Saturday, April 23, 2016

It's a Beautiful Day; Climate Change Has Arrived!

Figure 1.
Winter temperatures in coastal Southern California have been
far above any other year in living memory prior to 2014.
As the cool coastal fog and Mediterranean climate fade into distant memories it's very disturbing to hear the most ubiquitous phrase uttered by unaware people whenever the sun makes an appearance "What a Beautiful Day"! Such beautiful days are usually accompanied by dirty air, unnatural heat, high humidity, spare the air days, and cars-full of people spewing CO2 in a frantic effort to seek some relief from the heat (at their Peninsula homes) by traveling to the coast!  In the past heat waves inland usually generated wonderful fog banks on the coast that served as a deterrent to large crowds seeking sun by traveling to the coast. This has all changed Climate Change has arrived and the population at Half Moon Bay and surrounding areas are getting a first hand experience of how Climate Change is adversely affecting their very way and quality of life. Increased traffic is just the beginning, consider the warming ocean, with many warm water species, birds, fish and turtles appearing in cooler northern latitudes, many species are seeing a diminished food supply as sardines and anchovies to name a couple are getting re-distributed and species that depend on this food supply are dying in droves, California Seal Lions and Common Murres come to mind! Sea levels are rising and the surf is pounding the coast causing much damage and emergency repairs, Surfers Beach, Miramar, and Pacifica are being particularly hard hit. Reduced fog on the coast will adversely effect the remaining redwood trees as their moisture comes from the fog.

Figure 2
If you take the pulse of local people thru conversations and web sites such as Nextdoor the prevalent concern is increased traffic on the coast.  People speculate, oh it's the tunnel or we need roundabouts, more traffic lights, more lanes, more roads, but Climate Change, you must be kidding? As a long term coastal resident, there is no question Climate Change is adversely affecting our traffic and has been for several years. In the past warm clear weather brings people in droves driving highway 92 from the hot peninsula to the coast to seek relief from the heat and enjoy beautiful days in cool comfort. This is especially true in the summer on weekend days. We have been in a drought now for 4 years and even after finally getting average rain this year the drought persist and and the temperatures climb. In the past coastal residents got breaks from the gridlock traffic thanks to large beautiful fog banks that would envelop the coast for days on end in summer and winter. In winter time rains would dampen the the desires of visitors to clog our streets. That's gone, our wonderful cool Mediterranean climate has changed, and the once cool coast is heating up in disturbing fashion!  The chart below (figure 1) by NOAA shows the average coastal temperatures from January-March for coastal Southern California from 1900 to present day.   Winter temperatures in coastal Southern California have been far above any other year in living memory prior to 2014. Figure 2 shows the mean temperatures for February thru March 2016 and the deviation from the 1981-2010 normal distribution. Consider this it took a strong El Niño to produce just average rain, the next El Niño may be 18 years away, a long time to wait for drought relief!

Meanwhile climate deniers sit at their computers, google scientific nonsense and spin it to fit their uninformed beliefs. I have a suggestion for such folks, get acquainted with your very own habitat, peek outside, take a walk, look at the trees and clouds, they have a message for you, our planet is stressed, mankind is exploiting and raping it's very own support system, the planet will survive, mankind, it's doubtful!    

Monday, April 4, 2016

Black Skimmers of Radio Road

BlackSkimmer Composite
Radio Road is birders term for some sewage treatment ponds located in Redwood Shores California. It's a popular destination for birders and bird photographers in the Bay Area.

On its website, the Sequoia Audubon Society says that SBSA’s landscape impoundment “is a perpetual favorite among local birders, for its fabulous numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds, and the constant hope, often fulfilled, of rarities. It is not uncommon to see over 10,000 birds from the security of your car, all close enough to be identified with binoculars (although a scope is a spectacular asset at this location. The popular SBSA “pond” that greets visitors to the plant at 1400 Radio Road, Redwood City – at the southeast end of Redwood Shores – is technically called a landscape impoundment. It was created in 1998 on the west side of the treatment plant to eliminate dust from the dry barren dirt in the area. 

The ponds at radio Road were drained sometime in 2013 due to a bird die off. It's believed the birds had the avian cholera  and thus the ponds were drained to eliminate this threat. Recently the ponds have been filled again and many birds have returned. However it looks like the sewer plant is going to rearrange their property and these ponds will be drained it about two years! That certainly looks like the end to this wonderful avian spot. 
Radio Road

Black skimmers have been observed in the Bay Area since 1994. They were first observed in California in 1962 and in 1971 in bodega Bay the first Northern California sighting. It's estimated that there is a small resident population of maybe 30 to 50 birds in and around the south bay. The radio Road area is perhaps the northern most boundary. I did observe 2 skimmers one time at the pillar point Harbor.  They have been hanging around radio road for at least the last seven years at least that's the first time I've seen them. It's been pretty certain that a visit to radio Road will be rewarded by seeing these birds.

Mixed Flock Skimmers and Shoveler.

Black Skimmer in Flight!

Skimmers hang together on little Islands!

Time for a big swallow of H2O!

Skimmers love flying in mixed flocks!

Sometimes they fly in formation around the ponds!