Malkolm is cycling on! He is now cycling from Alaska to Washington DC, and then continuing on to the UN Climate Change conference in Cancun in December.
It all started with Bird Year, Malkolm and his parents' year-long, fossil-fuel-free journey in search of birds. Cycling a total of 13,133 miles (21,144 km), they identified 548 different bird species and raised more than $25,000 for bird conservation. Bird Year turned them into confirmed cyclists and taught them that climate change was more serious than they had thought.
In 2009, Malkolm biked from Whitehorse to Ottawa as a part of Pedal for the Planet: the project called for the Canadian Government to become a leader in the struggle to come to grips with climate change. The Harper Government did not even meet with the young cyclists.
Malkolm is now 18 and just finished high school. On August 24, he dipped his foot in the Pacific Ocean in Skagway, Alaska. Then headed up and over the White Pass to the Alaska Highway on his journey to Washington and on to Cancun.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sailing and seabirds (Malkolm)

“Look!” exclaimed Tim Amaral, our seabird expert (Redtail Adventures). “White belly and underwing, ‘M’ pattern on back...”
I raised my binoculars. Six light shearwaters stood out from amongst the hundreds of brown and silver Sooty Shearwaters that flew alongside our boat. One of the light shearwaters tilted its wings, flashing its boldly patterned gray and brown back. “Buller’s Shearwater!”
We were on a small sailboat, somewhere off Monterey. We’d chartered the craft for a day of pelagic birding. Our captain, Eric, tightened some ropes, let another loose and with a flick of the tiller laid us on a new tack. The boat leaned over at an alarming angle, I grabbed the railing to stop from sliding down the deck. The boat pitched frighteningly as it lurched into the trough of a wave. I fought to keep sickness at bay. “Pelagic sailing isn’t for the faint of heart,” said Tim.
Eric steered us into the heart of a flock of Sooty Shearwaters resting on the water. The birds directly in our patch fluttered away, but most remained seated, giving us spectacular views. “This is a definite advantage over a power boat,” commented Tim. “Whenever we motor into a resting flock, all the shearwaters scatter.”
Ken reached into a garbage bag full of burnt popcorn and tossed a handful overboard. A couple passing Heermann’s Gull wheeled around and swooped at the food. We soon had a trail of gulls following the boat. By having a flock of gulls behind us we hoped to attract albatrosses or skuas that wanted to check out what the frenzy was all about. But we were distracted by lunch and chumming was forgotten. We lost the trail of gulls. We reached the edge of an underwater canyon, where rising currents brought nutrients to the surface. Ken threw some popcorn at a passing gull. It turned excitedly, then flew on, as if it had caught a whiff of the burnt food. “Snob,” muttered Ken, “Why wouldn’t a gull gorged on sardines and crustations want to eat gross popcorn?”
New species continued to trickle in, hundreds of Pink-footed Shearwaters, a South Polar Skua that barrelled past, and then, our day’s highlight... “Over there!” called Ken. I looked away from a small flock of phalaropes and saw a tiny, dark bird. “Ashy Storm-Petrel!” called Tim. The bird flew in a direct line, with shallow, rapid wingbeats. It circled and followed the boat for a minute before disappearing. While I desired a better view, I did see enough of the flight pattern to determine that it was an Ashy Storm-Petrel. “That’s the find of the day,” exclaimed Tim. “That’s our ‘needle in the haystack’ bird!”


Shel said...

Funny that I stumble on this website just as you hit my neighborhood. :0) We live just off of Elkhorn Slough, and while we don't get many water birds (we're about a mile off), we get a lot of hawks, kites, kestrels and the other day a huge owl in broad daylight! (Dunno what kind, we were so stunned that by the time we grabbed the binocs he was gone). We have barn swallows nesting under our deck (already gone for the winter), gold finches and purple finches fighting assorted sparrows for the bird feeder, western meadowlarks stopping by our grassy hill and the occasional woodpecker, mockingbird and other assorted unknowns. We're novice birders, having just moved here from the city, but we love it. Have a great time while you're here...the fall is the best time on the Bay.

Shel said...

Oh, and this morning's rainstorm was a fluke. We rarely get rain before the end of October. Hope you didn't get too soaked, at least it wasn't terribly cold.

DCE said...

I'm reading this blog with mixed emotions. I was headed to Whitehorse this coming weekend and had hoped to become reacquainted with Ken. A bit of Googling later and I find you are all on this incredible journey.

Malkolm - I am most incredibly impressed with what you are trying to do, the enthusiasm you show personally and how you infect others with it.

I'll be following your progress and wish you well. Meeting up will have to await another time.

David Elliott, Halifax
(ex COBMS Monashee patrol)