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Thread: Tree removal at UTSW

  1. #31

    Default Re: Tree removal at UTSW

    Great job to everyone who attended the meeting! Having previously worked at UTSW, I can't say that I hold out much hope that the administration will ever do anything in the best interest of the birds but they may be forced to do so begrudgingly if they know they are being watched closely.

    I find the rookery nesting data interesting.

    The huge drop in Great Egret nests seen from 2002 to 2003 roughly correlates to the building of Memorial Gardens, a concrete jogging trail, and lighting along the trail on the side of the woods close to Inwood. There was a substantial periphery trim at that time, too.

    A side note, I know for a fact that at least one pair of White Ibis were nesting in the rookery in 2002. The parents took the juveniles out for a morning flight just as I drove into work every day. Also, there was an Anhinga hanging out at the rookery in 2001...whether or not it was nesting I can't say.

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Default Re: Tree removal at UTSW

    So where does anything stand at this point? Is a fine against the school going to be persued by the warden?
    Lulu
    Happy Birding!


    Life Birds:449
    Newest Lifer: Northern Beardless Tyrannulet

  3. #33
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    Dec 2006
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    Default Re: Tree removal at UTSW

    Laura, I finally filled in my reply to the question you raised after I posted the minutes of the meeting we had -- it's back there on the previous page in the space I had reserved for the purpose. Right now we are still awaiting recommendations from Brett Johnson of TP&W (which should be out soon, at which point he said he'll send me a scan of the letter and I'll be able to post them), but I've had no indication from him that the game warden has any intention of levying a fine. I don't have a sense (from my reading of the laws, which I quoted in the other reply) that there are legal grounds for levying one, as frustrating as that is to us.

    I've been looking at the Audubon website coverage of the species nesting in the rookery (they don't have pages on Anhingas or Cattle Egrets, so they must not be a conservation concern) -- it seems the Little Blue Heron is the species of most conservation concern among the rookery nesters. Here are some excerpts from this section of the website, http://www.audubon.org/bird/waterbirds/The_Species.html#P508_5412 , which justify our concern, I think, especially given the recent hurricane damage to coastal rookeries and habitat.


    Great Egret:
    http://web1.audubon.org/waterbirds/species.php?speciesCode=greegr
    While Great Egrets are no longer jeopardized by indiscriminate shooting, they are vulnerable to the loss of wetlands, and disturbance of their nesting colonies.
    What You Can Do
    Avoid disturbing Great Egret nesting colonies…and support wise land management practices that protect the birds' habitats.

    Snowy Egret:
    http://web1.audubon.org/waterbirds/species.php?speciesCode=snoegr
    since the late-20th century, Snowy Egret populations have experienced considerable flux, suggesting that the species is vulnerable to environmental threats such as the destruction of coastal wetlands, pollution, and competition with other bird species.
    What You Can Do
    Do not closely approach or otherwise disturb nesting Snowy Egret colonies.

    Little Blue Heron:
    http://web1.audubon.org/waterbirds/species.php?speciesCode=litblu
    Audubon State of the Birds Status: declining population; high threats
    What You Can Do
    Intrusions near rookeries and foraging areas disrupt reproduction and feeding. Keep a 100-meter buffer zone between yourself and Little Blue Heron nesting sites.

    Tri-colored Heron:
    http://web1.audubon.org/waterbirds/species.php?speciesCode=triher
    Although Tricolored Heron populations appear stable in North America , they are not secure. The wetlands in which this egret breeds and forages are disappearing at an alarming rate, despite mitigation efforts, government studies, and repeated warnings.
    What You Can Do
    Respect Tricolored Herons with an 80-meter buffer between yourself and their nesting/roosting sites.

    Black-crowned Night-Heron:
    http://web1.audubon.org/waterbirds/species.php?speciesCode=blanig2
    With a few important, regional exceptions, most Black-crowned Night-Heron populations have been increasing since the 1960s. Regional losses appear widespread and difficult to reverse in … the Gulf Coast of Texas…

    White Ibis:
    http://web1.audubon.org/waterbirds/species.php?speciesCode=whiibi
    Audubon State of the Birds Status: No current conservation concerns

  4. #34
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    Dec 2006
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    Default Map, Old Aerial Photos & Google Earth images of UTSW rookery

    For history buffs and those curious to know more about the location of the rookery at issue, here's a map of the UTSW campus. The rookery is located in the blank section containing the words South Campus. The ensuing photos are all oriented from the viewpoint of someone located more or less above the brown building in the west campus (#18), looking toward the south campus and downtown.




    The photo curator, Bill Maina, found two old aerial photos of the campus and environs in the UTSW library's archives and was kind enough to make copies of them for us. He believes this oldest one was taken sometime in the late 40s or early 50s. Note that I-35 doesn't exist yet, nor does the cloverleaf at the intersection of Harry Hines and Inwood. In fact, there's really not much of anything developed between Inwood and downtown Dallas at that time.




    This photo can be dated to early in the 1960s, because the St Paul Building (#18, the brown one in West Campus on the map) was copmpleted in 1963 and it's still under construction in the photo. I-35 has appeared by now, as well as the cloverleaf at Harry Hines and Inwood. The buildings near the top are Parkland Hospital and early SWMC buildings. I find it a bit difficult to compare the UTSW treed areas in these two photos because the width of the pie wedges is so different.




    Here's a more-or-less contemporary image of the area that I saved from Google Earth recently. The rookery occupies approximately the upper 2/3 of that clump of trees.




    And here's a Google earth image focussing on the rookery, saved by Chalo Gonzalez, who knows how to save these images without all the Google earth tools overlying them. I rotated it 180 degrees so it would be in approximately the same orientation as the other photos and image. I suspect that the grayish color on trees in the interior of the large patch of trees is caused by guano, which gives an idea of which part of the trees are favored by the white birds (which nest highest) for nesting. Cattle Egrets, Black-crowned Night-Herons and Little Blue Herons prefer to nest in the shade of leaves and they extend the boundaries of the rookery a little beyond the visibly guano-covered parts.



    What you can't see from these aerial photos is that the trees used as a nesting area are in a depression. The depression slopes more or less in the direction of the covered ball court that's just below the two open tennis courts at the upper right corner of the rookery. Directly down from that isolated tree off the lower right corner of the covered ball court, just inside the edge of the rookery but obscured by overhanging tree canopy in this overhead view, is the pond whose edge has been exposed by the recent tree cutting. There's a culvert below and to the right of that which allows excess runoff from heavy rains to flow under West Campus Drive and out of the rookery. While walking the periphery of the rookery with Brett Johnson, a TP&W Urban Wildlife Biologist, we learned that it's the occasional gully washer of a rain washing away accumulated guano on the sloping ground that keeps the rookery trees from being killed by the acidity of the guano.

    Google earth images aren't dated, but Chalo saved the one above last fall, so it was definitely taken before the recent tree cutting. A good deal of the dark green buffer around the grayish trees on the upper and right sides, which was largely hackberry trees, has been cut down.

  5. #35
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    Feb 2009
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    Default Re: Tree removal at UTSW

    Hello all . . .

    I visited the Rookery on Sunday, 4-5-09, and took some more photos of the area. Not only do they show the unnecessary chopping of trees and bushes, they show birds using the areas close to the perimeter to gather twigs, etc.


    The pond:




    Debris:




    The pond:




    Two Great Egrets and a neglected signpost:




    One Great Egret:




    We are still awaiting news from Brett with TP&W about what UTSW needs to do about this. Please stay tuned.

    Thanks,
    Anna Palmer
    Last edited by anna p; 04-06-2009 at 06:49 PM. Reason: Enlarged photos

  6. #36
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    Default TP&W's recommendations for UTSW Rookery












  7. #37
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    Default The screen in front of the Pond at the Rookery

    These are photos I shot yesterday, Saturday, 4-11, of the screen that has been put up in front of the pond. It is 4 feet tall and made of a heavy-duty mesh.

    WFAA aired a short piece about it by Janet St. James on Friday. I am trying to get them to put it on their website. The link will be posted here when it is available.

    Anna










  8. #38
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    Default Re: Tree removal at UTSW

    I am not impressed by this "screen," which is really a fence but not a screen. Brett's recommendation that it needed to be only as tall as the birds suggested to me that he didn't get the point that it was wanted to keep the birds from being frightened into flying away when they saw people near the pond - obviously the birds can see higher than their eyes reach if anyone is close to a four foot fence.

    Now we see from Anna's photos that the darned thing is transparent! Clearly UTSW doesn't get the point either. Anna told me that when she approached to get photos the birds near the pond were startled into flying away. She had told Kathy Rogers that the screen was only four feet tall before she even realized that it was transparent and Kathy had replied that it needed to be eight feet tall. I'm certain Kathy will also think it needs to be opaque.

    Marie-Alda Gilles-Gonzalez, one of the founding members of the Heron and Egret Society at UTSW, is also not impressed by this so-called screen. She asked me to post her comment on it here:

    The fence is so low as to have no effect on the birds' privacy, which was its intended use. It is also so near the pond that it appears to have been incorporated into what is now a rather transparent university land grab from the rookery. The perimeter denuded of trees and shrubs (notable in the photos from the absence of grass), where the egrets were only last week gathering nesting materials, is now outside this fence.
    We can only hope that they put the fence so close to the pond because they wanted to leave room for planting the screening bushes they've been directed to plant.

  9. #39
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    Default Link to WFAA's update by Janet St. James

    Thanks to Walt at WFAA for supplying this link!

    http://www.wfaa.com/video/index.html?nvid=351711

    Anna

  10. #40
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    Default Re: Tree removal at UTSW

    Got a call from Anna about a happier development at the rookery -- a new screen has been put up. While it's not any taller than the previous one, this one is actually opaque, which should allow the birds to visit the pond without being so disturbed when anyone walks by.

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