Monday, March 30, 2009

Sheer Idiocy

This kind of thinking from our elected leaders scares the crap out of me.

More of the same here.

Translation: the Earth will end when God decides it ends, so damn the torpedoes and drill baby drill.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Since it's Sunday...

...I'll give the devil his due.

Thanks to Mike for sending this one, taken yesterday in Double Springs, Alabama. Yes, it's genuine, and not one of those fake church signs (like the bottom image here). More of these real signs to be posted here another time.

About 120 miles east of Double Springs is Section, Alabama, the hometown of the Louvin Brothers, who released this 1960 album:

And along I-65 just north of Prattville, AL this sign (on the property of WS Newell) has long warned passers-by:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ivorybill Photo Hoax

Anybody can do this.

For the past couple of weeks there's been some buzz on certain blogs about a blurry "possible" ivorybill woodpecker color photo taken in 2007 by Steve Sheridan (the image above is not it.) All links to that photo are now down, as far as I can tell. It was supposedly reviewed by a team of 20 experts for 18 months, and apparently nobody concluded (or even seriously suspected?) it was faked. There were elements to it that I thought looked odd, but of course hindsight is 20-20, and I was certainly intrigued, and I really hoped it was legitimate. Well, the cat's out of the bag, and apparently Sheridan has confessed. I hope (OK, even suspect) there are still ivorybills out there, but this kind of behavior from an individual previously regarded as a serious searcher only lessens hopes. An anonymous commenter to a recent Ivorybills LiVE! blog post (before the hoax was revealed) pretty much echoes my feelings on this:
"Perhaps some people enjoyed this exercise, but I found it discouraging. I believe the IBWO is out there because my BS-detector told me to trust some of the strangers who said they saw it. This search has been a big preoccupation of mine for years. However, a developing parallel between this and Bigfoot (which I don't believe exists) is a sub-culture that includes expert ambiguous evidence analysts on the internet with a never-ending supply of ambiguous “evidence” to analyze. It's creepy, and it makes me wonder if I'm really a chump for spending the time, money and energy I have on this search."
Sheridan will forever be remembered by ivorybill buffs as a fraud. The last putative color photo of the bird seriously put forward was taken in Louisiana by Fielding Lewis in 1971, and can be viewed here (.pdf). Lewis was accused by some of faking this photo, but he maintained until his dying day that it was legitimate.

ADDENDUM: Sheridan has apologized here, but the damage is done. Now what will happen if/when someone comes forth with "good" photo evidence? Forget about still photos. Even a National Geographic documentary-quality video of adult ivorybills feeding young at the nest cavity will be doubted by some, because a skilled CGI tech can realistically simulate anything these days. Look at this:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Burn Video

Just posted this video of yesterday's burn and some from this morning:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Burn Day

Fire at Gator Pond

Today was a special day here at Gator Pond. Keith Tassin, Brian Martin, and five top-notch seasonal TNC burn crew members were here to conduct a prescribed burn. Smoke was in the air a little after 10:00 AM while a north wind pushed smoke well away from the adjacent Conecuh National Forest Open Pond Campground, as prescribed in the burn plan. By 11:30 the wind unexpectedly switched and was coming out of the south, meaning we were starting to "smoke 'em out," so the burn was stopped early. Rules are rules, and we got about halfway done. But there's a good firebreak in place and I think with some help from a few local friends (you guys know who you are) we should still be able to get the rest burned this year. Huge thanks to Keith, Brian, and crew for the great work, and to Randy Roach (USFWS retired) and Traci George (ADCNR) for helping arrange this through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, through which we both participate and benefit. Below are some more pics.

"Your safe place is in the pond." Yes, I heard Keith say it.

Maidencane on fire, with Gator Pond seven feet lower than normal. Click for detail.

Five of the crew holding the line. Karan said they looked like Ghostbusters.

Wind shift! Tassin & crew were glad we had an interior road for a back-up firebreak

Where did all this longleaf come from? Hope it's OK!

Smoky sunset. Click for more detail.

Maggie the Fire Dog

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lifting Tin

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Black Racer

Ten minutes ago I walked out into the brisk morning air (38 degrees at 9:30 AM) and lifted a couple of pieces of roofing tin I put out for snakes. Cold as it is, the sun was out, and a couple of snakes had emerged from the underground network of rodent burrows to enjoy the warmth. The black racer was no surprise, but it was a real treat to see this young-of-the-year eastern diamondback rattlesnake. The same piece of tin with the racer had both a coachwhip and a corn snake under it last week. Late winter is a good time to be a herpetologist in the South.

03 03 09

Happy Square Root Day. Next one (04 04 16) will be seven years, one month, and one day from now.