Drought, Wandering Pelicans, Wastewater Heat, and Ravaging Rabbits

A bunch of nooze today! First, Sam Eaton with PRI's The World, takes a look at the ripple effect of the current US drought:

Why the US Drought May Be Felt Around the Globe

You might not know it to look at, but farmer Ben Keil’s corn crop is in big trouble. The familiar tufted ears can look normal and make the usual rubbery pop when you pull them open, but, Keil says, even in late July most of them don’t have many kernels. And down below, the dirt sits loose and lifeless underfoot.

“It’s never had enough rain to melt back together,” he says.

Kiel’s 1,600 acres in northwestern Ohio have been decimated by this summer’s drought. He could be considered among the lucky farmers in this part of the country. At least his corn is still alive. This summer’s drought is even worse to the west in Indiana and Illinois. But Keil says the end result is pretty much the same.

“Realistically, you can’t expect the stock to even produce an ear that’s harvestable,” he says, “even with beneficial rains from here on out the rest of the summer. The corn’s already reached pollination and it’s pretty well done.”... Read, hear and see more.


Alex Breitler of San Joaquin's Record investigates the sudden appearance of brown pelicans in some unexpected places:

Rare visit from birds may be sign of trouble

When a coast-dwelling, ocean-diving, fish-gulping brown pelican flies to Bakersfield in search of food, something seems very wrong.

Experts are trying to figure out why so many young pelicans are making their way inland this summer - from a Yolo County dump to a Merced County golf course to a Bakersfield park.

White pelicans are common in the Central Valley, but the brown pelican is a rare visitor even to the Delta.

Last year, a brown pelican loafing in the Lake Lincoln area of Stockton caused some excitement in the local birding community. Then, just last week, a boater spotted what was probably a brown pelican perched on a river bank near the Stockton Golf and Country Club.... Read more.


Ashley Ahearn with KUOW talks with some folks who are looking to the sewers to power Seattle:

King County Opens the Door For Heat Energy from Wastewater

 Jessie Israel looks down into an open sewage pipe at a construction site near Discovery Park. She handles resource recovery for King County’s Wastewater Utility.

Stinky water rushes beneath the construction worker’s feet. But Israel doesn’t think about it as stinky water.

“The vast majority of what’s going out to the plant is water from running our laundry, the sink, your shower this morning,” she says. “We flush a lot of hot water, a lot of energy, down the drain and you can see it right here. We’re trying to figure out how to capture that and use it in buildings.”... Read and see more.


Remember the fierce bunny in Monty Python's Holy Grail? ("Sharp, pointy teeth!")





Well, the portrayal might not have been so far from the truth - especially if you're a rhinoceros auklet. Craig Welch at The Seattle Times tells us the story:

Rabbits ravage seabird populations on Destruction Island

Peter Hodum crouched high above the crashing surf and jammed his arm into a tunnel of dirt.

An infrared camera was strapped to his face, and his right hand held the cordlike lens, which he snaked through a long earthen bunker that had been dug by a bird.

The biologist and his colleague, scientist Scott Pearson, had come to this steep uninhabited pile of rocks to catalog the decline of the rhinoceros auklet, a gray seabird that nests deep in hollowed-out hillside burrows. But instead of spying one of the white-eyebrowed creatures, Hodum came eye to eye with the most likely cause of its decline.

"Oh, there's a rabbit in here!" Hodum whispered. "Wow, look at that. I see you!"

Even here, in one of the Northwest's most remote places — an out-of-the-way island so wild and ecologically sensitive it is now largely off-limits to people — humans have managed to upend the natural system.

And we did it the way we have on more than 800 islands around the world: We brought bunnies.... Read and see more.

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