaii the “bird extinction capital of the world”—no place has had more extinctions since human settlement…Another group on the Watch List will require international cooperation: neotropical migrants. These species that breed in North America but migrate south of the U.S. border in winter hold 30 spots on the Watch List…The strongest finding in The State of the Birds 2014 is simple: conservation works. Ducks fly once again in great numbers up the Mississippi River and across the Chesapeake Bay. California condors are rebounding from just 22 birds to more than 200 today. Bald eagles, brown pelicans, peregrine falcons—all species once headed the way of the passenger pigeon—are now abundant.”

In the report scientists from the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) identified the 33 U.S. common bird species in steep decline. Some of these birds might surprise you. Others not so much.

The numbers of birds killed by cats and windows is staggering!

The other report is the Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report. It documents 314 birds on the brink of extinction because of shrinking and shifting ranges caused by climate change. I had been reading about the pending release of this report for sometime and looked forward to reading it. I’ve read much of the report and Audubon did a great job in the research and presentation and is certainly convincing. Check out this video:

As you watch the video, note that the Audubon scientist states that there are two things that people can do and one is, “reduce carbon pollution”. I have been getting constant emails from Audubon to take action (and also send them money) by contacting local politicians to support programs to reduce carbon pollution. They NEVER address the huge gorilla in the birding room. They never ask birders to think about how they bird or how much carbon they put into the air while birding. I’m not particularly surprised.

The September/October issue of Audubon is a special issue that is entirely about climate change and birds. It’s a great read that covers the subject in every way but that huge gorilla. I searched the whole issue and found not one suggestion about greening the birding experience. The marvelous irony is that their July/August issue featured Neil Hayward who set a new record of 750 bird species across the United States and Canada in 2013. I wrote about him last year when I was doing my “green” year. Let us review his carbon birding totals.

28 states and 7 provinces visited.

193,758 miles flown.

51,758 miles driven.

147 hours at sea.

Neil Hayward wasn’t the only birder doing a “Big Year” in 2013. Audubon Magazine titled the article, King Bird. Do you think there are birders out there who want to take his crown away. You bet there are! In that issue, Audubon didn’t mention that they had a new report coming out that documented the devastating effects on birds from carbon pollution. As I’ve stated many times, birding is a carbon intensive hobby. Birders across the country are doing ” Big Years and Days”, traveling around the world for their lists and taking off at a moment’s notice to chase that new and rare bird.

In their report Audubon encourages birders to do citizen science but they make no effort to encourage us to “green” that citizen science. Their Christmas Bird Count area on their website still features the, Return of the Mad Counter. It’s the story of Kelly McKay who traveled over 7100 miles during the 104th CBC while doing a count a day. During the 112th CBC they used 583,164 vehicle miles to just count birds within the count circle. Just a small fraction of Kelly McKay’s 7100 miles was counting birds in the count circle.

So my statement to Audubon is:


My final thought on the two reports is–Even if “conservation” works it will be of no use if climate change isn’t addressed.







GBBC 2014

“Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.

Since then, more than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life have joined the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.”

Since the rain we’ve been getting has kept me from getting out to bird, I was glad that it let up to allow me to participate in this year’s GBBC. “Backyard” is loosely defined as anywhere you can bird. They have made it easy to send in data. All you have to do is Ebird during the 4 day event. If you go to their website you can see the maps light up in real time as you submit data. You can also see what’s happening in your county or anywhere else. Their website is here. You can participate anywhere in the world. Think about that for next year.

I decided to do an off season SOS Shorebird Survey at Virgin Creek Beach to start with. Did my usual truck to bus stop in Mendocino, bus to Haul Rd. and bike to Virgin Creek Beach. Not a busy shorebird day at Virgin Creek. I did find 7 Least Sandpiper trying to rest on a rock in the creek.

Most of the shorebirds were at Laguna Point further north. It was there that I found the best bird of my GBBC. It was a Black-legged Kittiwake among the gull flock. I had looked for but failed to find them during my green year. Got a distant picture of it. A small gull in the company of the big ones.

There was also a California Gull that looked like something had taken a chunk out of it’s breast. It could still fly but you can see the blood coming out of the wound.

The next day there was a White-throated Sparrow in my yard at my feeders. This has been a poor year for them. Normally I have two or three during the winter. This one showed up about a week ago. Sorry no picture. 

Saturday it rained so I birded the Little River Airport on Sunday. The path to the airport was flooded. This happens during a good rain because of the clay soil. I rode my bike up to the airport entrance to start my morning of birding. Last year during the GBBC  I had 62 Red Crossbills and 8 Red-breasted Nuthatchs. I wrote about it here. Both birds are an irruptive species. This year neither showed up. Had 36 species at the airport which included a Merlin, 4 Ring-necked Ducks and a female Belted Kingfisher which behaved very strangely. It called repeatedly, perched on top of trees and continued to fly off into the woods. It didn’t stay anywhere near the water. 

Finished the weekend with 62 bird species. Only used 10 carbon producing truck miles. Did so well that GBBC gave me a certificate for my efforts. Amazing how fast they can get them to you :>)

Last Thursday I got this picture of a Snowy Egret at Big River. It had been sitting on the wood post in the picture and I was able to get it just after it took off. Thought it was a good picture. 


I Got a Page and a Half!!

I got an email from Ted Floyd this morning. Ted is the editor of “Birding” the American Birding Association’s (ABA) main publication. The email stated:

Hi, Richard.

Just FYI, here is your letter to the editor as it will appear in the imminent January/February 2014 Birding. Thanks for the fine contribution.

Sincerely yours,
Ted Floyd


As you can see from the pictures below, my “long” letter got almost a page and a half of the magazine. I know that’s an exaggeration because of the “Instructions for Contributors” box but give me some slack. The final version in “Birding” has been heavily edited. I guess you could say that it was a collaboration between Ted and I. I will discuss this a little more below.



I know that the pictures are a little fuzzy so here’s the complete text:

The Will to Conserve

In a post last year to The ABA Blog <>, Birding Editor Ted Floyd asked, “Was John Rakestraw’s article [“Most Birds, Least Harm: Ethical and Effective Birding in a Time of Peak Oil, Economic Collapse, and Mass Extinctions,” Birding, July/August 2013, pp. 56–60] effective?” My answer to the effectiveness of John Rakestraw’s bleak article would be a simple “Yes.” 

I share Rakestraw’s concerns for our birds and the planet. I note that Rakestraw’s commentary was penned prior to the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC] “Assessment Report,” with its findings that “Yes,” climate change is happening, and “Yes,” humans are causing it. The IPCC’s report has been lost in the media’s reporting about the dysfunctional U.S. government. Throw in the distressing “State of the Ocean 2013,” just released by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, and you get an alarming picture of the planetary havoc we are wreaking.

Now I have a question: Will anyone take it to heart? Will the “cannon-ballers,” twitchers, and Big Year people even consider it? Cherished birding traditions are entrenched; changing our birding conduct and practices will be resisted. I have seen this conflict within the ABA and as well as here in the northern California birding community. Rakestraw’s article and Floyd’s blog post referenced Scott Smithson’s article, “The Green Big Day: Less Driving, More Birding,” pp. 46–52 in the July 2012 Birding. I would have to say that Smithson’s “Green Big Day” was the most thought-provoking article I have ever read in Birding. His article inspired me to look at how I bird. I decided I could cut my carbon output by using the local transportation system, using my bike, and using my feet to bird. I did a Green Big Year using these methods. I wound up with 250 species (no exotics, Ted), added eight new county birds, two of which were lifers, and saved 2,929 carbon-producing motor vehicle miles.

While other bird-related organizations have their statements on conservation and climate change and their effects on bird populations, the ABA has a unique “Code of Birding Ethics.” It starts with these words: “Promote the welfare of birds and their environment.” You should ask your members how they are living up to these standards in this era of higher temperatures, extreme drought, catastrophic flooding, and sea level rise.

In Floyd’s blog post, he directs readers to the front matter (pp. 2 and 4, respectively) in recent issues of Birder’s Guide and Birding. I had to get out my reading glasses to read the small print, and sure enough found the words “the will to conserve” in the ABA’s mission statement— located in a section of the magazine that I’m sure no one reads. Isn’t it time to put THE WILL TO CONSERVE in boldface, capital letters?




Why do I call this a collaboration?

Here is the published version of a key sentence:

“Cherished birding traditions are entrenched; changing our birding conduct and practices will be resisted. I have seen this conflict within the ABA and as well as here in the northern California birding community.”

Here is what I wrote:

“Changes in long held birding practices will be hard to break and I have seen this conflict at ABA and even here in Northern California where I bird.”

Here is the published version:

“Now I have a question: Will anyone take it to heart?”

Here is what I wrote:

My question is–will anyone take it to heart?”

There are other examples like using the word “unique” in reference to the ABA’s ” Code of Birding Ethics”. Paragraphs are moved around. Other things are dropped entirely. 

You can read my original version in my post called “Into the Lion’s Den“.

DO I CARE? I find that I don’t. I have read my original version several times and came to the conclusion (along with several editors I’ve dealt with and maybe some of you readers) that I’m a little wordy when I write these kinds of things. Even the final version is somewhat wordy. I find that the soon to be published letter gets all the points I wanted to say—said. That’s all that matters to me. Let me know what you think.

This will be my second publication for the month. My article in our little Wood’s Newsletter went out on the first of this month.  


Good News (For Me) Updates

A couple of updates on past posts are in order today. Both are good news for me.

The first one is the Curlew Sandpiper I found on the 19th of September. You can read about it here and here. The California Bird Records Committee has acepted the record. It will be the first documented record for Mendocino County.

The second update is–You may recall that I had an email conversation with Ted Floyd, the editor of “Birding” Magazine. That was back in October. I wrote about it here. He encouraged me to submit a letter to the editor for his magazine. I actually expressed some doubts that it would get published and wasn’t totally surprised when it wasn’t in the last issue of “Birding”. So I was surprised when I got this email from Ted.


On Jan 9, 2014, at 7:59 AM, Ted Floyd <> wrote:

Hi, Richard.

We’ll be running your letter in the next issue of Birding.

But let’s update something first. You mention your Green Big Year, which was a work in progress when you submitted your letter. But now it’s complete. So could you please update the two yellow-highlighted stretches of text below? Thanks, –Ted Floyd

Rakestraw’s article and Floyd’s blog post referenced Scott Smithson’s article, “The Green Big Day: Less Driving, More Birding,” pp. 46–52 in the July 2012 Birding. I would have to say that Smithson’s “Green Big Day” was the most thought-provoking article I have ever read in Birding. His article inspired me to look at how I bird. I decided I could cut my carbon output by using the local transportation system, using my bike, and using my feet to bird. I did a Green Big Year using these methods. I would up with ### species (no exotics, Ted), added seven new county birds, two of which are lifers, and saved ### carbon-producing automobile miles.


I emailed back:

On Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 10:58 AM, Richard Hubacek <>wrote:

Ted–let’s change that sentence to–“I found 250 species (no exotics, Ted), added eight new county birds, two of which were lifers, and saved over 2929 carbon-producing vehicle miles.”

I like the word “vehicle” because I drive a small truck.

Ted acknowledged my email.
So once again I will wait for the next issue of “Birding”.


The Woods Newsletter

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.

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 “” 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.

Wrap Up 4–What Next?

My experimental “green” birding year took up most of my free time. 2014 will be a year to catch up on my reading material and projects around the house.













Writing about climate change can unsettle and depress a person. To help me clear my mind I want to get back to my mindful meditation practice. Birding is a way of meditation for me but just being out there ticking off birds on a list doesn’t work for me.

I’m going to work on my photography. I normally leave my camera on one setting and hope for the best. I hope to improve on that. I’m also going to work on processing after taking the picture. Note the picture on the right. It’s the first time I’ve ever used a frame. 

Two of the projects I would like to work on this year are building Hooded Merganser/Wood Duck nest boxes for the ponds at the Little River Airport. I have talked about this with the manager of the Little River Golf Course and he wants to help. Of course we will have to have some rain to fill the ponds. Compare this current picture with one of the very first I used in this blog.

Pond at West End of the Airport

The other project is trying to make California State Parks more bike friendly. Part of that will be more bike racks at various places. Pictured below are the racks I’ve had to use this last year. Since both are located in main parts of MacKerricher State Park I think they need some upgrading.














I’m also thinking of working on a photography project titled, “Happy Birds–The Birds of the Woods Taking Baths”. I may have to work on the title. It would look something like this.




As far as my birding efforts go I will be cutting back a day of birding in general. I plan to continue my Save Our Shorebirds (SOS) Survey at Virgin Creek Beach with less frequent trips to Ukiah using the MTA and my bike. I will continue my weekly birding visits to the Little River Airport. 

I’m looking at another way to keep my birding carbon footprint low for 2015. Talk about long range planning! With a new app called, “Count Circle” I can draw a circle similar to a Christmas Bird Count circle around my home. It contains some of my most popular birding areas and lot’s of areas to be explored. It will give me a reason to get to know my neighborhood and keep me close to home. Much of the area can still be done by bus and bike. To show what a great area I live in, the circle contains the Point Cabrillo Light Station, Russian Gulch State Park, Mendocino Headlands State Park, most of, if not all, of the Woodlands State Park, Van Dame State Park and Navarro Beach State Park. It contains Big River and the Caspar Upland Trail and also a large portion of Jackson Demonstration State Forest. It contains lot’s of the Pacific Ocean. I might have to charter my own boat.

 I plan to continue this blog with posts on birding, biking, public transportation and climate change. They just will not be as frequent. My wife gave me a great Christmas present. It consists of putting my logo, “Greenbirdingmendo” on a hat, jacket, tee shirts, a banner and business cards. So the adventure will continue.

P.s. 1/19/14

I have entered my “local” patch, the Little River Airport, in the “PATCHWORKING CHALLENGE”. More information about this challenge can be found on the “Green Birding” website.


Wrap Up 1–The Birds

When I started last year on my experimental “green” year I thought that 240 birds were possible. After the year got off to a good start I raised the expectations to between 240 and 260 birds. My final total was 250. Was 260 possible. I’ve checked previous September Pelagic trips and I could have added a good 9+ species to my list. Some Jaegers, Fulmars, Murrelets, Shearwaters, Petrels, and Terns come to mind. As you know from reading this blog, the September Pelagic trip for 2013 was canceled due to bad weather. A good fall vagrant migration would have added 1 or 2 birds. So yes 260 was possible. My previous best year for Mendocino County using my normal methods of birding by truck was 263 birds. I normally average somewhere around 240. So I wasn’t bird deprived in 2013 using the MTA, my bike, and my feet. This screen shot shows that I was competitive with other Mendocino County birders.



I added 8 new Mendocino County birds to my list. Two of them were lifers. The best bird was the first documented sighting of a Curlew Sandpiper in Mendocino County, a lifer for me.

The second best would have to be the Brown Booby seen during a rough spring pelagic trip. Also a lifer for me and possibly the best pelagic trip picture I’ve ever taken.

Some other first Mendocino birds were a Black-throated Sparrow one of maybe only five seen in the county.

A very disheveled White-winged Dove.

I found three Tropical Kingbirds during the year.

Birds I didn’t get pictures of were the Northern Parula. Would have tried but the bird was flitting around the windows of a private residence and I felt it was unethical as a photographer to take pictures. Felt uncomfortable even viewing the bird. Both the Great-tailed Grackle and the Rough-legged Hawk were to far off to get a picture.

Some other pictures of birds seen are below. Note that not all of the pictures were taken during 2013.

Laysan Albatross.

Parasitic Jaeger.

American Avocet.

Semipalmated Sandpiper.

2013 seemed to be the year of the Pectoral Sandpiper.

Glaucous Gull.

Common Gallinule.

My shorebird scattering Peregrine Falcon.

A recently arrived Rock (Sand) Sandpiper.

I apologize to all the other birds seen and photographed during the year. This has to end somewhere.

Last is a picture of the male Snowy Plover that nested in 2013 on Ten Mile Beach. He has been seen in the wintering flock this season. Will it happen again? Only time will tell.