Our Little Planet

One of the interesting things to see at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge is the nuclear power plant in the not so far off distance.  It is a tribute to nature’s resilience and diversity that one of the symbol’s of mastery of the resources available to him is readily seen in what is a reminder of the place that we live in.  The little blue marble that hangs like a jewel in the night, that delicate ball of water, minerals, air, the third planet from a smallish yellow main sequence star, the rock that we call Earth.  To walk at Bombay Hook is to appreciate nature’s gift to man.  A place of beauty, a place teeming with life, a place that must be nurtured if it is continue to be a dwelling place for all the creatures that live and visit there.  A place that is a microcosm of the ecosystems around the world that we live in.  We have diverse environments around the world, many of which are threatened by unbridled and undisciplined human activity.  Why do we throw out so much plastic every day, every year?  What happened to water fountains?  Or at least that reusable jug that we carried water in?  We think that the most visible and egregious symbols of environmental destruction are the wanton release of hydrocarbons in the air, the precursor to an unstoppable, runaway greenhouse effect that will doom the planet into a Venus like existence.  The nuclear plants that can release dangerous radiation into the air are often seen as threats to the world we live in.  And yet, they are efficient power generators that provide the electricity to millions of people and make industry and technological advances possible.  There are arguments for eliminating or at least reducing our reliance on systems that threaten the health of our world.  Lost in the discussion is something that we see with our eyes every day.  Our disposable society has made as much of a negative impact on the health of the planet as any other man made “intervention.”

I have some training in science and engineering.  I believe that someday, we will be able to remove gases from the air to lessen the effects of global warming.  We will be able to generate power more efficiently, more cleanly (though I worry about migrating birds running into vast power generating turbines on the shores and in the open fields).  And yet, will the climatic changes that are currently under way be stemmed (or reversed) by some future scientific endeavor?  Also, the debate presupposes that we have all the facts and that the answers are already clear (when it comes to the global warming debate).  I have some questions still.  How much of the perceived global warming is an artifact of human activity and how much of it can be attributed to a natural cycle that we do not understand?  The sun’s radiation output is not uniform.  Random events that release dust and gas into the atmosphere (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, meteor strikes) have short and long term effects on the environment.  If we pass through a “dusty” part of the galaxy, will there be a measurable drop in the amount of solar radiation that reaches the planet and what effect will it have on life?  So many questions left to be asked.  And answered.

All I know is that we must be better stewards of the world that we live in.  Higher efficiency power generation, less reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear power plants.  Less pollution, more recycling.  The mantras of today’s environmental movement.  All good things.  And yet, we can start our own revolution at home.  Use less water when washing clothes.  Use less plastics.  You say they are bio degradable?  If they take hundreds of years to degrade, is that really harmless?  Drive less, walk more.  Use the bicycle a little bit more.  This would mean that the cities and suburbs that we live in may actually look like neighborhoods again.  Accessible stores, libraries, restaurants.  And if you walk enough, you may even meet someone new and interesting.  And if you walk enough, you may see that there are a lot of things that we  individuals can do to keep our planet cleaner.  Safer.  If you walk enough, you give yourself time to think about your own life, and maybe make it better.  So, here’s a random thought.  Walk a mile or two and in your own small way, foster a revolution that will make our planet a better world for all of us.  Today.  And ensure its future as that blue marble teeming with life, a world of varied ecosystems, all in harmony with each other.

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Foxes Big and Small

It’s almost spring!  With winter set to deal one more Nor’easter to the Northeast, it was a good time to visit Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge to see if there are foxes walking around.  Not quite.  The mother and kits were quite easy to spot though.  There were three cars stopped by a pond.  I figured, I’d park behind the other cars and see what was going on.  Soon, other cars parked behind my car.  It was time to listen to music and eat a granola bar.  I thought that there might be an owl nestle in the woods.  Not quite.  It was a fox and her kits.  Not the best view, and they were just basically walking around to check on the humans with the cameras and lenses.

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Delaware Sunrise

I was driving to northern New Jersey for a Christening.  I figured, what the heck, wake up early, try to get to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge by sunrise, and watch the sun rise.  The sun and the clouds and the sky cooperated.

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I came for the birds, and ended up with the sun.

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Reserve

One of the most interesting places to visit in the east coast of the United States is Bombay Hook National Wildlife Reserve.  Is it by Delaware Bay and the reserve is a major stop in the Atlantic Flyway , the route that most birds take when they migrate northwards or southwards.  This means that birds almost always make a stop at Bombay Hook during the spring and fall migration season.  It makes it easier for non expert birders like myself to find birds to photograph.

Bombay Hook is a two hour drive from Northern Virginia.  You head to Annapolis, Maryland and then cross the Bay Bridge towards the Eastern Shore.  You proceed towards Wilmington, Delaware though you actually end up near Smyrna.  Since you need to get to the reserve around sunrise, you generally have to leave at 4AM or a little earlier to get there on time.  Every trip yields different photo opportunities.  Just don’t come here in the summer.  You will be eaten alive by mosquitoes, flies and other biting insects.  Actually, if you have a thick skin and/or love insects (which birds apparently do), this could be the place to be in the summer.  It is only a short drive from the Delaware Atlantic beaches.  It is also a short drive from Wilmington, Delaware.

Bombay Hook has plenty of short walking trails that allow different views of the marshes and pools that dot the reserve.  There are, of course, a lot of trees, bushes, flowers and other things that hide birds (and feed birds) quite well.  My musings on Bombay Hook will be comprised of multiple postings.  I only started visiting this wildlife reserve earlier this year.  It will be a place that I will return to again and again.

The pictures below were taken on my first trip to Bombay Hook (late April 2017).

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