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It's Egg Cam Time! Watch Great Blue Herons, Eagles, Owls...

Watch live streaming video from cornellherons at livestream.com


As I write this, I can hear geese and a Belted Kingfisher in the distance and I'm watching a Great Blue Heron sitting over her day-old egg. I'm thousands of miles away from the birds, who reside near Sapsucker Woods pond, outside the Johnson Center for Birds and Biodiversity at the Cornell Lab for Ornithology. But I've got a front seat on the action, along with 2,500 other lurkers, thanks to the lab's Livestream video link. And if we grow bored, we can switch to Big Red, a Red-tailed Hawk, who is currently laying on her three eggs, protecting them from the wind on an unseasonably cool day in Ithica.

Streaming video links to nesting birds isn't a new craze, but it's a growing one. Last year, an eagle nest cam established by the Raptor Resource Project captivated thousands who sat, staring into their computer screens as a Bald Eagle in Decorah, Iowa, laid and guarded her hatchlings. It was the most popular feed on the Ustream service, reports Wired.com.

And now the show is back on in Decorah. Two eaglets hatched on Tuesday and one more on Wednesday, which you can watch here. Skip to around minute 7 to see the hatchling being fed. This year, the eagles in Decorah are under more advanced surveillance; the cameras use night vision, high definition and panning capabilities. What's next? GoPro cameras strapped to the birds' chests?

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The Other Oils Sands Pipeline Project: Northern Gateway

BC_Coast_DogwoodThe B.C. Coast  Photo: Flickr/Dogwood Initiative

If the U.S. doesn't allow the northern half of the Keystone XL pipeline to be built, Canada is just going to sell its oil to power-hungry China. That's one of the common rebuttals to opposition of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would allow oil derived from oil sands (known colloquially as tar sands) from northern Alberta to flow to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast. 

Whether or not the full Keystone XL gets built, Canadian pipeline builder Enbridge wants to connect Edmonton with the port of Kitimat in northern British Columbia, where oil would be loaded onto tankers and shipped through the Douglas Channel, headed to Asia and California. Called the Northern Gateway Project, the pipeline would run 730 miles, traversing the Rockies and Coast mountain ranges before its terminus in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, one of the largest contiguous tracts of temperate rainforest left in the world.

Raincoast Conservation Foundation, a team of conservationists and scientists, opposes the project due to what it considers grave threats placed on the B.C. coast and its aboriginal people should an oil spill occur. Chris Darimont, the group's director of science and a B.C. coast surfer, attracted Patagonia's attention to the pipeline plans. Subsequently, Patagonia ambassadors and surfing filmmakers the Malloy brothers became involved. The result is Groundswell, a short film the brothers shot last year during a sailing and surfing expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest. The film, due out in October, will serve to advocate against the pipeline and for the rainforests and its inhabitants. (Click here for a Q&A with Chris Malloy and the trailer for Groundswell.)

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Ditch Your Car, Find Adventure with Transit and Trails

Katie_subwau_transit_trailsKate Kernerman on her way to a campground. Photo: Ryan Branciforte

It was a brisk and sunny morning, typical for the dry winter we're having in San Francisco. As I locked my bike up to a sturdy fence and started down the escalator to the 24th Street subway station, I realized how odd I looked, in my running tights, fleece, and hat. I looked even more out of place as I sardined into a crowded subway car full of workaday commuters, headed east. 

Ryan Branciforte, co-founder of Transit & Trails, joined me a few stops later. Our destination: Joaquin Miller Park, high in the Oakland hills. My goal: to find out whether ditching my car in order to stitch together various modes of public transit to get me from my home in SF to an awesome trail would be as annoying and as tedious as it sounded.

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On the Horizon: Off-Road Vehicles that Guzzle Electricity, Not Gas

SRI-baja-blog480The beginnings of Jeffrey Smith's EV for the Baja 1000 Photo: Strategic Recovery Institute

In its 44-year history, the Baja 1000 off-road race has been about speed, sand and full throttle. This coming November, the legendary race will also be about instant torque and low or zero emissions -- at least, for some of the drivers. A new vehicle class, Ultra Green, will allow electric and hybrid rigs into the fold this year for the first time. And Jeffrey Smith, an experienced Baja racer, is hoping to win the new class with a fully electric vehicle, reports New York Times' Wheels blog.

Smith has assembled a team of EV experts to design a vehicle with 400 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. The chassis was made by Strategic Racing Designs. The drivetrain is the handiwork of EV West, which built an EV racer for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, a 12-mile course with 4,700 feet of elevation gain. EVs perform well on this course, compared to gas-powered vehicles, which begin to struggle in the thin air of the 14,110-foot peak. 

So what does all this mean to you? It means that some day, the rumble and the smell of dirt bikes on your favorite mountain bike trail will be replaced by the whirl of electric motors.

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Climber to document mountaineering's impact on Sherpa culture

Young_oh_everestPhoto: Young Hoon Oh

Young Hoon Oh, South Korean PhD candidate in anthropology at UC Riverside, is headed to Nepal at the end of the month to attempt his second Everest summit. But his itinerary extends well beyond the days he'll try to reach the top of the world. He'll then spend a year and a half living with Sherpa families in order to research his dissertation. His goal is to document how mountaineering has transformed Sherpa society over the nearly 100 years during which Western climbing guides have employed Sherpa people as porters.

Without this assistance, many hundreds of climbers from all over the world could not have ascended Everest and other Himalayan peaks. But the benefits that mountaineering has bestowed on Sherpa culture aren't always as clear, says Oh. Yes, Himalayan mountaineering and trekking have brought a thriving tourism and guiding industry to the region. But that has come at a price.

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