Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The heat may be ending

And ending for a long time. A couple of decades, maybe.

I'm no scientist - but I found this interesting. With the unprecedented heat we've had lately, it is easy to believe in global warming. The earth is heating up and human's are at least partially to blame.

But how much? Some researchers say that some of what is happening could be a normal occurrence, or possibly an swing in a natural heating and cooling cycle.

When studying effects of volcano's on climate change, researchers funded by NASA found that.

"The pattern of winter warming following the volcanic eruption is practically identical to a pattern of winter surface temperature change caused by global warming. It shows that volcanic aerosols force fundamental climate mechanisms that play an important role in the global change process."

But they go on to say that human interaction could make the effects of volcanic eruptions on climate worse.

If you look at history, there was a mini ice age as recently as the 1800s. could the current warming trend just be us coming back to normal from then? What were the causes of the mini ice age then?

Wikipedia says:
Several causes have been proposed: cyclical lows in solar radiation, heightened volcanic activity, changes in the flow of ocean currents, an inherent variability in global climate, and a decrease in atmospheric CO2 driven by decreased human populations (e.g. due to the Black Death and the Columbian Exchange).

But even more recently, there is increasing evidence that we may be heading towards more cooling. Apparently, some scientists point to shifts in ocean currents as the culprit in a new trend towards cooler weather.

The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.

Their predictions – based on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in
summer by 2013.

According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 – and even the most committed global warming activists do not dispute this.

The article is a good one and worth reading. The article goes on to quote other scientists with similar views.

William Gray, emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Colorado State University, said that while he believed there had been some background rise caused by greenhouse gases, the computer models used by advocates of man-made warming had hugely exaggerated their effect.

According to Prof Gray, these distort the way the atmosphere works. ‘Most of the rise in temperature from the Seventies to the Nineties was natural,’ he said. ‘Very little was down to CO2 – in my view, as little as five to ten per cent.’

I am ignoring a bunch of research on global warming here, I assume we have heard most of these arguments already. What makes things even more interesting is that there are a whole bunch of scientists that believe that global warming may trigger a little ice age.

This article Are We on the brink of a 'New Little Ice Age' discusses just that.

Thinking is centered around slow changes to our climate and how they will affect humans and the habitability of our planet. Yet this thinking is flawed: It ignores the well-established fact that Earth’s climate has changed rapidly in the past and could change rapidly in the future. The issue centers around the paradox that global warming could instigate a new Little Ice Age in the northern hemisphere.

Evidence for abrupt climate change is readily apparent in ice cores taken from Greenland and Antarctica. One sees clear indications of long-term changes discussed above, with CO² and proxy temperature changes associated with the last ice age and its transition into our present interglacial period of warmth. But, in addition, there is a strong chaotic variation of properties with a quasi-period of around 1500 years. We say chaotic because these millennial shifts look like anything but regular oscillations. Rather, they look like rapid, decade-long transitions between cold and warm climates followed by long interludes in one of the two states.

So what to believe? I like to think that since our history is dotted with warmer and cooler periods, cycles make sense. Does human activity most likely exacerbate the changes in our climate and do we need to curb our dependence on fossil fuels? Yeah, probably

For me, a little global cooling would really help my falconry (and that is what it is really all about), and after a hunt the other day with Patrick, I could go for a little cooling.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

That's why it's hunting

When I made the arrangements, the long term forecast said their would be a dip in the high temps last Thursday. By the time the day arrived and I was driving up to meet Patrick, they had changed their tune.

Record highs.......

Oh well, we'll be hunting in the woods, and if it gets too hot - we quit.

I met Patrick (aka Terrierman) Thursday morning to take the terriers out for groundhog. It's something we'd done before on several occasions. Historically, I haven't had groundhogs where I live, though they seem to be moving in, so I travel up his way to give my little terrier experience and time in the field.

Gordon is new at this, but I think he'll eventually do well.

Anyway, we set off in at about eight and the temperature was already over 80. We wandered along the river looking for holes. This whole area was easy walking when Patrick scouted it last winter, but now, it was overgrown and thick with brier, rose, and poison ivy.

The dogs scouted the ground, looking for holes - and we found lots. But no one was home. We gamboled through the heavy brush all morning, but we couldn't locate a single critter. We hunted.

And we hunted.

And the temperature kept creeping up.

At this point, afternoon sends our day into a tailspin, with heat and exhaustion, and lost dogs.

I can't possibly tell the tale as well as Patrick has. Read his post, it's a long one.

All else said. I would do the day all over again.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

Luck is in high demand in South Africa these days with the World Cup going on down there. Apparently,luck is brought about by smoking vulture brains, and the conservationists are worried.

The custom stems from the traditional medicine known in South Africa as muti. The vulture brains are dried, ground up and then smoked in cigarettes which supposedly give the users visions of the future. In addition to dreams of winning lotto numbers or sports teams, practitioners say the practice can give users an edge on taking tests or help their business attract more clients. A tiny vial of vulture brains sells for around $6.50, according to an article from AFP.

Seven of the nine vulture species found in South Africa are endangered in that country, including the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) and the cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres), the latter of which, according to the Cape Vulture Conservation Project, has only about 380 breeding pairs left in the country. (Both species have stronger populations in some other countries.)

Read the rest here.

Beekeeping at the White House

Inside The White House - Bees! from The White House on Vimeo.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Long day

I'm exhausted.

I spent the day doing something that has been needed to be done since the dogs tore up the chicken coop.

When I originally built the coop it was supposed to be temporary, as it was built mostly from scrap wood and packing crates. The condition it was in after the dogs, was bad.

I started this morning around 8:00. I started by tearing down the old coop.

Until there was nothing there but scrap.

I finished framing in the coop and then started working on the run. The heat today was oppressive. The heat index hovered near 100, and the humidity was high.

Thankfully, I was in the shade, but by 4:00 or so, my muscles were cramping and I had completely run out of energy. But I had to finish.

I still need to clean up the site, but by the end - I didn't have any energy left.

The coop was done. I've got some detail work to finish, but it is habitable now.

The babies were transferred into the new digs, and the bigger chickens will go in tomorrow.

All in all, it was a hard days work, but I'm feeling good about the product.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gettin' busy

I'm new to this beekeeping thing, but so far - it's pretty cool. The bees have been busy.

I have no idea how much honey they should be making, nor at what rate we need to add more supers, so my son and I are kind of playing it by ear.

He stoked up the smoker. He's one of those kids who likes fire - so he loves this job. i got on the bee suite and we went to work.

We checked the combs and the bees had been busy, every one we saw was filled with honey. All of this in only a couple of weeks.

We replaced the super, then added another. my son and his friend looked on, smoking the whole time.

It will be interesting to see what happens the rest of the summer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

If I had land

(and time)

My garden would be bigger. I would have an honest to goodness barn divided into sections for my different falconry birds with an aisle down the middle.

Maybe I would have goats.

and I would manage the land. Not for the goats, but for rabbits - and maybe quail or turkey.

Small game would abound.

The interesting thing is that the state wants to support me in my endeavors. NC has sections of their website that is devoted to helping me manage for wildlife.

Here is an excerpt:

Habitat management for rabbits should focus on maximizing screening cover at ground level, providing dense
escape cover to discourage mammalian predators, and providing overhead screening with a minimum of perch
sites to protect rabbits from aerial predators. Many of the techniques discussed earlier under grasslands, croplands,
and idle-area management will provide excellent rabbit habitat. Some other specific techniques are discussed below.
Brush piles bring the quickest response of all management tools. Rabbits
often take over a brush pile the night after construction. Cutting lone
trees and snags that serve as raptor perches will discourage predation
from above and provide materials to develop a brush pile. Place brush
piles close to other cover such as briars, native grasses, fencerows, or
Visit or see Appendix D for links and more information. 49
dense young woodlands. Don’t burn brush piles left from clearing; instead, windrow them in the center of the field
for cover. (See Edge Feathering and Woody Cover Establishment on page 64.)
Create or encourage impenetrable islands of woody or briar cover surrounded by native grasses. This can be accomplished
when clearing land by loosely piling brush or identifying areas of blackberry or greenbrier and planting
native grasses adjacent to them. Windrows should be considered temporary as they melt away after a few years.
Piling brush is an inexpensive way to develop briar, vine and shrub cover. Birds perching on the brush pile will
deposit seeds of many desirable cover plants.
Stands of tall-growing native warm-season grasses typically support good rabbit populations. Switchgrass or Atlantic
coastal panic grass are good choices, if managing specifically for rabbits, because they provide more dense overhead
cover. Properly managed native warm-season grass pastures and hay fields can provide excellent rabbit
habitat. Adjacent fencerows should be protected from grazing, and the larger trees along fencerows should be
killed and felled. The resulting dense growth will provide good rabbit cover.

They have more. Squirrel, turkey, deer, and more. I wonder if your state agencies have something similar?

Oh yeah - I'd also make wine and have a vineyard. Grow grapes, hunt with my bird on my own land. and build a fish pond - a nice big one, with bass and catfish. Grow and eat my own food.

Sounds good.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Missing Hawk -

If you live in the Cincinnati area, keep your eyes out for a large, brown, social bird.

Tucson, the zoo's Harris's Hawk, flew off during a Wings of Wonder demonstration on Sunday and hasn't been seen since, said Cincinnati Zoo spokeswoman Tiffany Barnes.

The bird was born in captivity and may approach humans if she gets hungry, Barnes said.

"They're very concerned," Barnes said of Tucson's handlers. "She's relatively young."

So far, there have been no reports of large birds around the zoo, an emergency dispatcher with the city said Tuesday afternoon.

A Harris's Hawk is a medium to large bird of prey that eats smaller birds, lizards, mammals and large insects. Its habitats include sparse woodland, semi-deserts, marshes and mangroves. Most live in the southwestern United States south to Chile and central Argentina.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Cincinnati Zoo at 513-281-4700.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Speaking of predation

I don't know where I originally saw this video, but it's awesome!


I had a long chat with a neighbor the other day. He is the proud owner of some new chickens and a few geese. He's been trying to get a personal orchard started and recently built a little green house. I enjoyed talking with him.

One of the major point of our discussions was predation - especially by raccoons. It is fairly easy to keep raccoons out of the chickens, just bury the wire a little way under the ground and they stop digging.

Also, raccoons only dig right at the base of a vertical surface. I build a shallow moat of quick-crete around the perimeter of my chicken run and that stops the digging.

Other ideas can be found on the web, including barbed wire, electric wire, and something called a "floppy fence".

But the very next morning, I found that someone had been probing my defenses. Even though my run is fairly secure, there is one area that worries me (since the dogs pulled apart the cage). I still leave out my raccoon trap.

It continues to work.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fox in the dunes

I took Gordon out for a stroll on the dunes late this afternoon. The dunes are a great place to do this as the dog can roam pretty much at will without me worrying about losing him. I knew there were fox up here and one time we chased a raccoon over a hill, but I haven't seen much activity lately.

Very quickly we cam across sign of fox. Their foot prints dotted the sand. Soon we came across scat and then bones.

It wasn't long before we found a den. It was old and part of it had already caved in. When we walked around to the other side, it looked like something had been digging the hole back out. Gordon decided to stick his head in and check things out. he wasn't too interested, so we milled around a bit and moved on.

I figured that would be all we would see of fox. We don't have groundhog in this part of the country so any dens that fox have here, they have to dig themselves. This last hole was shallow and short, about what I would expect.

Then we found another den. This one was high up on a dune. We clambered up to check it out. as Gordon poked around, we stepped through another dig underneath the first. The two seemed to be connected. Maybe the fox were digging a lot deeper than I thought.

Obviously, no one was home in this one.

Soon, the amount of fox tracks increased. They were everywhere.
More scat.

More bones.

And here, a fresh hole. I could smell the musk of something inside, and Gordon was on his toes.

Gordon is new to the going to ground thing. He will tentatively poke his nose here and there to explore, but it has never gotten much further than that.

He was interested in this hole. He poked his nose in, then pushed past his chest. I could hear a soft wuf, wuf, coming from inside the den. I knew that Gordon is basically a wimp and wouldn't engage with anything in the hole, and I was curious what would happen.

The musky smell of fox grew stronger. Gordon put paws to sand and started digging his way further into the sette.

He wiggled and pushed. He would take a break and mark the plants outside the hole, then dig further in. Eventually, his back legs disappeared. He seemed to step up, over a ledge in the burrow, then was gone. I waited.

That was the hardest part, waiting.

Then he wiggled his way back out, butt first. He took a break, panting in the heat. Marked, then went right back in.

He worked the hole for close to 45 minutes. I don't know if he ever saw the fox inside. We didn't find a back door, so it had to be in there. I think it was a good experience. More than I could hope for actually.

We finally moved on and found an old fox carcass (mummy) close to the den. It looked like a young one, but I can't be sure.

It was time to go and we meandered back to the care. On the way, we came across another den. This one was large and seemed to also be active.

That made for at least two, maybe four fox dens in an area of about three acres. Interesting.

We'll come back to play here again.

I'm curious to see how Gordon's interest in fox developes.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Is giving hunted meat to the poor a bad idea?

There is a great debate going on over at The Mindful Carnivore. It started with a simple blog post about hunters donating meat to the hungry. There was outrage.

It is interesting to try to understand the other side. I don't get it, but then again, I eat meat.

Take a look - follow the links - read the comments. Hey, put in your two cents. Its worth your time.

Accepting place

I decided a long time ago that this would not become an "I live at the beach" blog. At some point though I need to address where I live and how it affects me and the animals in my care.

In the course of my inner dialog, I often complain about where I live and how it impacts my hunting.

I live on a little spit of land off of the coast of North Carolina. There is not much to it. We are surrounded by the ocean on one side and the sound on the other. We are only about a mile wide at the thickest part, 200 yard in others. We are windswept and everything we due is based on the ocean and the weather.

I don't have mountains or large tracts of hunt able land. Most areas where I hunt are waterlogged, parts of it impassable due to swamp or bog. In the summer, we are inundated with tourists, which is both good and bad. We lose our elbow room, but they are our main economy.

I could go on, but instead of lamenting what I don't have, I've decided to embrace what I do.

I took my camera with me when I went to work cleaning pools the pother day and napped some pictures. Just random things I would see on any given day as I drive up the beach. Some of it is good, some not - but all of it makes this place what it is.

We have wildlife. More than most people would ever expect. but we are missing some of the staples of other areas. No skunk, no ground hog and not too many rabbits.

But lots of snakes and reptiles, plenty of deer, hog,and squirrel.

Lots of water, lots of boating and fishing, surfing and kayaking.

Tics and spiders and bugs.

And history.

We live in an area that was settled before Jamestown.
The local families can trace their roots back to shipwrecks and sailing vessels, piracy and plunder.

Roots go back to black beard and further to the lost colony.

It is very easy to complain - I know - I'm guilty. It is sometimes harder to appreciate what you really have. I've got access to hunting, I have wildlife, I have natural beauty.

I have space, and birds to trap.

falcons and accipiters.

Red tails

Of course I have family and roots.

I encourage you to take the time to look around and see what you have.

Try no to worry to much about what you don't.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Watch it

My life has been busy with the end of the school year here. I've started my summer job now working weekends so that I can support my teaching habit. Therefore, I've had very little time to write anything.

This was a cool video sent to me by a friend of mine... Watch it.

RARE from Joel Sartore on Vimeo.