Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Face Of Clean Energy

The face of clean energy is not necessarily a pleasant one.

Summer is coming to a head here in Pennsylvania. It looks like summer. It feels like summer. The corn is high, the grass is green, the trees are leafy and luxurious, the cicadas are loud, the fireflies are out. The weather is hot and humid, and thunderstorms threaten us daily.

But summer, my friends, is gone. Where did it go? I couldn't tell you for sure. But one theory put forth by the great ornithologist Felonious Jive suggests that summer is physically torn from the land and carried away, piece by piece, by the millions of birds and bats that have already begun their steady migration South. The metaphysics involved this undertaking are staggering, to say the least, but I think this is the most scientifically sound theory, by far, that has surfaced in the public consciousness.

Fall migration has been interesting so far, although not overwhelming. I did manage to find a breeding plumaged Sabine's Gull at a nearby lake, which constitutes the state's 13th or 14th record if The Bird Police deem it to be worthy.....but if not, who really cares? Everything seems to be flocking together, and I think some migratory goodness is bound to come my way pretty soon....although I do enjoy the summer holdover Upland Sandpipers at our project site, and I hope they stick around for a couple more weeks.

More and more bats are showing up under the turbines, and it makes me wonder how many will fall to rotor blades across the country this year. It must be a staggering number. The study I am working on is the first of it's kind in the United States (and third in the world) to see how reduced cut-in speed (i.e. slowing down the speed at which the rotor blades turn) can affect bat mortality, and the results are pretty positive so far....roughly 70% reduction in mortality rates at the curtailed (slowed) turbines with marginal power loss as a result. In other words, the juice is worth the squeeze.

With wind energy projects popping up everywhere faster than you can say "Republicans hate poor people", it is crucial that people are aware of what they can do to wildlife. Hopefully these bats (Hoary above, Little Brown below) didn't die terrible, gruesome, painful deaths for no reason at all.

This duder has been dead for a few days.....its covered in maggots from the inside out. Delish.

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