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May 27, 2016


“We are accustomed to look for the gross and immediate effects and to ignore all else. Unless this appears promptly and in such obvious form that it cannot be ignored, we deny the existence of hazard.”

This quote is not about Donald Trump’s climate change denials; it is from SILENT SPRING, published in 1962, challenging the notion made popular by the chemical industries of the postwar 50s that “better living through chemistry” was the answer for us all. Rachel Carson was the first scientist to call national attention to the danger caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides by demonstrating their damage–from the insects they directly targeted all the way up the food chain to mammals, including people. The world almost lost bald eagles, falcons and many other species because of it. Carson declared, “A chemical war is never won, and all life is caught in its crossfire.” She was among the first to point out that to save a species, first its habitat must be saved. And she was alone in pointing it out with a literary style and poetry that caught the world’s attention.

Rachel Carson.jpg

Carson began her career as a biologist, writing for what would become US Fish and Wildlife Service. This after receiving her doctorate in biology from Johns Hopkins University at a time when women in science were accused of going to grad school, not to earn a doctorate but to marry one. For USFS, she wrote a scientific paper her boss said was unsuitable for a science publication– but would be perfect for a magazine. Atlantic Monthly was happy to oblige. She followed the article up with many more, and published three books of writings about the sea and its wildlife. Her biology work continued, and she became more and more convinced that pesticides were killers, but not just of “pests.”

SILENT SPRING first appeared in serialized form in the The New Yorker Magazine. It caused an immediate uproar in the agribusiness industry which closed ranks to mount a loud public campaign against Rachel Carson personally. When Houghton Mifflin released the book three months later, it hit the bestseller list. Carson’s science was less a target then she herself was. She was labeled hysterical by the chemical industry, which also criticized her for being childless. But President Kennedy took serious notice, and he went on to create the Environmental Protection Agency. Monsanto, maker of DDT, even sponsored a ride at Disneyland, “Adventure thru inner Space” to win over the public. But Carson prevailed, and years later DDT was banned, allowing affected species to begin on the years-long road to recovery.


Carson’s efforts spearheaded the modern ecology movement, but she never lived to see it. Eighteen months after the publication of SILENT SPRING, she was dead of cancer at 56. Her legacy and her tireless fight continue to keep her relevant, and a quick look at the environment today reminds us that her struggle against unchecked pesticides by agribusiness needs to carry on. Representative Tom Coburn of Oklahoma even now blames her for the spread of malaria, although she never called for a ban on DDT, only for its careful use, and mosquitos have now proved resistant to DDT, something she warned against. Coburn recently blocked a congressional bill to honor her.

But most of all I shall remember the Monarchs”

 Carson wrote this to a friend at the end of her life. I believe she would’ve been horrified to learn that Monsanto is still killing the wildlife she loved, especially Monarch Butterflies. If you’d like to carry on the fight in her absence, there’s something easy you can do–sign this petition calling for the elimination of Monsanto’s indiscriminate use of the pesticide ROUND UP, believed by scientists and admitted by Monsanto to be responsible for the disappearance of milkweed (the only plant Monarch Butterflies can lay their eggs in), and therefore, a large contributor to the looming extinction of the species.

Monarch Petition


On this Memorial Day holiday weekend, you might be looking to grab a good beach read. Well, don’t grab SILENT SPRING. As ornithologist Connor Mark Jamison states, it can be “dense and technical.” Instead grab one of her earlier sea books, full of wonder and and razor-sharp prose. UNDER THE SEA WIND follows three marine inhabitants, including a Sanderling in a vivid, harrowing account. And if you find yourself on Santa Monica bay reading it—you may glance up to see a pelican, a cormorant or a peregrine falcon— which at one time were considered lost to DDT.

Carson is the hero in the survival of untold numbers of species devastated by pesticides.

She’s long been mine. Happy Birthday, Rachel

Full Flower Moon Update – May 21, 2:14 PM PDT

May 21, 2016

Here’s another update from SMBAS Blog on that large, disc-like, shining object which has frequently and mysteriously appeared in our nighttime sky this year (the Illuminati speak of it as the moon).

Full Flower Moon (Tara Sutphen)

Full Flower Moon (Tara Sutphen)

May 21, 2:14 p.m. PDT — Full Flower Moon.   Flowers are abundant everywhere at this time.   May’s full moon was also known as the Full Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.  [Gallery: The Fantastic Full Moon]

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a page for each full moon. One tip: set your eggs on the 16th, 17th or 25-27th. Mark your calendar.

The next significant full moon will occur on June 20, 4:02 a.m. PDT.   Keep an eye on this spot for additional late-breaking news on this unprecedented event.

Have a nice moon photo?  Send it to us at: misclists [AT] verizon [DOT] net, along with name to credit and time/location of photo.  [Infographic: Moon Phases & Lunar Cycles]

This information comes to you courtesy of:
written by Joe Rao.   Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmer’s Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, N.Y.

But that’s waaay too long to type in, and besides, you don’t need to go there because SMBAS has done the work for you!
[Chuck Almdale]

Malibu Lagoon Field Trips: Sunday, 22 May, 8:30 & 10am.

May 19, 2016
Artist's perspective of west channels view from SW corner (RestoreMalibuLagoon . com)

Artists 2012 perspective of finished project
(RestoreMalibuLagoon . com)

Lagoon looking east - compare to Artist's Perspective (R. Ehler 7/27/14)

Channel & Lagoon looking east July’14 (Randy Ehler )

A few wintering birds remain, the migrants continue to come through and our nesting birds will be so busy they’ll hardly notice you.

Some of the great birds we’ve had in May are:   Brant, Pelagic Cormorant, Green Heron, Whimbrel, Bonaparte’s Gull, Royal, Least, Forster’s, Royal & Elegant Terns, White-throated Swift, Anna’s & Allen’s Hummingbirds, Pacific Slope Flycatcher, Common Raven,  Violet-Green, Barn and Cliff Swallows, Bushtit, Bewick’s Wren, Cedar Waxwing, Spotted Towhee, Red-winged Blackbird, Hooded and Bullock’s Orioles.

Prior checklists:
2015:    Jan-May,    July-Dec
2014:   Jan-July,    July-Dec          2013:   Jan-June,   July-Dec
2012:   Jan-June,   July -Dec         2011:   Jan-June,   July-Dec
2010:  Jan-June,   July-Dec           2009:  Jan-June,   July-Dec.

Adult Walk 8:30 a.m. – Beginner and experienced, 2-3 hours.  Species range from 40 in June to 60-75 during migrations and winter.  We meet at the metal-shaded viewing area (see photo below) next to the parking lot and begin walking east towards the lagoon.  We always check the offshore rocks and the ocean.  When lagoon outlet is closed we continue east around the lagoon to Adamson House.  We put out special effort to make our monthly Malibu Lagoon walks attractive to first-time and beginning birdwatchers.  So please, if you are at all worried about coming on a trip and embarrassing yourself because of all the experts, we remember our first trips too.  Someone showed us the birds; now it’s our turn.

Meeting place - What's that animal in the foreground? See photo below of him heading the other way. (Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation 6/18/13)

Meeting place – Hey, what’s that animal in the foreground?
See him heading the other way in photo below.
(Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation 6/18/13)

Children and Parents Walk 10:00 a.m.   One hour session, meeting at the metal-shaded viewing area (see photo above) between parking lot and channel.  We start at 10:00 for a shorter walk and to allow time for families to get it together on a sleepy Sunday morning.  Our leaders are experienced with kids so please bring them to the beach!  We have an ample supply of binoculars that children can use without striking terror into their parents.  We want to see families enjoying nature. (If you have a Scout Troop or other group of more than seven people, you must call Lu (310-395-6235) to make sure we have enough binoculars and docents.)

Directions: Malibu Lagoon is at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Cross Creek Road.  Look around for people wearing binoculars.  Parking in the official lagoon lot is $12+ or by annual pass.  You may also park either along PCH west of Cross Creek Road, on Cross Creek Road itself but be careful – some parts of PCH are off-limits (read the signs carefully), or on Civic Center Way north (inland) of the shopping center.  Lagoon parking in the shopping center lot is not permitted.
Map to Meeting Place
[Chuck Almdale]

Locally known as 'Willie the Weasel' (Cal. State Parks 6/18/13)

Locally known as ‘Son of Willie the Weasel’  (Cal. State Parks 6/18/13)

Walker Ranch (upper Placerita Canyon) Field Trip Reminder: Saturday, 14 May, 7:30 a.m.

May 12, 2016
Wrentit (Tom Grey 4/23/10)

Wrentit (Tom Grey 4/23/10)

Walker Ranch has long been a popular birding area. It has great riparian and chaparral/oak habitats and prospects for migrating spring warblers, flycatchers, orioles, hummingbirds, etc. We can also see swallows, parakeets, thrashers, sparrows and raptors, possibly an owl. Mountain Quail are more often heard than seen. The trails are good and very scenic. Dress in layers. Insects are rarely a problem, except fire ants hills in the tall grass. Carry water and bring your lunch.

Leader: Chuck Bragg (310-454-9662)
Family Guide: Good for all ages.

Map to location (also shows Wilson Cyn & O’Melvany Park)

Directions] San Diego Freeway (#405) north from Santa Monica. From where it merges with Golden State Freeway (#5) in northern San Fernando Valley, continue 3.1 miles, turn onto the Antelope Valley Freeway (#14), then 3.3 miles farther north to the Placerita Canyon Rd. exit.   Turn right (east) and drive about 3-3.5 miles up the canyon (the gate to the lower portion of Placerita Cyn. will be on the right at about 1.5 miles) to a dirt parking lot on the right and the gate to Walker Ranch.   Don’t block the gate with your car.
Meet in the dirt parking lot or just past the gate at 7:30 a.m. (We’ll make an unusually early start to beat the crowds up the street at Placerita Canyon Nature Center, and should be done by 11:00. Bring a lunch if you wish.)
Leader: Chuck Bragg (310-454-9662)

Locals Only: Will You Save a Heron Chick?

May 10, 2016

Ardea_alba_chicks,_Morro_Bay_Heron_Rookery_-_by_Mike_Baird.jpgPhoto Credit:  Mike Baird

If you live on the westside within driving  or walking distance of Marina Del Rey,  you can witness an amazing urban wildlife display  at 13900 Marquesas Way where a heron rookery of at least 30 nests stands. And a  stranded Great Egret, Snowy Egret or Black Crowned NIght Heron chick is probably in the road waiting for you to rescue it before it gets mown down by a car: something that is happening on a daily, if not hourly basis. (This morning, seven dead chicks were discovered). To save a chick, simply provide  your text number for an alert, swing by the marina (parking available), and further instructions will be provided.  Night time drive-bys are also needed. The road is small and quiet. It’s quick–it’s easy–and you’ll be saving a heron chick who would otherwise die in the street. There are people on hand to help. This is a short term act of heroism, as the chicks will fledge and leave the nest soon to go out into the world, provided they can survive today,with your help. DSCN3702.JPG

Photo Credit: Laurel Jones


Please help save the next generation  CONTACT GILDA:








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