Monday, August 30, 2010

Arizona - continued

Some photos of wildlife taken in and around Sunny Flat Campground in Cave Creek Canyon, AZ.

Arizona Woodpeckers were common in the campground

and were easy to photograph

The local gang of Mexican Jays spent a lot of time begging for food

Yellow-eyed Juncos were very common at higher elevations

Gambel's Quail were common in the desert lowlands below Portal

Nikki believes she has a special power to draw-in flycatchers, like this Cordilleran Flycatcher

Blue-throated Hummingbirds are one of the many special Hummingbirds of southeastern Arizona

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Catching Up - ABA # 500 Whiskered Screech Owl

I have neglected my blog while I have moved across the country and started a new job with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service back in Michigan.  However I intend to continue catching up on posts gradually of birding and other adventures that have occurred since mid May.  To start out with here is a video of my 500th ABA area bird, Whiskered Screech Owl that I took back in late May.  Number 500 ABA is a pretty significant milestone for North American birders, as it is fairly difficult to get to 500 without doing a lot of traveling across the country (or countries if you do a lot of Canadian birding).  Whiskered Screech Owl seems like a pretty decent milestone bird, with a very restricted range in the ABA area, plus I got these killer looks!  Onward to 600!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The plight of amphibians

More than most other groups of animals or plants, amphibians have suffered terribly in recent decades.  Their permeable skin and general preference for the very wetlands that humans seak to drain and destroy have left them vulnerable to a wide range of attacks from habitat destruction to an insidious fungal infection known as chytridiomycosis that seemingly is fatal to frogs and toads (though the fungus and the infection itself are still little understood).  The general result has been a massive wave of extinction not seen in a major vertebrate group in recorded history.  Most of the seeming extinctions have come about as frogs in vulnerable tropical areas have fallen victim to a combination of chytridiomycosis and habitat loss, though other groups of amphibians, including temperate frogs, toads and salamanders have all suffered as well.

Here is a link that highlights 10 "lost" species of amphibians that may have left our midst forever.

There have been "rediscovered" species of amphibians that were percieved to have gone extinct, so some hope may remain for some of these species.  However, now that it has already happened, let us take the example of the vulnerable amphibians as our proverbial "canary in the coal mine" and realize that if we have made the world unsafe for our fellow vertebrates, what are we doing to ourselves?