Stunning Aerial Attack: Peregrine Falcon Snatches Hapless Willet

Here, the falcon tries to pick up the willet but misses once more. Female peregrines are larger than their male counterparts – in some cases by as much as 30 percent. Both sexes, however, share the same beautiful and distinctive markings: white- to rust-colored undersides lined with thin, dark bands; barred bluish black or gray wings; and a black-tipped tail with a white strip towards the very end. In contrast, their feet and the base of their bills are bright yellow.Again the peregrine tries to snare its prey and fails. Willets – a type of sandpiper – are by no means small birds themselves. They come in two seasonal colors: mottled brown breeding plumage (which this one appears to have), and plain gray winter plumage. Unfortunately for this willet, if it hasn’t bred already, it missed its chance. In this dramatic shot, the willet is sent tumbling by the peregrine, which appears to be clutching some feathers in her left claw. Peregrine falcons often live in coastal areas to satisfy their taste for shorebirds, but they are found in a wide variety of other environments as well. In fact, you can find them on every continent excluding Antarctica. They even call urban areas home, so it’s not surprising that they’re among the most prevalent raptors in the world.

Renewable Energy Experiment Kit For Kids.

Too bad I never had this when I was a kid. This Renewable Energy Experiment Kit has a wind turbine, solar cell, electrolytic cells, and a hand-operated dynamo which generate electricity that is stored in a rechargeable battery. The stored energy can then be distributed through the integrated circuit board to power a motor, LEDs, and buzzer using wiring terminated with alligator clips. This is way better than that awful chemistry set I had back in the 1970s. (Yes, I realize this dates me, but oh well) The kits sourcebook explains different methods for reducing energy costs at home while providing a primer about the worlds energy sources. Maybe this will help to create more adults interested in working in the renewable energy sector!

New Lehr Propane Eco Trimmer Test and Review

Being a green blogger can be good, and I was excited to be doing this test and review for Lehr. The unit arrived in a well designed, green, cardboard box with almost everything you need to know about this particular model, printed on the outside. Of course the main selling feature is the fact that it is powered by Propane instead of gasoline, so I thought the Twist n Go! logo was rather ingenious.

According to the box 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled every season, using lawn and garden equipment. This is a staggering amount of spillage, but I believe it because I have probably spilled quite a few gallons myself over the course of my life. You know that nervous feeling you get when you have to refill a hot hot mower or trimmer that has run out of gas half way through the job? That half worried feeling of getting gas on the hot engine, and having the thing catch fire, is a thing of the past.

The packaging was nicely done, with just enough but not too much cardboard to hold everything together during shipping. (The cardboard went straight into the recycling bin, of course) One of the things that I was happy to see was that the unit came with nylon trimmer line, already installed. Too often, you have to buy line separately. I was a little disappointed that the trimmer did not come with a free can of propane, but then I thought about the implications and laws surrounding shipping of propane and contents under pressure and realized why they wouldnt include one. Fortunately, Im a camper and I had a six pack of them in my shed.

Out of the box, the unit is pretty straight forward and comes with a carrying sling, engine with drive shaft, curved bottom shaft, carrying handle and trimmer guard. The drive shaft is capable of receiving different types of bottom shafts, such as edgers, extend-able tree trimmers and other such devices.

The placement of the large plastic carrying handle in the center of the shaft is a nice touch. Its big and thick and clamps down to the shaft with heavy screws and spring washers. It feels good in your hand and fills your palm up without being overly awkward.

On the right hand side of the trimmer head, you see the propane cage. There is an internal ring, that once the propane bottle is inserted, snaps down to hold the bottle tight inside the cage. Toward the bottom of the cage, you can see the propane  line coupling.

This angle shows the propane cage and hose coupling. The engine ships dry and included in the packing is a small bottle of oil. The oil reservoir is at a strange angle, but I was able to fill it with the contents of the oil bottle without spilling.

The operating end of the unit is a standard spool and synthetic line setup that works with the bump button feature. When the synthetic line gets too short to work effectively, tapping the button on the bottom of the unit against a hard surface such as a sidewalk, spools more line out.

The literature said that the unit should start with one to two pulls of the pull cord, unless it is the first time using it, in which case it could take up to six. This was the case when I started it, and it started on the sixth pull.

Once started, I was surprised as how quite it was.  (compared to every gas trimmer Ive ever owned) Another thing that I immediately noticed was that it had a steady stream of consistent power, unlike a lot of gas trimmers that stutter and cycle up and down or stall after starting and before warming up.

The Lehr Eco Trimmer does an incredible job doing what its made to do, trimming weeds. There is no hesitation when when engaging the trigger to spin the trimmer head. The curved shaft lends towards a natural feel and places the trimmer head exactly where you want it.


  • 95% less released pollutants
  • Consistent, solid power
  • Easy to use and load with propane bottles
  • Solid and well made construction
  • 4 stroke engine means it can handle tall grass and weeds
  • Has the ability to interchange different lawn-care attachments


  • Propane bottles are not re-fillable or recyclable
  • Unit is a bit heavier than the average home duty trimmer

UPDATE: I have since found out that propane canisters are recyclable. Coleman has the green key program which allows you to empty the canister completely so it can be recycled.  It is both possible and legal to refill the containers but the manufacturer would prefer that you dont.

The Lehr Eco Trimmer retails for about about $219.00 and could work as well as a commercial trimmer as a home trimmer. I found the trimmer to be very well made, clean, rather quite and powerfull enough to cut cleanly and efficiently through tall grass. The trimmer will run for 2 hours on one bottle of propane and 16 oz. propane tanks can be bought in packs of six for about $9.00. Depending on the size of your lawn, the average owner should easily be able to utilize this trimmer on a weekly basis for less than $10.00 for a full season.

Eco Tech Daily gives the Lear Eco Trimmer, a thumbs up!

E-Waste and Your Superfly iPhone

Technology is often cited by those on the long end of the generational divide as the embodiment of the downfall of society—it’s ruining our kids, they say. Their communication skills are trickling away, and they don’t play outside anymore, and a multitude of other aspersions cast ever since the first tool turned up in the hands of a younger hominid while an older one was around to pontificate on the matter.

The sad reality is, however, that the speedy advance of technology is giving some credence to the old-timer’s call: while the average computer was used for 10 years in the 1980s, the lifespan is just three now, and still falling. Mobile phones have an average life of two years, and they, too, can expect to be kept around less and less as their technology evolves into a handheld PC.

None of this is bad, you say—what’s the problem? The problem is what’s come to be called e-waste: the millions of tons every year of lead, mercury, lithium, and other toxins that are finding their way into our landfills through technology that didn’t exist as recently as 2005. To give you an idea of how fast three years is in technology, 2005 was the release date for the first-generation iPod nano.

Where is all this bad stuff in my technology, anyway?

It depends on the material. Lead is a common component is cathode ray tubes, the old-school TVs that we all had growing up, back before cable TV, LCD flat screens, and 400 channels. Of course, “common” is a relative term—each CRT contained 4 to 8 pounds of the stuff, and as lead paint has taught us, even a little lead is bad. The widespread availability of HDTVs has already consigned a lot of these old warhorses to the landfill, and recession or no, expect far more to head that way as the February 1st, 2009 deadline for the FCC’s digital conversion approaches.

Mercury, on the other hand, is far more rare—popular in the fluorescent lamps that illuminate laptop screens, and in tiny batteries that power circuit boards, but always available in minute amounts. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much mercury to render an area’s water supply useless for several years, and so it ‘s absolutely imperative to keep even trace amounts of this metal contained—something that we’re not doing as the largest generation yet of laptops heads for the dumpster.

Finally, there’s lithium—the baby of cell phones, which have switched over to a more efficient medium after being powered by, and filling our landfills for years with, a carcinogen, cadmium. Lithium is the primary component in cell phone batteries that are optimized for high-drain devices, and, since they’re usually specialized for a unit, and that unit has a lifespan of less than two years, are consigned to a quick death.

What, exactly, can lithium, mercury, and lead do to me?

Bad, bad things—they all have severe neurological aspects to their symptoms that manifest themselves in a variety of ways, in addition to other ways of making sure that you do not want to be alive. Lead poisoning is the most common, since it was common as a paint bas for several years—reduced cognitive ability, nausea, irritability, abdominal pain, insomnia, lethargy or hyperactivity and even seizures or a coma are all ways that the presence of toxic amounts of lead in your system can make itself be known. It works by attacking both your peripheral and central nervous systems, and doesn’t stop with you—the damage can also manifest itself through birth defects in your offspring.

Lithium is almost as bad—it can put you into a coma as well, and offers a chance for permanent neurological damage, but won’t pass on the deadly legacy to your children. Mercury? A veritable cakewalk, as your skin first feels like it’s itching constantly (peripheral neuropathy, an attack on your nervous system), and then it peels off, a symptom called desquamation.

Earth 911 logoIs anybody doing anything about it?

Every major manufacturer has a recycling program for their products, and most of them will accept their products for free. Lenovo/IBM even goes so far as to accept other manufacturer’s junk at over 30,000 drop-off locations, an effort towards corporate responsibility that leads their industry. There are also several retailer programs, of which Staples has the most universal program—bring them your e-waste, and they’ll accept almost anything: computers, laptops, printers, faxes, monitors, and all-in-ones. The EPA has a list of all the major donation programs available and Earth 911 has a roster of especially worthy causes, as well.

Five Ways to Trash Old CFLs Not the Environment

Compact Florescent Lightbulbs are a slam-dunk when it comes to saving energy. Unfortunately, CFLs contain mercury. Here’s how to safely dispose of them.

By now, most true EcoTechies know that LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting is the future. Take, for example, the 100 watt incandescent light bulb. An equivalent LED bulb would only draw 10 watts and could easily last 60,000 hours. That’s an astonishing energy savings.

But lets face it: $25 light bulbs are still a hard sell, even if they’ll recoup many times their purchase price in the form of lower energy bills. That leaves the much cheaper CFL (Compact Florescent Lightbulb) as efficiency champ until consumers get over the sticker shock of LED bulbs.

CFLs are a good deal. Shoppers have gotten used to seeing their curly shape on store shelves, and adoption rates have really taken off. About 100 million were sold in the United States last year.

But there’s a catch: CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, which is toxic and tough to get out of the environment. CFL bulbs don’t belong in your regular trash when they finally burn out. So what to do with them?

We’ve rounded up five ways (plus a backup plan) to handle retired CFL bulbs without making a mess of the environment. Pick the one that’s easiest for you and feel good about saving on your power bill.

Your Local Garbage Service

Probably the best place to start is with whoever currently picks up your household trash or recyclables. If you pay for this service, you’ll almost certainly find a customer service number on your bill. Give them a call and ask if they offer CFL or mercury recycling. If not, politely suggest they do so. Here’s an opportunity to write a letter, attend a meeting, or take some other activist role in highlighting the importance of proper CFL disposal. The appropriate follow-up will depend on whether your trash service is privately or publicly held.

Municipal Government

Whether or not local trash service is provided by a private contractor, your local municipality (city, county, or parish) is ultimately responsible for waste disposal.

Most phone directories have a blue pages directory of local government agencies. Try the listing for sanitation services. While curbside recycling is by no means universal, your area may have designated drop-off locations or periodic CFL collections. Should your local agency not have any CFL-specific provisions, ask about safe disposal of mercury or fluorescent tubes.


Unless you bought CFLs from Ikea, one of the first major vendors to offer a free take-back program, youre probably going to get some blank stares when you ask the manager of your local store about CFL recycling. Its worth the effort, though: retailers need to know their customers want safe disposal of the good they purchase. If you bought your CFLs from Wal-Mart, consider contacting their corporate headquarters and asking that they establish a company wide CFL return program.

Earth 911

Earth 911 is probably the United States and Canadas largest online clearinghouse of recycling information. Visit their site and enter CFL and your Zip code in the Find a Recycling Center field at the top of each page. Alternately, try mercury and fluorescent bulbs. If theres something in your region, it will almost certainly be listed. Earth 911 is currently attempting to expand its coverage to Europe, the first step toward an international registry of recycling options.

Commercial Services

There are a variety of for-profit companies which provide CFL and fluorescent bulb disposal by mail. Failing a local option, these firms represent a responsible and environmentally friendly channel for CFL recycling. Lightbulbrecycling, for instance, will send you a handy, postage-paid plastic pail which will accommodate about 30 CFLs more than most homes will use in many years. Just drop your spent CFLs in their well-engineered pail, and call FedEx for pick-up. The downside is that the service is quite expensive: about $120 per shipment. At today’s prices, this almost triples the unit price of your CFL. On the other hand, with the energy youll save with each bulb, you’re still ahead of the game. You’ll also know for sure that your CFLs are being recycled in a safe fashion.

And One More Thing

If none of these options are available to you, there’s a backup plan: storage.

As their name suggests, Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs don’t take up much room. Unless they’re broken or otherwise damaged, CFLs will hold their mercury indefinitely. Rather than disposing of them with household trash, simply store expended CFLs until easy recycling is available in your area. A five gallon PVC bucket with sealable top can be scrounged from most construction sites or purchased new for less than ten dollars. It should safely contain a couple dozen bulbs. A sturdy cardboard box lined with a heavy plastic garbage bag should also do the trick. Just place your CFL storage container out of harms way so it wont be dropped, crushed, or otherwise disturbed.

Update: Home Depot has become the largest U.S. retailer to launch a general CFL recycling program. Almost 2,000 Home Depot locations will now accept any type of CFL for recycling without charge to the consumer. Canada’s Home Depot stores began a CFL recycling program in November, 2007.

Lightning Strikes Etch the Sky Over White Sands National Monument

Several branches of lightning have hit the ground here, creating a spectacular natural light show for the people who have parked nearby. Gypsum does not usually manifest as sand because it dissolves in rainwater; it is the unique geography of the region that makes this amazing desert possible.

In this image, lightning strikes in the distance as a huge thunderstorm rolls by the relatively flat-looking stretch of white sand. The reason this gypsum desert exists is because the Tularosa Basin in which it is located creates an enveloped environment. As there is no route to the ocean here, water with gypsum dissolved in it starts to pool. Over time, the water evaporates such that the gypsum crystals remain behind. Slowly, these crystals are broken down and then carried by the wind to form dunes. Interestingly, gypsum reflects the rays of the sun, so that even on a scorching day it doesn’t feel hot. In fact, visitors can actually run barefoot across the dunes.

The ripples in the sand here give it a watery quality, almost as if it were a giant lake of milk. As much as 50 percent of New Mexico’s yearly rainfall comes during its monsoon season, which runs from late June to September. The storms that hit the region during this time are usually brief but intense, and they can be very localized. The precipitation that falls during the monsoon is vital for plants, grass and crops and keeps down the otherwise high temperatures of summer.