Summer Time Is Beach time

Even though the summer sun can be quite hot here in Boca, in one respect we don’t have it nearly so bad as people who live farther north. Our maximum temperature is usually quite a bit cooler than the maximum in places like Washington, D.C. or New York. We may get warm sooner, and stay warm longer, but for us a killer heat wave is the mid-90s.

As Henry, Portier, and Coyne describe it, the average annual maximum temperature in southern Florida is 5° less than “most areas east of the Mississippi River and south of the Great Lakes” (7).

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Monterey Bay pelagic birding

I took a very brief business trip to California last week. Flew in late, had a late dinner at the best Chinese restaurant in the world (Golden Willow in Concord, if you’re curious). Met clients in the SF Bay area on Thursday morning, then drove down to Monterey for Friday morning meetings. The entire trip was very short; I had only 45 minutes at Moe’s, and barely enough time for dinner with Mom coming and going from SFO!

Despite feeling rushed throughout, and having a mild case of sinus congestion and cold symptoms, there was no way I would have […]

The seabird syndrome

Tony Gaston’s Seabirds: A Natural History (Yale UP, 2004) is a book-length exploration of an idea that he calls the “seabird syndrome.” Based on the idea that feeding ecology in the marine environment is what drove the evolution of all seabirds, Gaston’s treatment ties together almost every aspect of seabird life that one can imagine. Taken in this light, seabirds’ “low reproductive rates, long lives, deferred breeding, coloniality, and sexes that behave alike and look alike” can be explained by that one element of their lives: their feeding ecology. All of the above characteristics of seabirds “form part of a […]

Fish oil

First, thanks to all of you on Facebook for wishing me a happy birthday; I did indeed enjoy a wonderful day. Seeing all your good wishes brought a smile to my face; I understand that’s somewhat out of character for the traditional man turning 40. So be it. I’m smiling, so thanks, y’all! Now, yesterday’s post was about WD40, which is NOT made of fish oil. So today’s post needs to be about, well, fish oil.

What is it good for? Everyone knows, nowadays, that fish oil is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which apparently we need in order to […]

At sea with the birds

I’m getting ready for a pelagic trip in California in October, so I’ve raided the shelves at Broward County’s downtown library for reading material about seabirds. What I know so far:

Seabirds have evolved various strategies for excluding/excreting the salt that is an inevitable part of a life spent at sea. The most familiar such strategy is the development of tubes on the outside of the bill that seem to function as salt excreters and sense-of-smell enhancers. Seabirds all look like gulls, and all gulls look alike. I’m joking, sort of. I’ve gotten pretty good at separating some gulls (ring-billed […]

Sea and Coastal Birds of North America

Some interesting tidbits from Scott Leslie’s Sea and Coastal Birds of North America: A Guide to Observation, Understanding and Conservation. Nothing unusual, but nothing I’d thought of before either:

Seabirds (gannets, alcids, cormorants) tend to bunch up for breeding, favoring crowded, but out-of-the-way sites. Shorebirds, on the other hand, disperse widely for breeding, but bunch up at migratory stopover sites. Sea ducks, which we don’t see down here in South Florida, tend to be widely dispersed almost all the time, but might flock in winter.

The fact that I didn’t know these things about this entire category of birds means […]