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Earthspan’s 2017 Autumn Peregrine Surveys Complete

Posted by on Nov 17, 2017 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Founding President of Earthspan Dr. Bob Whitney (center) joined Mike Yates and Bill Seegar at Assateague in October

The autumn Assateage and Padre Island Peregrine Falcon Surveys are in the books. At Assateague, the 48th annual survey observed lower numbers than in recent years with only 65 captures. The 41st annual autumn survey at Padre resulted in 135 captures, including the 10,000th peregrine captured in that survey’s history! Reports were completed by year’s end and are available for viewing under the Research tab.

Spring Peregrine Survey at South Padre Island Complete

Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Kathy Maechtle releases an adult female at Tom's memorial gathering

Our 39th annual spring survey at South Padre wrapped last week. The kickoff on April 12 included an expedition to Deer Island, where a few close friends of Earthspan Director Tom Maechtle joined wife Kathy and daughter Ireland to honor his memory. Extensive flooding of the wind tidal flats and several days of dangerously high winds combined to reduce productivity this spring, and our final capture total was 36. Three falcons originally banded during previous autumn surveys were among those captured, and we continued sample collections for collaborative studies.

Earthspan Family Suffers Devastating Loss

Posted by on Dec 26, 2016 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Tom at Padre Island in 1996

Earthspan must tearfully advise its friends and supporters of the untimely passing of Director and founding member Tom Maechtle. A talented biologist and internationally known expert on peregrines, he directed the Padre Survey for many years. Tom was a key figure in most Earthspan projects for decades, working alongside us on peregrine projects in Greenland, Alaska, Mexico, South America and Russia. He authored or co-authored many scientific publications, built his highly successful Bighorn Environmental Consultants firm in Sheridan, WY, and still found time for a rewarding family life with daughter Ireland and wife Kathy. Tom was a brother and steadfast friend to us, and his importance in our lives and those of countless others cannot be measured. His health took a sudden and unexpected turn since visiting our Assateague Island survey in October, and we must now endure the incalculable personal and professional loss of this seminal figure in peregrine research. As Earthspan’s important projects continue, Tom’s influence and ethic and spirit will always be an integral part of them.

Tom’s daughter Ireland is 18 and has just completed her first semester at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. A Universal Transfers to Minors Account fund has been established for her education expenses with Kathy as custodian. Gifts of up to $14K per calendar year from any one person are allowable with no tax liability on Ireland’s part other than for any interest accrued. Donations may be mailed for account number 6025387314 to Wells Fargo Bank, C/O Mark Kohl, 2001 SW 17th St., Ocala, FL 34471.

The Assateague and Padre Island Peregrine surveys completed successful field seasons in October, and reports are posted on this site under the Research tab.

2016 Spring Peregrine Survey at Padre Island Complete

Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Mike Yates with an adult female

The spring survey began on April 14, and was conducted by Bill Seegar, Mike Yates and Carl Thelander. For several days we had full access to the wind tidal flats and interior trails. High Laguna Madre and Gulf tides soon reduced our survey area and a severe thunderstorm in the early morning hours of April 19 limited our access to a small northeast segment of the island. Just as the flats had begun to dry another storm event early on April 24 returned them to April 19 conditions. Thunderstorms that afternoon curtailed survey activities until April 26, and left the survey limited to patrolling the dune margin north of Deer Island to a small soft but passable section of the extreme northeast flats. Flats began to dry on April 30 and we gained access to about a third of the study area north of Deer Island, but high Laguna Madre waters continued to saturate the majority of the study area and make travel difficult on the remainder. Strong northern winds kept us from the field May 2 but stacked up many new migrants on the flats. Lighter north winds on our final day (May 3) provided a stellar (for the spring) day with 13 new captures. In 168 hours, 40 minutes of survey time we observed a total of 483 peregrines. Of that number we recorded 52 new captures, six returns of falcons banded during previous surveys, and three retraps of individuals first banded this spring. We added 53 blood samples to our archive and collected feather samples from all 41 adults captured for collaborative mercury studies.

Fall Peregrine Surveys Completed

Posted by on Nov 30, 2015 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Barbara and Pete Jenny with Ruth Mutch at Padre

The 46th annual autumn survey at Assateague Island and the 39th at Padre Island were completed in October. Numbers were down at Assateague due to the effects of a prolonged nor’easter and Hurricane Joaquin. Padre had a good season despite the challenges of a red tide and flooding of the wind tidal flats. More details and final reports are now posted under the Research tab.

The Earthspan family celebrates one of its heroes

Posted by on Jun 25, 2015 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Janis and Bill Seegar with Bob (right) at the banquet

Bob Whitney, DVM, MS, ACLAM (see Volunteer Profiles) is Earthspan’s founding President and an inspiration to its members for over four decades. Bob turns 80 this year, and on the weekend of May 8-10 his “kids” (Stacy Whitney, Tara Gillam, Laura Perrotta and Mark Whitney) held a celebration at Chincoteague Island, VA. We were proud to be included among the dozens of attendees and to present a program at the banquet on Earthspan’s work, the success of which bears so many of Bob’s fingerprints. We were not at all surprised to meet various impressive individuals whose lives had similarly been enhanced through his influence and mentorship. So thanks for everything and many happy returns, Bob. May we continue to rely on your wisdom far into the future.

Spring Peregrine Survey at Padre Island Complete

Posted by on May 5, 2015 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Tom Seegar produces

Fifty-two peregrines were captured in April and all were blood sampled. Three of those individuals had been initially banded during last autumn’s survey. Equipment breakdowns delayed the survey’s start, and previous rains had left the flats soft but navigable except for a few treacherous spots. Falcons were mostly unresponsive for the first few days, at which point nighttime thunderstorms curtailed access to the study area April 13-16. After that the wind tidal flats north of Deer Island could only be accessed via beach travel due to standing water to the south. Periodic nighttime rains kept the flats soft, but large numbers of responsive birds showed during the final week. Days lost due to equipment, wet flats and wind resulted in our expending >50 man-hours fewer than in spring 2014, but we were able to capture essentially the same number of falcons.

Earthspan Study on Oil Spill Effects Published

Posted by on Mar 24, 2015 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Ecotoxicology has published Earthspan’s collaborative study documenting polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contaminants in migrating peregrines relative to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill. Results demonstrate an increased incidence (frequency of detection and blood concentrations) of PAH contamination in 2010 fall migrants sampled along the Texas Gulf Coast, declining to near basal levels in 2011. The publication can be found on our Research and Publications links.

Earthspan at the Ward Museum in January

Posted by on Dec 17, 2014 in Breaking News | 0 comments

Earthspan is an invited participant on January 16 at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art’s Eastern Shore Conservation Showcase in Salisbury, Maryland. Board members Bill Seegar, Jim Dayton and Blake Henke will share information on our 45 annual fall migration surveys of peregrine falcons at Assateague Island. Details of our satellite tracking studies in partnership with North Star Science and Technology, along with our investigations of chemical and biological threats to the environment will also be highlighted. Among other participants will be the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (USFWS), the Assateague Island National Seashore (NPS), the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Salisbury University.


Fall Peregrine Surveys Complete

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in Breaking News | 0 comments

A second-year female captured at Assateague with a pure white secondary feather. This was a first for us among almost 15,000 captures.

Earthspan’s Assateague Island (MD) Peregrine Falcon Survey completed its 45th annual autumn migration survey on 18 October, and its Padre Island (TX) Peregrine Falcon Survey completed its 37th annual survey on 26 October.  The Assateague effort, conducted by Directors Mike Yates and Bill Seegar, experienced a series of productive fronts that generated some big days on the beach. Just one 2 ½ -day period in mid-October produced 47 captures.  At Padre, Director Tom Maechtle and his volunteer biologists had a more challenging season. A major storm on 27 September dumped 8 inches of rain in about 24 hours.  The wind tidal flats were flooded and each time they dried out, more rain soon followed.  Padre never experienced any significant frontal systems that serve to push birds into migrating, so usual peaks in early and mid-October never materialized. Instead a few new birds arrived each day, allowing for a steady capture of several new falcons daily.

We were able to add many samples (133 from Assateague and 108 from Padre) to our blood archive that spans decades. These are available as we address emerging chemical and biological threats to the environment, wildlife and mankind. Photographer Allen Sklar took some photos of falcons we were processing at Assateague. He posted them, along with a summary of our studies on his website, which you can visit here.

Many thanks to our dedicated supporters and volunteers, without whom these important studies could not continue!