Friday, November 30, 2007

More News Stories

Our local Huntington Beach paper, the Independent has a story on the front page about the wall. You can see it by clicking here

OC Register reporter Annie Burris just posted a new story.

No dead birds this morning when I when out with my friend Carrie, but with all the rain, the birds are probably hunkered down.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Experiment number 2

I was out at the wall early this afternoon and ran into Ed Mountford who was putting up this product on some of the glass panes. He said he ordered enough of the product to put 3 decals on each pane of the 4,400 foot long wall. I hope this helps. I haven't found any dead birds today, so it's been a good day.

AM Reflections

As you can see the reflections in the glass are a problem in the morning too. The reflections are above, and the actual scene is below.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sunset reflections

I went back this evening to photograph reflections that might occur in the afternoon. Nice sunset behind the trees huh? Only problem is that the birds will think so too, only to run into the glass wall of death.

Experiment number one at Brightwater

I was out at the wall of death this morning and as you can see from the photo below, the "fix" proposed by Ed Mountford may well be a source of additional problems. The mesh over the chain link is now creating reflections of trees in the glass. So now instead of being invisible to the birds it will appear to them as though they are flying toward trees. Great.

I found the feather remains of what I think was a mourning dove by the wall this morning. Someone or something had taken the bird, but there were enough feathers left behind to indicate the bird was there.

Another Brightwater wall of death story

The local paper, The Huntington Beach Independent has an article by columnist Chris epting about the wall. You can see it at this address.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


A friend of mine sent me this. I think this is a much more accurate description of the development at Bolsa Chica that "brightwater". After all the glass wall of death is a 4,400 foot long blight on the land at Bolsa Chica.

Update from the Wall of Death on the Hearthside Homes site

Due to all the pressure from the public,press, The US Fish and Wildlife Service, and conservation organizations like the Bolsa Chica Land Trust and the Audubon Society, the developer has put up a chain link fence behind the glass wall with a brown fabric over it. The only problem with this idea is that now the trees reflect into the glass and the birds will think they are flying into trees instead of flying into a glass wall.

Ed Mountford now says they will have a biologist monitor the wall and document the bird deaths. I just got back last night from out of town, and will be going out daily. I found a dead female Anna's Hummingbird a few feet from the wall this morning. She was still warm when I collected her. What were they thinking? Almost a mile of glass next to one of the most important wetland areas in Southern California does this make sense to you?.

There is a story in the Orange County Register here:

and the LA Times here:

The daily Green has an article here:

Dead female Anna's hummingbird found this morning.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wall of Death on Hearthside Property at Bolsa Chica

This 4,400 foot long glass wall is a killer of birds at Bolsa Chica. Sunday my friend Carrie and I discovered 4 dead birds in one hour while walking along the wall. We also found two stunned birds sitting in the dirt immediately below the wall.

Here are the four birds found on Sunday the 18th of November. They are a male Anna's humming bird, a yellow rumped warbler, a mourning dove, and a female northern harrier.

This is a different view of the dead northern harrier. Such a senseless, unnecessary loss of a beautiful bird.

You can see from this image how close the wall is to habitat which is attractive to birds.

This morning we found this dead meadow lark next to the wall. When Flossie Horgan the Executive Director of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust talked to Ed Mountford, a representative of Hearthside Homes and told him what was happening he dismissed her concerns with the comment "Oh they are only sparrows", and went on to say they plan to put something up on the wall that will make it more obvious to the birds, but he didn't know when this would happen. I have four birds in my freezer that prove him wrong. The dead birds are not sparrows, and even if they were sparrows, there are native sparrows that are important members of the natural community at Bolsa Chica. Members of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust, Sea and Sage Audubon and other organizations have contacted the enforcement officer for the California Coastal Commission, representatives of the California Department of Fish and Game, our and the press. What can be done to prevent more deaths remains to be seen. One thing that really ticks me off is on one hand the developer is using the Bolsa Chica as a selling point to attract buyers, and on the other hand killing the very birds that live there.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Molokai, Kalaupapa and Hansen's Disease

While on the island of Molokai, I rode a mule down to a small village on the Kalaupapa peninsula where people with Hansen's Disease, or leprosy were once isolated. The narrow muddy trail descended 26 switchbacks down over 1,700 feet. The trip down was a bit scary as my mule slipped more than once in the slick mud.
Hansen’s Disease also known as leprosy, is caused by a the bacillus bacterium Mycobacterium leprae.Norwegian doctor Gerhard Hansen first discovered the bacterium in 1873. Most people are naturally immune to this bacterium, but about 1 in every 500 of us lack this immunity, and if exposed can develop the disease. Hansen’s disease affects the nervous system, skin and eyes. Direct physical contact with a person who has the disease is necessary for transmission, but patients receiving treatment for the disease are not infectious. The disease is now curable with medications.
Despite all the fear this disease raised in people, this is one of the least contagious of the communicable diseases. Fear of contracting this disease led to the isolation of those with Hansen’s Disease. Twenty eight patients still live in Kalaupapa on Molokai’s north shore. The seas surrounding the settlement are usually very rough, and cliffs, some as high as 3,500 feet, make access from inland very difficult. The trail starts near the trees at the top of the cliff and works it's way down the steep cliffside.
The Kalaupapa Peninsula from the trail down the cliff side.Kalaupapa from the air. I took this from the small plane I took from Maui to Molokai.The Kalaupapa Peninsula was once the site of an active fishing village, but in 1866 King Kamehameha V ordered those with advanced Hansen’s Disease to this isolated area. Those who came to this area never saw their family or friends again. Women who gave birth here had their babies immediately taken from them. Having the disease was cause for arrest and banishment.The first settlement was on the opposite side of the peninsula from the town of Kalaupapa, and was called Kalawao. Those with the disease were taken by boat, and forced into the water near the large pointed rock in this picture. They then had to swim to shore and hike over several valleys to reach the settlement. They had inadequate food, shelter and no medical care. Conditions improved under the care of Father Damien and others. Father Damien arrived at Kalawao in 1873 and died in 1889 after contracting Hansen’s disease. Father Damien worked hard to improve the nutrition, medical care, and shelter for the patients. He alerted the outside world to the horrible living conditions that existed on the Kalaupapa peninsula.
St. Philomena Church and Father Damien’s grave
This is the only remaining building from the Kalawao settlement. Built by Brother Victorin Bertrant in 1872, it was remodeled by the patients and Father Damien in 1876. The gravesite visible in the photo is the original gravesite of Father Damien. Other priests also have marked graves in the cemetery, but there are hundreds of unmarked graves of patients who died here. Over 7,000 people are buried here and at Kalaupapa, most in unmarked graves. Father Damien’s remains were returned to Belgium, only his right hand remains at Kalawao. The original settlement at Kalawao was abandoned in the late 1800’s for Kalaupapa as Mother Marianne Cope, a Franciscan nun who continued Father Damien’s work, realized it would be easier to receive supplies on this side of the peninsula. The seas are calmer at Kalaupapa, and it is warmer and drier. Beginning in the 1940’s sufone drug treatment was available for those with the disease. The drugs arrest the advancement of the disease, and in 1969 isolation of patients at Kalaupapa was stopped.