Disaster for Animals

While I have written much about Trump as a disaster for humans, he is no less a disaster for nonhuman animals. Some might argue that his denial of climate change is more or less the end of us, so his other horrifying plans for humans may be a moot point. They may be right. We have a short time before reaching the point of no return and what he may do in terms of policy and action is only going to bring us closer to or beyond that point unless there is some way to stop him. Trump’s appointments, hateful policies, indifference, and ignorance/denial around climate change are going to hasten the extinction of many animals on the brink and kill millions more used in animal agriculture or in the way of animal agriculture.

Trump has a host of villains lined up for EPA and Energy including energy lobbyists and venture capitalists who have made a fortune plundering the environment including Mike Catanzaro (lobbyist), Robert Grady (venture capitalist partner in Gryphon Investors), Harold Hamm (Oklahoma big time fracker), and Larry Nichols (Devon Energy).

Hamm and Grady are also on the list for interior secretary with the addition of Forrest Lucas (Lucas Oil), Jan Brewer (former Arizona governor), and of course, Sarah Palin. Imagining the devastation that any one of these people will do is terrifying.

Grady is remembered for his plundering of pension investments of state workers in New Jersey (under Christie).

Harold “earthquake starter” Hamm is a major fracker responsible for considerable devastation in Oklahoma (and other places).

Remember, Forrest Lucas is the guy who spent thousands defending puppy mills.

Jan Brewer is well known for signing Arizona’s “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighbors Act.” Her qualification for running the agency is an associate’s degree in radiology.

Sarah Palin’s bloodlust needs no introduction. She would be happy to give away our national parks to cattle ranchers and drive wolves, coyotes, foxes, and others to extinction, which of course, would affect raptors and hundreds of other species.

If we can get more terrifying, let’s take a look at Trump’s possible agriculture team. Think unfathomable deregulation. Imagine Sam Brownback or Rick Perry in this position. It may happen. No restrictions on hunting. No restrictions on factory farming. More canned trophy hunts. No restrictions on cruelty of any kind.

We will see how this all plays out over the next couple of months, but it does not look good for animals. Even if you do not give a shit about nonhuman animals, at least take a moment to ponder the connections. An administration packed full of greedy evangelicals who see the earth as God’s gift for them to pillage is going to affect all of us. All of us will drown in that swamp Trump promised to drain.

Ducks on the water

© Chris Taylor

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Wetlands Residents

It is that time of year again when I have trouble staying at my desk and getting my work done. The number of migrants at the Wakarusa Wetlands has been astounding. And, of course, the year-round residents like the deer and bald eagles are always a pleasure to see. Click on pictures to enlarge.

Pelican and ducks

© Chris Taylor

Great blue heron

© Chris Taylor

Bald eagle

© Chris Taylor

Male deer

© Chris Taylor

Running deer

© Chris Taylor

 

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Northern Harriers

The Northern Harriers are back in all of their amazingness. I love watching them skim along the top of the grass. Yesterday, it was especially fun to watch how they were using the wind to their advantage by facing into it, and hovering almost motionless just inches from the ground. This morning, I was taking pictures of the sunrise from behind the tall grass and one was hovering right in front of me. Unfortunately, since the sun was behind him, I did not get much detail of his amazing face, but it certainly was fun to watch him so closely. Click on pictures to enlarge.

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

Northern Harrier

© Chris Taylor

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Meanwhile, at the Wetlands

I did not get to the Wakarusa Wetlands much over the summer, but now that we are heading into fall, I plan to do something about that whenever I can. I took a couple of hours off yesterday to see if what I had been hearing about great numbers of pelicans was true. While a road grater scared many of them away right after I got there, a few remained. It is great to see them in this relatively new space (part of the mitigation for the SLT). While I in no way can speak to the anger and betrayal felt by so many regarding this sacred space, I am choosing to focus on making peace with my relationship with this place that has meant so much to me. I hope it will continue to be a place of relative safety for the beings who live there, and I hope that migrants continue to find it a restful and nourishing spot in the fall and spring.  It was wonderful to see thousands of gulls coming through high overhead and the blackbirds were dining on sunflower seeds. A few cormorants were hanging out in a tree, kingfishers patrolled, and grebes dived. Click on pictures to enlarge.

Sunrise Wetlands

© Chris Taylor

Red-winged blackbirds on sunflower

© Chris Taylor

Red-winged blackbirds in flight

© Chris Taylor

Cormorants

© Chris Taylor

American coot and grebe

© Chris Taylor

Belted kingfisher

© Chris Taylor

Pelicans in a line

© Chris Taylor

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Hummer Travels

I say something like this, every year. There is something both amazing and heartbreaking about watching the hummers in the fall. Most of the adults have left already, so we are now seeing the young ones. Here are these tiny birds, no more than six-months old, who will be crossing the Gulf of Mexico soon. Every year, I watch them camp out near the feeders for several days, even a few weeks sometimes, drinking all they can, fighting to keep that spot, and getting plumper by the day. I start to recognize them. One may have a particular white shape above the eye, or an interesting pattern as the ruby-throat begins to develop. I get attached. I worry about their journey. I watch the weather vane on our neighbor’s house to see wind change. I know a steady north wind may be when they take off, if they have stored enough to get to the next place in their migration south. I know I will never know if they made it, or if they return to our area next year, but I wish them a safe journey. Click on pictures to enlarge.

RT Hummingbird

© Chris Taylor

RT Hummingbirds

© Chris Taylor

RT Hummingbird

© Chris Taylor

RT Hummingbird

© Chris Taylor

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Fall Hummers

After seeing very few hummingbirds in the spring, they are now at our feeders in huge numbers, plumping up for the journey south. It has been so much fun watching them. At one feeder, it seems two adult males are sharing and running everyone else off. They spar with each other, but generally let each other drink. Everyone else has to work a bit harder to get to the nectar. It is an interesting dynamic. Sometimes, it seems aggressive. Other times, it seems more like play. Only they know. Click on pictures to enlarge.

RT Hummingbird

© Chris Taylor

RT Hummingbird

© Chris Taylor

RT Hummingbird

© Chris Taylor

RT Hummingbird

© Chris Taylor

RT Hummingbird

© Chris Taylor

RT Hummingbird

© Chris Taylor

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2016 Spring Yard-Birds

I never mean to wait this long to post. Here are a few of our year-round residents and spring visitors. Most of these are mid-May through mid-June. Click on pictures to enlarge.

Brown thrasher with peanut

© Chris Taylor

Rose-breasted grosbeak

© Chris Taylor

House finches

© Chris Taylor

Orioles

© Chris Taylor

Orchard oriole

© Chris Taylor

Orioles

© Chris Taylor

Gray catbird

© Chris Taylor

Male northern cardinal

© Chris Taylor

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