1st, 2007: Whatever
happened to the 'Pause that Refreshes'?
Getting propane this morning I noticed
this sign at the entrance to the service station. Speaking with the middle-eastern
proprietor I learned that now there are over 30 such energy drinks. He
was appalled that his distributor is encouraging him to carry even more
I have to agree. From whence came
this new energy crisis? Did we suddenly discover that the day was
actually shorter than the previously allotted 24 hours and so we
needed to speed up the pace of our activities in order to accomplish all
that had to be done?
Or is it that we have taken on so many
responsibilities and obligations that there is little time left for ourselves
anymore. The use of these energy drinks seems to be associated more with
after hours or recreational activity than with just getting through the
normal workday ...
'Slow down, you move too fast,
2nd, 2007: Watched
a woman on Wednesday feeding the seagulls in the east parking lot near
After she had gone through a full loaf of sliced bread she noticed she
was beginning to attract an audience. Encouraged by the attention
she returned to her car and retrieved three more loaves. She had
the smug look of someone who just knew that her efforts to 'take care of
wildlife' had not gone unnoticed.
you've got to make the morning last
Just kickin' down the cobble-stones,
lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy ...
I've got no deeds to do, no promises to
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals
and Garfunkel - Feeling Groovy
Pier showed the effects of her 'generosity'
this morning ... all of the end benches were covered in more than the usual
amount of wet and runny gull poop.
But what can you do to discourage people
from feeding the birds? I have noticed that talking with them rarely
does any good since they see themselves as either on a noble mission or
just indulging in a bit of harmless fun. They will persist even after
they have been spoken to ... opening up their car door and dropping the
feed secretively behind it. So it is not a question of ignorance of the
3rd, 2007: Increased
enforcement of existing laws is not likely as a
solution either. At
least not until there is a change in our permissive attitude towards human
interaction with wildlife. Petting zoos and aquaria encourage people
to get closer to nature as if physical proximity were the sole goal. And
feeding birds at public parks and waterfronts has always been considered
an acceptable pastime.
So it's difficult for those in enforcement
to write a citation for behavior they don't personally object to ... it's
not going to be a high priority concern. Nor for the judges either who
don't see any criminal intent.
I guess the only hope is in increasing
the next generation's ecological awareness . But first we have to somehow
acquire the humility to acknowledge that we are just another link in the
food chain and not the reason for evolution itself. We may be the dominant
species for the moment but that doesn't confer any rights ... just one
heck of a responsibility not to be the proverbial bull in a china shop.
Spent the afternoon yesterday out on the pier with friends. Several benches
away were two guys and a young women. One of the guys decked a small 36"
shovelnose guitarfish after a manly display of pump and reel worthy of
the best chair-strapped charter boat angler.
Posing proudly for pictures he couldn't
resist grabbing the fish by the tail and swinging it around his head several
times before letting it fly out in a high arc ending in a loud slap on
the water. Raising fisted arms over his head in a victory proclamation
he looked around for approval.
I hope he noticed how uncomfortable the
rest of us were.
6th, 2007: Received
an email from Betsy Cramer at www.pelicanlife.org
advising that a gull with a hook in its beak and attached line was spotted
at Goleta. I told her I would keep an eye out for it and saw it this
in the east parking lot. Called June Taylor at the Santa Barbara
Wildlife Care Network (967-1028) who advised waiting for the bird to weaken
before trying to net it. The hook does not appear to be impacting
the bird as it is in the upper bill only but there is about three feet
of attached monofilament.
The head ranger brought me a community service calendar indicating
a group would be doing underwater cleaning of various piers in the state.
Goleta is scheduled for Sunday and Monday (April 15th and 16th). He thought
it was a funded activity.
9th, 2007: Gull with
hook in its beak spotted on pier by one of the regulars. Initial attempt
to restrain bird and remove hook frustrated by lack of a net.
This carving appeared on the last bench at the end several days ago ...
this is one of several benches that have been tagged two or more times
since early December and have not been cleaned up. Leaving graffiti only
encourages more. And failure to report new graffiti leaves the community
without an true understanding as to the extent of the problem. I really
don't want to go back to cleaning it up myself nor should I have to ...
the county has acknowledged it is their responsibility.
Graffiti and other vandalism is supposed to be noted on the daily
walk through and subsequently addressed.
Still it seems that, unless there are complaints as well, nothing
gets done. For example, the other day I was told of some slanderous and
sexually oriented graffiti in the rest room at the foot of the pier.
Apparently it had been in place for some time without being cleaned up.
It was brought to my attention because the individual named was too embarrassed
to discuss it with park staff. I passed it on and the graffiti was removed
the same day.
14th, 2007: Happy
Valentine's Day! I got a special present from the pigeons
and seagulls today ... 100% guano free benches! I am crossing my fingers
and hoping that the various mitigation measures recently put in place by
the restaurant will continue to be as successful as they currently seem
This is the infamous eucalyptus tree ...
former roost of a large colony of cormorants notorious for their prodigious
output of guano. Since it is adjacent to the restaurant signs were
posted to keep people from parking under it.
Finally the restaurant installed a sonic
deterrent device and the birds apparently began to roost elsewhere. This
same device seems to have reduced the number of gulls and pigeons roosting
on the pier as well.
On another page I described this log as 'a
place where I can share some of the observations that come to me'
while I am cleaning up the pier. Most of those thoughts are pier related
but sometimes I find myself looking beyond this pier and this community:
19th, 2007: Rained last night ... pier looks
hosed down. But the benches have about twice as much guano as yesterday.
Found dumpster open again ... suspect it is being left open while the kitchen
trucks out additional garbage. Simple solution is to close the lid until
the additional garbage is ready to be deposited.
The above picture was taken February 2 but still it indicates
the powerful draw an overflowing dumpster has for the resident gull population.
Much of the refuse is left over food and the bones and wrappings
end up on the pier.
Mike Spence (aka Santa) from United Pier
and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC)
and myself installed two of the 40 fishing line recycle bins he built to
be placed on piers around California. Funding for the project was
provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
A fish line manufacturing company (Berkely) sponsors a recycling
program and provides postage paid UPS mailers to return the line. I
have volunteered to maintain the bins and ship the excess line back to
Now that the pigeon nesting season is almost
upon us it is very important that no line be left on the deck as the birds
will incorporate the line into their nests with disastrous results.
Mike has a bird nest made entirely of line containing the skeleton of a
young nestling whose leg got fatally entangled.
installed today was a bench that had been removed earlier because it had
been located directly in front of the fish cleaning station (faucet area
At the time
I felt that it was a mistake to remove it entirely rather than just relocate
it. I'm glad to see the bench returned to the pier. And the new location
makes better use of the space in the fishing ell.
While doing the installs today I wandered over to the Ranger's
compound looking for a piece of pressure treated lumber. Not only
did I find what I needed but I also discovered a treasure trove of odds
and ends such as extra garbage cans and fancy recycling bins that will
come in handy when upgrading the fixtures on the pier.
The LA Times article today indicated that the tagger's identity
is known and he would be cited for his activity. Initially the mayor
wanted to stop the bus and have the individual apprehended but it was decided
not to "create a traffic hazard at a busy intersection".
Why not? What an interesting confrontation that would have
been. But it's still not too late for the the mayor to arrange taped interviews
with the young man, his parents and his teachers. It seems to me that the
larger community has some questions that they would like those individuals
2007: Ending the month
on a positive note even though I found the
lids folded back again this morning. Spoke with an employee of the restaurant
on his way to work about the problem with the birds feeding off the restaurant's
trash. He was very understanding and shortly the lids to the dumpsters
were properly closed and the birds dispersed.
The good news is in the overall reduction in bird guano on the
pier. Prior to the restaurant's mitigation measures beginning in late January
guano removal averaged 27 hours per month ... in February it was down to
Several other factors contributed to this reduction as well among
them the increase in natural predation by resident hawks and falcons patrolling
the pier which reduced incidents of roosting and subsequent guano deposition.
Additionally the seasonal reduction in baitfish means fewer fish discarded
on the pier decking by irresponsible anglers. Without this unnaturally
overabundant source the birds revert to more natural feeding behavior
away from the pier.
The daily external cleaning of the trash recepticles has encouraged
their use and therefore more trash is being deposited instead of being
left on the ground. The trash cans in the east parking lot are being
monitored and emptied before they reach the overflow state thus reducing
the amount of trash available for the racoons.
Things are definitely improving!
Questions or comments? ... email Pierhead
Copyright © 2007 by Boyd Grant. All Rights Reserved