June 15, 2006

Cape Wind to study birds

Lest anyone has believed the developer's song that the studies have already been done concerning birds in Nantucket Sound, this article from the June 5 Cape Cod Times serves as a reminder that they've barely begun.
... Before Cape Wind can build turbines on the sound, it first must prove to skeptics -- and the state -- that, among other things, the 417-foot-tall towers won't harm birds.

A scientific team hired by the developer is completing a six-week, $400,000 radar study of the sound to characterize just how many birds fly through this offshore location -- and, critically, at what heights.

For the second time, the developer is using sophisticated radar during springtime on Horseshoe Shoal itself. It's a time when winter songbirds arrive from the warmth of South America and hundreds of thousands of ducks also pass through.

... While the [Massachusetts Audubon Society] has offered preliminary support for the project ... Jack Clarke, director of public policy and government relations for Massachusetts Audubon, says there are still some gaps in bird data on the sound.

In particular, they want to know more about the nighttime patterns of long-tailed ducks on the sound; the trends of endangered terns and threatened plovers; and just how many songbirds are flying through the area and where they are passing.

... Cape Wind has already conducted three radar studies to follow bird patterns.

But critics have complained that results from two of the studies were questionable since they were collected at remote, land-based sites.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for instance, has urged three years of radar study before a conclusion can be drawn. ...
wind power, wind energy, wind farms, animal rights, environment, environmentalism