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24/7 Birdwatch

August 1, 2014
Ezra, a red-tailed hawk, perches outside Schoellkopf Stadium. Photo credit, Christine Bogdanowicz.

Ezra, a red-tailed hawk, perches outside Schoellkopf Stadium. Photo credit, Christine Bogdanowicz.

In the interest of what we consider essential news about environmental or conservation issues we occasionally share an article in its entirety here, with the encouragement to give the source its due. The nature of blogging is to be quick but not sloppy, brief but clear, and missionary but unorthodox.

The link to this article is deeply missionary, in that our blog has more bird-related content than any other type of content; birds are both a metric for and icon of our conservation mission; quoting the article in entirety is our unorthodox way of getting the writer’s attention (and if he or the publication prefers we will be happy to reduce our republishing of this article to the normal “fair use” excerpt standard) because his article is about the topic Seth has been working on for the last several years at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and its far reaches.  We think he might find the work Seth and James are doing at Xandari an interesting extension of this article’s focus:

Thanks to Cornell Lab of Ornithology webcams and local bird enthusiasts, anyone in the world can see into the lives of a family of red-tailed hawks that resides on a light-pole about 80 feet above an athletic field on campus.

More than five million viewers across 200 countries have been following the exploits of Ezra (father) and Big Red (mother) and their offspring since in 2012. This year three nestlings hatched.

Read more…

Glory Of The Past – Allappuzha

August 1, 2014
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Photo credits: Ramesh Kidangoor

Photo credits: Ramesh Kidangoor

Situated at the south-western tip of Lake Vembanad, Allappuzha had its heyday as a commercial hub in 1775-76 when Dewan Raja Keshavadas built it as a major port of the erstwhile Travancore state. Allapuzha had the dual advantage of cheap inland water transport on its eastern end and calm seas suitable for an all-weather port on the west. Read more…

Bird of the Day: Common Sandpiper (Appledore Island, Maine)

July 31, 2014

Notes from the Garden: Building a house or a vegetable cage?

July 31, 2014
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Measuring the length of our new monkey-protected area in the organic farm at Cardamom County

Building a 15 meter x 20 meter vegetable cage is no small feat. The last estimate we had was that it would cost about 4 lakhs, which is apparently the cost of a small house. A lakh is a unit in the South Asian numbering system equivalent to 100,000. So, is 400,000 rupees worth it for a vegetable cage? I think spending energy to get a smarter design would be more worth it.

With the help of Raxa Collective’s head engineer, it is very likely we will be able to lower that cost significantly. As I talked about in my post about quantifying farm-to-table, I think that with a combination of lowering the cost and then taking advantage of the monkey-protected area as vigorously as possible with efficient use of the space, it will be worth it. There are elements of farm-to-table that are not quantifiable but can be seen in the overall conservation story of supporting smart land-use practices.

At the end of the day, at least the food here is locally sourced mostly from the Cumbum vegetable market in Tamil Nadu. This market is only about 25 km away and the farmers in that market are relatively close. This is far better then the way most food is sourced in the United States.

In the United States, eating local is a challenge. Most agriculture in the states is for corn and soybeans, rather than vegetables. And “local” is difficult when the local environment has few green spaces left, let alone farmland. So even though we don’t have “monkey-challenges” to growing our food locally in the states, we have monocultures and rapid suburbanization keeping us farther and farther away from fresh food.  Read more…

A Story About Patagonia, A Company We Believe In, And Relate To

July 31, 2014
Jon Kitamura in a Patagonia wet suit at Montara State Beach, California. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Jon Kitamura in a Patagonia wet suit at Montara State Beach, California. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

We hope one day to have as many participant observers like Jake, saying things like this about Raxa Collective, as Patagonia has admirers. The company gets alot of good press, and for all the right reasons. We have not tired of it yet. Fans of the founder already, we also believe in his company, and (as if anyone needed to be convinced) this New York Times profile helps to understand why:

…“We had customers looking for safe alternatives for those with latex allergy, and then we had customers looking for alternatives to petroleum-based products,” Mr. Martin said, “so a number of companies had been approaching us.” Read more…

Bicycle Zeitgeist

July 31, 2014

We love design and we love bicycles, and we’ve been writing about their innovation-intersection long before Gianluca’s collapsable model came to our attention.

But we’re grateful for the reminders of the creativity that urges us to upcycle, recycle and craft our “ride”.

Temple Dance – Kerala

July 31, 2014
Photo Credits : Ramesh Kidangoor

Photo Credits: Ramesh Kidangoor

Kerala temples offer a veritable array of performing arts, often related to religious rituals and and mythological stories. The rhythm and elegance of the temple dances of Kerala are a result of  the various cultural influences that took place in the state. The dramatic costumes, vibrant colors, and throbbing music all make watching temple dances an unforgettable experience. Read more…

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