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October 2006 Issue (vol 37, number 7)
      (Previous Issue September 2006) - (Next Issue November/December 2006)

OCTOBER General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, October 24, 7:30 PM
Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room
The Amazonian Lowlands of Peru

Peru is the third largest country in South America. Although it is only twice the size of Texas, it boasts over 1,800 species of birds, including 118 endemics, as compared to only about 900 species in all of North America! Peru is also home for 431 species of mammals (170 of which are bats), and countless snakes, amphibians, moths, butterflies, and some other amazing insects and a myriad of plants.

Perus Amazonian lowlands are where Jan and Keith Wiggers spent four weeks on trails and boats along and on the small, remote Rio Tambopata (home to the largest macaw and parrot clay lick in the world) and the wide, meandering Rio Napo (home of the largest canopy walk in the world) and the huge Rio Amazonas (Amazon River).

Come to see (and hear) via video, many birds (including macaws, nunbirds, and toucans), five species of monkeys, teeth-clacking javelinas, Brazilian tapir, giant river otter, and a variety of other mammals, snakes, frogs, butterflies, beetles, and some beautiful rainforest scenery.

Join us for a fascinating evening of adventure. As always, meetings of the North Cascades Audubon society are FREE and open to the public.

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Swan Observers Needed

Trumpeter and Tundra Swans will soon begin arriving in Whatcom County for the winter. As many of you are aware, since 1999 more than 2,300 swans mostly trumpeters have died from lead poisoning due to lead shot ingestion. Work from past years has narrowed the area where the shot might be located to several fields and wetlands. More work is planned this year and an experimental management action will be done. In order for this to be as successful as possible, we need your help.

We need people to monitor the swan population in the Whatcom County study area. This is a vital part of the overall project and involves counting all swans you find on your route and putting their locations on special maps which we will provide. The time involved will be 2-3 hours. Night roost monitoring also needs people to do radio telemetry. You will be trained to do this and the training takes about 1.5 hours.

The project runs from November 1, 2006, through February 28, 2007. You can participate as much or as little as you wish. We need people every day of the week. We will provide a spotting scope if one is needed. No special talent is required other than an interest in birding and contributing to an important effort to find the source of lead shot and put an end to the swan deaths.

Come out and bird with a purpose and well pay for gas and a bit more. Contact Martha Jordan at 425-787-0258, or by e-mail at swanlady@drizzle.com.

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Dave Schmalz
NCAS Field Trip Chair

Ah, autumn. Yes, its hard to let go of the long days and warmth of summer. But there is an antidote! Autumn and winter herald the arrival of tens of thousands of migratory birds of a multitude of species for which our marine waters provide not only critical habitat but incredible viewing and appreciation opportunities.

Birdwatching is one Americas fastest-growing outdoor recreational activities. And its no wonder. Whether focusing on identification, behavior, or simply the beauty of avian species, birdwatching provides the opportunity for a deeper and more meaningful connection with the natural world.

North Cascades Audubon offers a variety of trips designed for all levels of birdwatching experience. Outings emphasize discovery, wonder, education, and fun. All trips are open and FREE to members and non-members alike. Due to popularity, most trips require advance registration. . For more information or to register for a trip, contact the individual trip leaders listed below or NCAS Field Trips at 671-1537.

Please Note:

* Trips with an asterisk are sponsored by Whatcom County Parks and led by North Cascades Audubon guides.

** Trips with a double asterisk involve travel to, or through, Canada and therefore require a passport or birth certificate.

Saturday, October 21. Beginning Birdwatching.

This half-day trip covers all the basics of birdwatching including field guides, binoculars, scopes, basic identification, and where and when to visit local areas for best viewing. Also, enjoy some time in the field, practicing your skills at a local natural area. 8:30 AM. Trip Limit: 10. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock, 380-3356.

Sunday, October 29**. Reifel Island, British Columbia.

This is a full-day (half-day option) tour of one of our regions most spectacular and heralded wildlife sanctuaries. For the first two hours we will join the refuge guide, leading us to specialties of the day. Then well strike out on our own to observe waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, songbirds and much, much more. 8:00 AM. Trip Limit: 10. Trip Leader: Dave Schmalz, 671-1537.

Saturday, November 4*. Semiahmoo Spit.

Enjoy a half-day beach walk at one of Whatcom Countys most geographically stunning and biologically rich sites. The spit separates Drayton Harbor from Semiahmoo Bay, critical winter habitat for large numbers of seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, eagles, and falcons. 9:00 AM. Trip Limit: Open - No registration required. Meeting Place: Semiahmoo County Park. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock, 380-3356.

Saturday November 11**. Point Roberts.

This full-day (half-day option) adventure explores the unique and stunning marine ecology of one of Whatcom Countys most remote areas. The long, slender peninsula of Point Roberts separates the deeper waters of the Strait of Georgia from the shallow waters of Boundary Bay, home to wintering seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, eagles, and the site of numerous rarities over many years. The trip will hopefully include a visit to Lily Point, the largest privately owned, undeveloped site on the peninsula and long-coveted for its spectacular natural and habitat values (see November newsletter for more details). Co-sponsored by the Point Roberts Taxpayers Association. 8:00 AM. Trip Limit: 10. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock, 380-3356.

Sunday, November 19. Marine Park, Blaine.

This half-day walking tour (approx. 1 mile) of the Blaine Harbor Peninsula, Semiahmoo Bay, and the Blaine Harbor channel provides a veritable showcase and classroom for waterfowl, seabirds, and shorebirds, all arranged in a tight-knit tapestry according to habitat needs. 8:30 AM. Trip Limit: 10. Trip Leader: Dave Schmalz, 671-1537.

Saturday, December 2*. Semiahmoo Spit.

This trip is a repeat of the Saturday, November 4 trip (see above for details).

Sunday, December 3**. Boundary Bay, British Columbia.

This full-day (half-day option) tour explores the diversity and spectacle of one of our regions premier birdwatching locations. We will tour critical, continentally significant, winter habitat for seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, eagles, falcons and owls. 8:00 AM. Trip Limit:10. Trip Leader: Dave Schmalz, 671-1537.

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Birds/The Bird Watcher


Outside of zoo animals, birds are the most attentively observed creatures in our world. This is partly because of opportunity: most of us see more of them in the wild than we do jaguars, newts, bats, terrapins, or even squirrels. Birds are all over the place, and we are especially aware of them because they command our attention through two senses. They dont just display themselves in flight or hop around our feet on the sidewalk: they sing at us out of trees and bushes and other places too dark or high to see. This gives us a keener sense of their presence than we have with other animals.

Bruce Brooks
On the Wing

The Bird Watcher

Now the coast of the country is grazed by light Farmers are rising in America. Hunters in the North shoulder their guns And march off into the woods. The sky is crowded with small birds. Unnoticed they scatter across fields and towns.

Now in the twilight before work In his one moment of leisure The bird watcher steps out of his house To stand in the street and wait.

If a single stray circles nearby Or calls from a maze of branches, Or hovers as a speck far off, The watcher, with no one nearby to look, Points up and with no one to listen Breaks the silence, sounding out the name.

Carl Dennis

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Just Another Gem

Lila Emmer
NCAS Secretary

How many times have each of us heard the words, Wow, did you know about that gem in our own backyard? Yes, weve all heard it, ad nauseum, and now its my turn. Im going to enhance your awareness as to one more incredible gem in our own backyard!!

What do you know of the North Cascades Institute? I have been a member for several years and along with some of you, enjoyed the trips over to the headquarters in Sedro Woolley for a day or weekend session. But, this summer I actually took the time and totally enjoyed multiple days at their very new Learning Center at Diablo Lake!

With a friend from Bellingham, I signed up for the North Cascades Naturalists Retreat. Naturalist is not on either of our professional resumes. However, this one not only sounded like a learning opportunity but also a lot of fun. And, it was affordable and in the mountains. What more could a person ask? The catalogue promised mountain spires and shining glaciers, and mysterious features and clues to the past. We were asked to explore the landscape through the eyes of several experts a former park ranger/geologist/archaeologist, a botanist, and a thoroughly famous butterfly guy! We were hooked! We registered, we paid our fees, and we drove into the North Cascades National Park on the morning of July 12.

What a delightful shock when we crossed the Diablo Lake dam! Whereas, we were expecting one or two rustic buildings, we were confronted with multiple buildings buildings with architecture that soared into giant trees and blended into the environment. Wood balanced beneath the roof edges, each segment carved into a channel, to collect the rainwater, allowing us to listen and watch the rainwater run off the roof, along the wooden segment, and finally into a buried tank. Administration building, classrooms, lodges with comfortable bunks, hot showers, and (gratefully) flush toilets. This they call rustic? I call this gorgeous!

And the best part other than the teachers the other students; the field trips; the birds and flowers; the sacred Indian site; and cold beer by the lake (enjoying the glaciers) after learning how to net, study, and release butterflies yes, the best part may have been the amazing and stunning assortment of food! Let me tell you, folks, the food provided in the dining room, overlooking Diablo Lake (it may have been the croissants fresh from the oven one morning that pushed me over the edge) this truly is a gem in our own backyard.

May I encourage you, may I suggest, take your family, a friend, or just yourself. The experience reminded me of another many years ago when I allowed myself 10 days away from home and work and stress. Unfortunately, this experience was only 4 days but I felt the same as back then. After this special time in the mountains with special people, eventual reality is an inevitable intrusion, but I know there is always next season to once again sample the delights offered in their catalogue!!

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Bellingham Christmas Bird Count

December 17, 2006

I know that its only October but its time again to start thinking about this years Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The annual CBC continues to grow in popularity, as well as in credibility. The National Audubon Society has conducted the CBC since 1900 and the Bellingham CBC has been in business since 1967. The CBC is the leading citizen-science effort in the world and gives us significant data to track wintering birds across North America.

Well journey forth over hill and dale and count birds from dawn to dusk with the intrepid few starting earlier and staying later to look for owls and finish the day at a festive pre-holiday potluck. The big day culminates with a lively official/unofficial tally of the birds weve seen during the day.

The CBC goes on regardless of weather conditions, and thats actually part of the fun. The stories are much easier to embellish if the weather is foul. Nonetheless, if youre interested in participating and being a big part of history, please give me a call at 738-0641. If you prefer, you can e-mail me at joemeche@aol.com.

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