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Category: Birding

Winning art chosen for 2011 California duck stamp

The winning artwork for the 2011 California waterfowl hunting stamp. The winning design for California’s 2011 duck stamp was selected at a judging event May 19 on the steps of the State Capitol building in Sacramento.

Shari Erickson of Beaver Creek, Ore., won for her painting of a pair of Barrow’s Goldeneye, the species for this year's competition and stamp. This was Erickson's first duck stamp contest win.

"I absolutely love Barrow’s Goldeneye. They’re my favorite bird to paint, which is really what provoked me to enter this duck stamp contest," Erickson said. A nature and wildlife artist since 1985, Erickson has been entering duck stamp contests since 2009.

The image beat out 15 other entries submitted by artists nationwide and will adorn the 2011-12 stamp. In past years, waterfowl hunters were required to affix stamps to their hunting license but this year, with California moving to an automated licensing system, hunters are no longer required to carry the physical stamps in the field -- proof of purchase prints directly onto the license. The stamps will now be mailed, upon request, to license-holders at the end of the hunting season.

The Department of Fish and Game sells about 70,000 duck stamps annually, including sales to collectors. In addition to the stamps, the department typically issues signed, limited-edition prints also valued by art collectors. Since its inception in 1971, the California duck stamp program has raised more than $22 million, and the money can only be spent on waterfowl-related conservation projects. It is the first, and oldest, state duck stamp program in the country.

The original art will be on display, along with the second, third and two honorable mention pieces, at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Assn. art show, July 15-17 in Sacramento.

The entire library of California duck stamps can be viewed on the DFG website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: The winning artwork for the 2011 California waterfowl hunting stamp. Credit: Department of Fish and Game

 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national survey to begin

Laying the groundwork for a day of duck hunting, Jim Fisher tosses a decoy as his dog, Willow, looks on.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin conducting its national survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation and are requesting that hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts participate if contacted for interviews scheduled to begin April 1.

The information, collected by the U.S. Census Bureau primarily through telephone interviews to be conducted April to June and September to October this year and January to March, 2012, provides the only comprehensive statistical database available on Americans' participation in and spending on hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching in the 50 states.

"We appreciate the anglers, hunters, birdwatchers and other citizens throughout the United States who voluntarily participate in the survey when contacted," said the wildlife service's acting director, Rowan Gould. "The survey results help wildlife and natural resource managers quantify how much Americans value wildlife resources in terms of both participation and expenditures."

The survey, conducted every five years since 1955, will involve 53,000 households from the Census Bureau's master address file. From this information, the bureau will select samples of 19,000 anglers and hunters and 10,000 wildlife watchers and follow up with further detailed questions.

"The last survey published in 2006 revealed 87.5 million Americans enjoyed some form of wildlife-related recreation and spent more than $122.3 billion pursuing their activities," said Hannibal Bolton, assistant director for the service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. "The survey is a critical information resource for federal and state wildlife agencies, outdoor and tourist industries, local governments, planners, conservation groups, journalists and others interested in wildlife and outdoor recreation."

Participation is voluntary and all responses are confidential. Preliminary survey findings will be available in spring 2012 with final reports issued beginning in the fall, to be posted on the restoration program's Web page.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Laying the groundwork for a day of duck hunting, Jim Fisher tosses a decoy as his dog, Willow, looks on. Credit: Fred Greenslade / Reuters

 

Great Backyard Bird Count begins Friday

Flowers attract a hummingbird.

It's time to break out the binoculars, birding books and notepads and get outside in the name of science.

Birding enthusiasts both novice and expert are encouraged to participate in the 14th annual Great Backyard Bird Count Friday through Monday across the U.S. and Canada.

"Whether people notice birds in backyards, parks or wilderness areas, we ask that they share their counts," said Judy Braus, Audubon’s senior vice president of Education and Centers. "It’s fun and rewarding for people of all ages and skill levels."

A joint project of the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada, it's an opportunity for people to monitor the bird activity in their neighborhoods. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes, or for as long as they wish, on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online.

"When thousands of people all tell us what they’re seeing, we can detect changes in birds' numbers and locations from year to year," said Janis Dickinson, director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Last year, birders turned in 97,200 checklists -- a nearly 4% increase over the prior year -- identified 602 species and counted 11.2 million individual birds.

The GBBC website is chock-full of useful information, including printable regional tally sheets, frequently asked questions and information on entering the annual photo contest.

The survey is conducted in February to provide a snapshot of how birds are surviving the winter and where they are located just before spring migrations begin in March.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Flowers attract a hummingbird. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

California Department of Fish and Game announces 2011 duck stamp contest

The 2010 California duck stamp art, portraying of a pair of redheads, by Timothy Taylor of Mine Hill, N.J.

The California Department of Fish and Game is inviting artists nationwide to submit their original work to the 2011 state duck stamp contest.

The image must depict a male and female pair of Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica), the species selected by the California Fish and Game Commission for the 2011-12 stamp, which all state waterfowl hunters must purchase.

The artwork needs to be original and hand-drawn, and can be in the medium or combination of mediums of the artist's choosing (with some exceptions, which are not eligible and will be disqualified if entered). Complete rules are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/duckstamp/contest/rules.

Entries will be accepted from March 1 until April 30 and must be accompanied by a completed participation agreement, an entry form and a nonrefundable $50 entry fee payable to "California Wildlife Foundation."

Entries will be judged at a public event to be held in Sacramento in May. The top submissions will also be showcased at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Assn. art show in July.

In past years, waterfowl hunters were required to affix stamps to their hunting license. This year, California has moved to an automated licensing system, and hunters are no longer required to carry the physical stamps in the field -- proof of purchase prints directly onto the license. However, the Department of Fish and Game will still produce the stamps, which will be mailed at the end of the hunting season.

The department sells about 70,000 duck stamps annually, including sales to collectors. In addition to the stamps, the department issues signed, limited-edition prints also valued by art collectors. Since its inception in 1971, the California duck stamp program has raised more than $22 million, and the money can only be spent on waterfowl-related conservation projects. It is the first, and oldest, state duck stamp program in the country.

The entire library of California duck stamps can be viewed on the Department of Fish and Game website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: The 2010 California duck stamp art, portraying of a pair of redheads, by Timothy Taylor of Mine Hill, N.J. Credit: California Department of Fish and Game

 

Audubon's annual Christmas Bird Count begins Tuesday

An Anna's hummingbird feeds within the upper reaches of Leo Carrillo State Park north of Malibu.

Birding enthusiasts nationwide are encouraged to participate in the 111th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count, believed to be the longest-running wildlife census in the world.

The citizen project, which begins Tuesday and runs through Jan. 5, 2011, helps scientists assess the size of bird populations in local communities.

Count volunteers follow specified routes through a designated 15-mile-diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally -- all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. If observers live within a CBC circle, they may arrange in advance to count the birds at their feeders and submit those data to their compiler.

Those interested in participating, be it at home or with a field party, need to register in advance. There is a $5 fee per field participant per count. Feeder watchers do not need to pay the fee, and all observers 18 and younger may count for free. Fees go toward funding the program and to help cover costs of generating materials, producing the annual summary and maintaining the CBC website and database.

A few of the frequently asked questions and answers posted on the Audobon website regarding the Christmas Bird Count are after the jump:

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Fish and Game Q&A: What to do for a lonely osprey?

Osprey2 In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: We keep our sailboat in the Alamitos Bay Marina and recently have been seeing an osprey perching on another sailboat mast across from ours. This same bird was there last year, and there was another osprey flying around with him. This year, he is the only one there, and he just cries and cries and gets no answer. My husband is very worried about him. Is there anyone we can talk to about this? (Lois and Chuck M.)

Answer: You can assure your husband that there’s no reason to worry about this lone osprey you’re seeing. According to Department of Fish and Game Seabird biologist Laird Henkel, although osprey are typically monogamous, after their breeding season concludes each year the two members of a pair will separate and migrate to different wintering sites. Since they don’t nest in Southern California, any osprey you may see during the winter in your region are likely migrating or just wintering there locally. Because of this, the two birds you saw last year were almost certainly not a mated pair. It’s also unlikely they were a parent-juvenile pair as juveniles also migrate separately from their parents.

The second bird you saw last year may be around again this winter but just in a different part of the bay, or it may have been a bird that has died since last year.

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Federal Duck Stamp contest winner selected

First

The artwork that will grace the 2011-12 Federal Duck Stamp has been chosen.

Artist James Hautman, from Chaska, Minn., took top honors for his acrylic painting of a pair of white-fronted geese. Hautman had won three times before, in 1989, 1994 and 1998.

"I'll tell you what, it just leaves you speechless," said Hautman, who was in the auditorium as the judges voted his art the winner. "Even though I've won it before, it's tough to breathe sitting out there."

The stamp, which all waterfowl hunters age 16 and older must possess, is produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and will go on sale in late June for $15. The stamps also allow free admission to any public national wildlife refuge.

Of 235 entries in this year’s two-day competition, held Friday and Saturday at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, 11 entries made it through to the final round of judging. 

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Docent-led sandhill crane tours begin at Woodbridge Ecological Reserve

Cranes Birding enthusiasts may want to register for one of the sandhill crane wetlands tours taking place at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve (a.k.a. Isenberg Sandhill Crane Reserve) near Lodi.

Scheduled for two or three weekends each month from October through February, the docent-led tours are the only way to access some of the prime viewing areas at the reserve where the large birds migrate for the winter.

The Department of Fish and Game tours begin about an hour before sunset at the South Site and usually last for 2 1/2 hours.

"The greater sandhill cranes are a threatened but stable bird population in the state," said DFG Tour Program Supervisor David Moore. "Wetland tour visitors often comment on their large size and red crown, their beauty in flight, their trumpeting calls and interesting interactive behaviors."

The popular tours are expected to offer better viewing opportunities thanks to some habitat enhancements and structural improvement projects recently completed by the DFG, including a new bird-viewing blind that allows for 360-degree viewing.

An $8-per-person donation is requested, and pre-registration is required as each tour is limited to 30 people. A nice feature is that the DFG website's registration page shows if a certain date is full and, if not, how many spots are available. Tours through November are currently full -- a registration window will open approximately six weeks before each month's tour.

Lodi will be holding the 13th annual Sandhill Crane Festival Nov. 5-7. A separate, expanded tour schedule will be offered those dates.

Greater sandhill cranes, one of the state's largest birds -- about 5 feet tall and with a wingspan up to 7 feet -- are considered a threatened species; an estimated 7,000 are left in California.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Sandhill cranes glide in for a landing. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

Powermonkey-eXplorer portable solar charger uses the sun to power iPods, cell phones and other devices

PMEX_Pink (2) Solar-powered outdoor gear seems all the rage these days, and with good reason. Harboring the useful power-generating abilities of the sun is an idea whose time has come, especially if out hiking, camping or anyplace where one can't just plug in and recharge cellular phones, iPods or other electronic devices.

Enter the Powermonkey-eXplorer. This portable charger is capable of holding enough power to provide an additional 96 hours of standby time on mobile phones, 40 hours of playtime for iPods, five hours on game consoles, 48 usage hours on PDAs and six hours on MP3 or MP4 players. Equipped with compact solar panels, the Powermonkey-eXplorer can also be used to charge devices directly from the sun.

Featuring an LCD screen that displays battery capacity and the level of charge, the Powermonkey-eXplorer also has short-circuit, over-charging and anti-discharging protection. The exterior shell is made of rubberized casing, making it water resistant while helping protect it from nicks and dings even in the roughest situations. Designed for lightweight versatility, the Powermonkey-eXplorer comes with a Velcro strap, handy to attach the solar panel to a backpack for sun exposure to charge devices while on the go.

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Fish and Game Q&A: Can I dive for an extra limit of abalone as a gift to my wife back home?

Divers fill out their abalone report cards after catching their daily limit.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: If I go diving with a friend in Sea Ranch (Sonoma County) and my wife stays home in San Francisco, can I dive one day and gift those abalone to my wife even though she is not with me at the moment? Then the following day, can I dive again, take an additional limit for myself, and then drive home alone with six abalone in my car? I would make sure the abalone remained in their shells and I would carry a letter stating three of the abalone are gifts for my wife. Does she have to be with me in order for me to gift the abalone to her? (Chuck V.)

Answer: This scenario would not be legal. Regardless of your intent, if you have six abalone in your possession, you will be in violation of an overlimit and could be cited and have all your abalone confiscated. Only three abalone may be possessed at any time by an individual, period (California Code of Regulations, Section 29.15[c]).

In order for you to legally gift abalone to someone else, that person must be with you to receive and personally take possession of the abalone. Just carrying a note stating that you intend to gift three of the six abalone in your possession to your wife will not suffice because you are still in possession of an overlimit, and are thus in violation of the law.

 

 

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Federal and junior duck stamps available beginning Friday

Duckstamp

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host a First Day of Sale ceremony for the 2010-11 Federal Duck stamp and Junior Duck stamp this Friday at Bass Pro Shops retail store in Hanover, Md.

In conjunction, the Bass Pro Shops in Rancho Cucamonga will also have first-day cancellations available for purchase beginning Friday. 

The artists of both stamps will be on hand at the Maryland event. Other participants will be Paul Schmidt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assistant director for Migratory Birds; Martin MacDonald, director of conservation for Bass Pro Shops; and Mike Matousek of the U.S. Postal Service.

The design that will grace the federal duck stamp, shown above, features an American wigeon and was painted by wildlife artist Robert Bealle, of Waldorf, Md. Last fall, a panel of five judges chose Bealles' art from among 224 entries at the federal duck stamp art contest, held at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Md.

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Winning art selected for 2010 California duck stamp

The winning artwork for the 2010 California waterfowl hunting stamp.

The winning design for California’s 2010 duck stamp was selected at a judging event Wednesday at the California Energy Commission building in Sacramento.

Timothy Taylor of Mine Hill, N.J., won for his painting of a pair of redheads, the species for this year's competition and stamp, swimming against a backdrop of tules. This was Taylor's first duck stamp contest win.

The image, selected from the 15 designs submitted by artists nationwide, will adorn the 2010-11 stamp required on licenses of California waterfowl hunters.

The stamps will go on sale in August, with proceeds going to waterfowl-related conservation projects. Since its inception in 1971, the California duck stamp program has raised more than $22 million. It is the first, and oldest, state duck stamp program in the country.

The Department of Fish and Game sells about 70,000 duck stamps annually, which includes sales to collectors who value them for their artistic depiction of native ducks and geese. In addition to the stamps, Fish and Game typically issues signed, limited-edition prints also valued by art collectors.

The original art will be on display, along with the second, third and honorable mention pieces, at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Assn. annual Wildfowl Art Festival July 10 and 11 in Sacramento.

The entire library of California duck stamps can be viewed on the DFG website.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: The winning artwork for the 2010 California waterfowl hunting stamp. Credit: Department of Fish and Game

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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