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“ATBI identifies 5,000-plus species — 1/10/07

I have written several columns regarding this ambitious program to document all species within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which began on Earth Day in 1998. By January 2007 over 5,000 species new to the park had been recorded and 651 of those were new to science.

Winging it

It’s that time of year again when passing fronts will mean passing visitors at Lake Junaluska. Waterfowl were riding the cold winds that kicked up on Thanksgiving.

Pardon the irruption

Common redpolls have been reported in Chatham County and evening grosbeaks in Catawba County here in North Carolina. Bohemian waxwings and pine grosbeaks have been recorded from Maine to Michigan and Wisconsin. It looks like winter finches may be on the move.

Aerial assassins

Alaskan shooters are poised to take to the skies again this year to slaughter as many wolves as possible. This is about to happen despite the fact that the Airborne Hunting Act of 1972 makes the use of aircraft to shoot or harass animals illegal and despite the fact that the citizens of Alaska have voted twice, once in 1999 and again in 2000 to ban the practice. Enough signatures have been collected this year to put the issue on the ballot again in 2008.

It’s a little unsettling to hear your kindergartner’s voice when you answer the phone at midday. But I could tell immediately from Izzy’s voice that she was OK — just a bit excited.

OK, now that I’ve got your attention — there has been a recent flurry of hyperbole, rhetoric and misinformation regarding the Waynesville Watershed and its management plan. Clearly this flood of ink was designed to influence town elections.

Spookables

It’s Halloween and goblins, ghouls, witches and vampires are wreaking havoc — and that’s before they get all that sugar in ‘em. And what would Halloween be without bats? Not a single haunted house will be without these fiendish creatures, waiting to suck your blood or fly into your hair if you happen to be a woman of female persuasion. And sometimes bats are not really bats but vampires and witches in disguise.

I’m so dizzy

I tripped over the equinox and fell backwards away from the sun, and now I’m spinning so fast it takes me longer to raise my head high enough to see the sunrise. The light quickly passes my feet before waffling in the dusk and turning to darkness.

Recovering a ghost

NBC News did a segment of their “Fleecing of America” on the $27.8 million proposed by the recovery plan, which prompted a flurry of emails in the blogosphere and across birding listservs noting that $27.8 million was a paltry sum — a mere drop in the bucket. Well, yes and no.

For the more intrepid sojourner, the word “wilderness” may conjure up visions of Death Valley, the Alaska Peninsula or the Atchafalaya Swamp. For a soon-to-be 2-year-old and a soon-to-be 6-year-old, a wilderness may be as close as a nearby weedy hillside.

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