By John Bloomfield
The other day I went birding with a friend — for the first time since the term social distancing entered my lexicon. We took separate cars and were careful not to stand too close together. It wasn’t as awkward as I thought. After a while it seemed almost natural. Perhaps in time it will be.
It was good to be outside on an early spring day. Northern Parulas were buzzing and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were making their little wheezy noises everywhere. Brown-headed Nuthatches did their rubber-duck imitation. White-eyed Vireos were singing as if in a chorus. Most of the shorebirds had packed up and left, but we did spy a few Dunlin and two Spotted Sandpipers steadily working the mud bank in front of a marsh beginning to green up with the warmer weather. …
Conservation and cuisine in the heart of Cajun country
We were birding the fields and wetlands in the shadow of the rusted Sabine Pass Lighthouse that guards the border of Texas and Louisiana.
The lighthouse sits at the end of a gravel-and-dirt road was alive on this April afternoon with Orchard Orioles and Summer Tanagers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos and other spring migrants arriving from the Gulf Coast. At the other end of road is a massive liquid natural gas refining facility, one of many changing the landscape of this fishing and farming community.
This is Cameron Parish, population 6,912, one the most vibrant bird habitats in America, every bit as lively but far less traveled than the Texas hotspots on the other side of the Sabine Pass. It’s a delicate balance in this part of the world, where the fuel that heats a global economy clashes with an historical way of life, where rising sea levels and loss of habitat hem in the birds from land and sea, and where dedicated conservationists are working overtime to preserve, protect and restore. …
Wilderness and worry in the Great Plains
North Dakota evokes classic American imagery: big blue skies, open prairies, miles of rugged Badlands landscape, bison roaming in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The images are straight out of Remington, cowboy movies and the nostalgic pull of the legendary American west.
This is the North Dakota of our imagination, and a land worth preserving.
But the skies aren’t always blue and the threats to this land are real. In a state once dominated by agriculture, North Dakota’s biggest crop today is harvested hydraulically on small pads often next to grain or canola fields, sometimes within the boundary of a National Wildlife Refuge. …