Thursday, February 16, 2012

Snowy owls draw Joe Neal and friends to southwest Missouri prairie

Snowy Owl stares like I'm a cotton rat, white feathered head and face,  
penetrating bright yellow eyes, long black talons -- obviously up to  
the task -- partially obscured by white feathers. An email from Bruce  
Shackleford, an environmental consultant for the City of Fayetteville,  
details an owl near Asbury, Missouri, that a UPS driver has been  
seeing for five weeks!
The location in Bruce's email is up on the old Ozark prairies near  
Asbury, Missouri, south of Prairie State Park and adjacent Wah-Sha-She  
Prairie State Wildlife Area. Looks like the real deal, so Sally Jo  
Gibson from Harrison, David Oakley from Springdale, and me  
(Fayetteville) are on the road. It's mostly the hilly and currently  
leafless Ozarks. At Bella Vista, 71 runs alongside golf courses and  
limestone overhangs and Tanyard Creek, where we see Great Blue Herons  
standing in nests in tall, white sycamores, whole scene dappled with  
sycamore balls.
At Joplin, chicken house tin is crumbled around upper limbs of bare  
trees, testimony to the tornado of May 22, 2011, 160 lives lost. We  
swing around the city on the east, then north, now on highway 171, and  
pass a village of FEMA trailers for survivors of 7,000 destroyed homes.
We have popped onto old prairies, now mostly converted to vast flats  
of winter wheat.  Minutes ahead: Asbury, then Wah-Sha-She and  
hopefully the owl of Bruce's email. The Kansas line is two miles  
ahead. After rain and melted snow, it's green with emerging wheat,  
brown with fresh planting, mainly open country, very open, like the  
land of Snowy Owls.
It's been three months give or take since owls became birder's  
discussion list headliners. For Arkansans, frustrating months of  
mainly white 5-gallon buckets and wind-blown Walmart bags  
imaginatively and longingly viewed on the backsides of big fields. Now  
there are Lapland Longspurs among Horned Larks and Savannah Sparrows  
in a plowed field. Northern Harriers are everywhere. As we turn off  
171 onto Redbud Road, we spot the familiar 5-gallon bucket, but this  
one slowly turns toward us, with big yellow eyes.
The owl seems to prefer a slightly elevated ground perch formed by big  
gravels, maybe like the windy, bouldery arctic barrens where they  
nest? We take our views from a portable blind -- Sally Jo's car. We  
are pretty close; the owl seems immune to rational fears of, say,  
Red-tailed Hawks persecuted by many generations of Arkansas boys. It  
mainly surveys the other parts of its 360 degree domain.
In truth, we're not in Missouri, Arkansas, or even close to Kansas.  
Welcome to a big field on the continent of North America, within Snowy  
Owl range this winter.
JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas
"I loaf and invite my soul..." -- Walt Whitman

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hope that Audubon members also attend this important meeting with ADEQ people at 6 p.m. Wednesda at Clarion Inn in southwest Fayetteville

Sierra Club's Ozark Headwaters Group to attend ADEQ water-quality public meeting before OHG board meeting Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012

OHG Sierra Club members to attend ADEQ water-quality meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 at Clarion Inn Terrace Room; 1255 S Shiloh Drive near I 540 and MLK JR Blvd. and then the OHG board will convene at 7:15 p.m. at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville. Please carpool if possible 444-6072.
Public Meeting is for citizen input on possible revision of Reg. 2 water-quality standards. 6:00 PM-7:30 PM. ADEQ Contact: Sarah Clem, 501-682-0660;

Monday, February 13, 2012

Woodcock the featured player this weekend in Northwest Arkansas

February 18, 2012 (Saturday evening) Northwest Arkansas Audubon  
Society hosts an American Woodcock field trip to Wedington Wildlife  
Management Area (Ozark NF west of Fayetteville). Meeting time, 5:30  
PM. Field trip led by woodcock expert David Krementz. Dr Krementz will  
provide lots of information about woodcocks as part of this field  
trip. The trip is free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome.
The 450 acre Wedington Small Game Area is located on the northwest  
corner of the Wedington Unit of the Ozark-St. Francis NF, approx. 16  
miles west of Fayetteville & approx. 4 miles east of Siloam Springs.  
The 15,000 acre Wedington Unit is designated as an Urban Forest. We  
will observe woodcocks in the small game area.
DIRECTIONS: From the intersection of HWY 412 and Interstate 540 in  
Springdale, go west approx. 13.2 miles on HWY 412. Note that Kincheloe  
Road bisects 412, with turns north AND south. If you are driving from  
Springdale, you will first pass Kincheloe Rd on your north at approx.  
12.6-12.7 miles; don't turn. Keep going another 0.5 miles and turn  
left SOUTH onto Kincheloe Road and travel WEST for approx. 1.3 miles  
to Forest Service road 1754. We will meet at this intersection  
(Kincheloe and FS 1754) at 5:30 PM. (If you arrive late, drive 1754 &  
find us ? we will be less than a mile away on the road).
STUFF YOU CAN BRING: binoculars, a flashlight, don't wear bright  
clothes, and sturdy walking shoes. You can bring a chair, since we  
will sit and wait for the woodcock displays to begin near and shortly  
after sunset. LOTS of other birds are in the area to enjoy during the  
wait. Mosquitoes could be out if the weather is warm. Overall, this  
should be a fairly easy trip for most folks, including those with  
walking impairments. The woodcock displays should be viewable/audible  
near where we park.
MAPS: if you use Google Earth, type Kincheloe Road Siloam Springs, AR  
into the search.
Finally, if this trip doesn't fit your schedule, here's a  
do-it-yourselfer, around the same time: woodcocks also dance at Lake  
Fayetteville. Last year, birds displayed in the big open field  
immediately WEST of the Environmental Study Center and on the disk  
golf course.
For more information, call Joe Neal 479-521-1858.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Please speak up to protect birds near wind-energy production sites

Please click on live links for full access to site.

Snowy Owl by David A. Krauss

Snowy Owl and windmill by David A. Krauss
American Bird Conservancy needs your help to protect millions of birds from the negative impacts of wind energy!
ABC has petitioned the U.S. Department of the Interior by developing regulations that will safeguard wildlife and reward responsible wind energy development. The more than 100-page petition for rulemaking, prepared by ABC and the Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm of Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, calls for establishing a mandatory permitting system for the operation of wind energy projects and mitigation of their impacts on migratory birds.
Now we are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to open a public comment period on our petition, as the first step in creating rules to protect birds. Please send your comment!

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