The wisps of smoke are birds/insects being immolated by the Ivanpah solar farm.
A macabre fireworks show unfolds each day along I-15 west of Las Vegas, as birds fly into concentrated beams of sunlight and are instantly incinerated, leaving wisps of white smoke against the blue desert sky.
Workers at the Ivanpah Solar Plant have a name for the spectacle: “Streamers.”
Federal biologists say about 6,000 birds die from collisions or immolation annually while chasing flying insects around the facility’s three 40-story towers, which catch sunlight from five square miles of garage-door-size mirrors to drive the plant’s power-producing turbines.
Coyotes are getting fat on Roadrunners.
In addition, coyotes eat dozens of road runners trapped along the outside of a perimeter fence that was designed to prevent federally threatened desert tortoises from wandering onto the property.
The title of this post is not one I ever expected to write … even when I write a post mocking the evil greenies.
“Investigators from the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, in a report kept confidential until this week, describe the power towers as a “mega trap” that claims layers of species in the same food chain. The lab is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“There were hundreds upon hundreds of butterflies (including monarchs, Danaus plexippus) and dragonfly carcasses,” the investigators said. “Some showed singeing, and many appeared to have just fallen from the sky. … Birds were also observed feeding on the insects. At times birds flew into the solar flux and ignited.””
Forensics lab staff observed a falcon or falcon-like bird with a plume of smoke streaming from its tail as it passed through the heat zone. The bird lost stability and descended, but the team could not locate it. The investigators could not identify many burning objects, which they call streamers.
“We observed many streamer events,” the report said. “It is claimed that these events represent the combustion of loose debris, or insects. Although some of the events are likely that, there were instances in which the amount of smoke produced by the ignition could only be explained by a larger flammable biomass such as a bird. Indeed, OLE (office of law enforcement) staff observed birds entering the solar flux and igniting, consequently becoming a streamer.
“OLE staff observed an average of one streamer event every two minutes.”
Read the rest … if you can.
(h/t Master Resource Blog)
Have you heard about the funnel effect? It appears solar plants can draw in millions of insects and fry them. And then migratory birds drop in to eat the insects and the birds then get fried too.
“USFWS also noted an issue ReWire hasn’t covered before, and we suspect it has something to do with that funnel effect: the mortality of insects. The agency says the Palen solar project may have a serious effect on insects, based on experience at BrightSource’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS) site, now nearing completion in San Bernardino County. “Staff with the CEC reported large mortalities of insects killed during flux testing at the ISEGS site,” says USFWS. “[A]mong those documented include migratory monarch butterflies and dragonflies.”
A subsequent passage in the note on insects is an important summary of the relevance of insect mortalities to risk to other wildlife:
The ecological effects of mass insect mortalities have not been investigated
and may lead to greater levels of mortality than have been anticipated. In particular,
concentrations of insects are likely to draw insectivorous and omnivorous migratory
birds, including many raptors, which may increase the risk of bird mortalities.
If you have a facility that both attracts an entire food chain and then poses a risk of mortality or injury to individual animals at any level in that chain, then you’ve created an ecosystem-wide population sink that can metaphorically “funnel” individual animals from a wide stretch of habitat to a single spot where they meet their demise.
“Some animal rights activists are wondering just how many birds green energy may unintentionally kill as more and more birds turn up dead at solar energy facilities throughout California.
A recent article by Vice author Lex Berko notes that dead birds are being found with “singed wings” around several California solar energy facilities.
It happens that many of California’s solar plants are, the article claims, in the path of “the four major north-to-south trajectories for migratory birds” called “the Pacific Flyway.”
Birds are dying in one of two ways. In some cases, they imagine the shining solar panels to be bodies of water and dive straight into them. There they die when they smash into the panels from the sky.
Others “feel the wrath of the harnessed sunlight.” The ultra polished solar mirrors bounce sunrays strong enough to burn the feathers off birds that quickly crash to the ground, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Many of the fowl dying as a result of their unfortunate flight paths over solar facilities are birds protected by the federal government under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.”