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Monarch Mysteries


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YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel

Environment

Eco Mystery Nature Adventure

Calling All Explorers and Nature Lovers.




Would you like go on an amazing Eco Adventure to three Magical Kingdoms? You don’t need to buy a ticket or pack a suitcase. You don’t need a map to find your way to distant lands. All you need to bring along is your CURIOSITY. Use you curiosity to unlock the door to the Kingdom Animalia, the Kingdom of Plantae, and the Kingdom of Fungi, ruled by Mother Nature, the queen of all living things.
So, go ahead, turn the key in the lock! Go outside, and open you eyes and ears, and start searching. Here’s what to search for:
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Manitou Cave of Alabama

Manitou Cave on Lookout Mountain, Alabama

On a brisk spring morning, we arrived at Manitou Caves on the outskirts of Fort Payne, Alabama, where Annette Reynolds, founder and steward of the caves, welcomed our group with a radiant smile.

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Environmental Education Conference

Environmental Education Association of Alabama
Conference Dauphin Island, Alabama
Rivers to the Gulf, Flowing Home
February 22-24, 2018
EEAA Celebrates 30 Years!

Just as the cold and rainy spell transformed into sunny and pleasant spring weather, Boris and I left for the much anticipated 2018 EEAA Conference at Dauphin Island, Alabama. I’ve written this blog to share a taste of the varied, worthwhile, and fun experience.
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How to Become a Citizen Scientist

Citizen Science Projects

When I began researching and writing my eco mystery series, The Adventures of The Sizzling Six, I did not fully anticipate the number of dedicated environmentalist I would meet along the way. I did not anticipate that I would encounter inspired and determined conservationists from all walks of life finding ways to protect the rich biodiversity of our state. Nor did I realize that had taken the first step toward becoming a citizen scientist.

Book Cover Piping Plover Eco Mystery

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Piping Plover Conservation

Search for the Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus)

Book Cover Piping Plover Eco Mystery


The inspiration for the eighth Eco mystery in the series,
The Adventures of the Sizzling Six:The Case of the Missing Piping Plovers began with Walker Golder’s presentation to the Birmingham Audubon Society. Golder is the National Audubon Society’s director of Audubon’s Atlantic Flyway Coast Initiative. His compelling account of the search for the Piping plover’s wintering hot spot on the remote Joulter Cays launched my own journey to write The Case of the Missing Piping Plovers.

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Earth Day Migratory Bird Day

Helping Birds Along the Way

On a perfect spring day, citizens celebrated the first
International Migratory Bird Day at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ Earth Day festival. At the Media Mint Publishing Booth, visitors learned that birds fly thousands of miles from their wintering areas in South America and the Caribbean to their summer nesting sites in the United States and Canada. A Piping plover, for example, can travel over a 1,000 miles from the Caribbean to the breeding areas in northern United States and Canada.

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Sharing our Seas and Shores

Audubon Sharing Our Seas and Shores Conservation Strategy
Walker Golder, a biologist known for his outstanding achievements to conserve breeding waterbirds, was the honored speaker at the 69th Birmingham Audubon Annual Banquet sponsored by Protective Life Corporation. Golder’s fascinating, illustrated presentation focused on “Sharing our Seas and Shores in the Atlantic Flyway: A Model for Flyway Scale Bird Conservation.” Golder highlighted the importance of bird conservation across the flyway migration routes, and throughout the entire annual cycle of breeding, migration, and wintering. Stretching from the Arctic tundra of Baffin Island to the Caribbean, the Atlantic Flyway spans more than 3,000 miles. However, development and urban sprawl along the Atlantic Flyway threatens the feeding grounds along the flyway vital to the birds’ survival.
Shore birds
Coastal birds at Dauphin Island, Alabama (Boris Datnow)

Golder chronicled his quest to save the iconic, piping plover, an endangered and threatened species, that nests on coastal beaches and barrier islands in the US. Indeed, we’ve all been mesmerized by this lithe little shorebird—colored for camouflage against dry sand — dancing along the water’s edge, skittering in and out of the surf, probing into the wet sand in search of a tasty morsel, and then deftly spearing up.

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Plovers in the Surf, Dauphin Island, Alabama (Boris Datnow)

The plovers’ wintering grounds remained a mystery until about five years ago. Golder co-lead the team of Audubon researchers that solved the mystery: the birds’ wintered in The Bahamas. This was a significant and exciting discovery. To protect an endangered species it is essential that conservationists pinpoint the location of the wintering grounds.
With the diligent work, the team of Audubon conservationists helped to spearhead an international conservation partnership that contributed to the August 2015 decision by the Bahamian government to establish the 114-acre Joulter Cays National Park. In fact, Joulter Cays is critical wintering habitat for 13 shorebird species. The National Audubon Team continues to band birds, to research, and to protect their habitats. This is a huge step forward—made more urgent by the threat of climate change.
Golder also emphasized the importance of inspiring locals, as well as visitors, to become protectors of the shorebirds. Instead of putting up negative warning signs, they had school children design posters asking people to SAVE OUR SHOREBIRDS. In addition, volunteers welcome visitors, and setup spotting scopes to observe the birds without disturbing them.
This clever approach struck a note with me. In my forth coming
Eco mystery on the Diamondback terrapins, I included a poster contest to help save the terrapins from drowning in crab traps.

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Poster Design by Ellie Usdan (6th Grader)

A native North Carolinian, Golder has devoted his 27-year career with Audubon to the protection of all birds, and particularly shorebirds in his home state and across the Atlantic Flyway.  He launched North Carolina’s Important Bird Areas program, and served leadership roles in the Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative, American Oystercatcher Conservation Initiative, South Carolina Shorebird Project, and development of the Southeast Waterbird Conservation Plan. Fortunately, under Golder’s dynamic management Audubon’s North Carolina Coastal Islands Sanctuary System has grown to 21 sanctuaries that protect more than 25,000 nesting pairs of waterbirds and shorebirds, representing 35 percent of North Carolina’s waterbird population including some of the state’s most imperiled species.
Birmingham Audubon, in partnership with Mobile Bay Audubon, promotes bird conservation through the Audubon Coastal Bird Survey along Alabama’s coast.


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