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November/December 2007 Issue (vol 38, number 8)
      (Previous Issue October 2007) - (Next Issue January 2008)

NOVEMBER General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, November 27, 7:00 PM
Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room
PROGRAM: Birding in Costa Rica

Long-time chapter member and avid birder Barry Ulman will entertain us with photos from a trip he took to Costa Rica last summer. Barry spent a month there enjoying the birdlife. While he spent half the time with purely recreational birding, he also spent time on an Earthwatch project helping with research on shade-grown coffee plantations, where bird watching actually served a purpose.

Join Barry as he talks about his experiences, accompanied by photographs of some of the wonderful birds that inhabit Costa Rica.

As always, meetings of the North Cascades Audubon Society are FREE and open to the public.

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From the President

Theres no denying that weve seen the last of summer. And I know that leaf blower mating season is in full swing since I can easily hear the males calling early in the morning and sometimes throughout the day. Ghosts and goblins will soon be roaming the streets in search of treats, and Daylight Saving Time will be shelved for another six months.

With reports streaming in about thousands of Snow Geese on Fir Island, the seasonal pendulum has swung. And now we begin what many astute observers consider to be the best time of year for birding. While youre out and about between now and April, check to see if you notice any variations in the numbers of birds that you see, compared to previous winters.

This time of year is also the beginning of a very busy time for the chapter. The holiday season has its usual assortment of festivities and family-related commitments. Add to that the annual NCAS Christmas Potluck and the continuation of the Bellingham Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

Well try a different venue for this years potluck and encourage more people to attend. If youre interested in joining us for the festivities or even lending a hand to set up for the evening, contact us by phone or e-mail. Read the article on page 3 for details and more info.

The CBC has been taking place in Bellingham since 1967 and is one of the oldest counts in Washington state. If youd like more details on this event, read the article on page 4.

On a different note, Steve and Helene Irving, Paul Woodcock, and I recently attended the Fall Audubon Council of Washington (ACOW) in Sequim. The ACOW is a chance to get caught up with important issues that are happening around the state and touch base with the staff from the state office. ACOWs are held every 6 months and are hosted by one of the 27 Audubon chapters in the state. Our turn will come around again in about....eleven years! Wed better start planning now.

So, think about joining us as we get into this busy season that promises to be exciting on many fronts. I extend the best of holiday greetings to all of you from the officers and committee chairs of North Cascades Audubon. Keep in touch and stay warm and cozy.

Put on that old blue wooly coat

that keeps you from the chill,

October Winds have come to town

and summers oer the hill,

Bill Staines

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NCAS Christmas Potluck

Diane Birsner
NCAS Treasurer and Party Maven

**Recipe for a Holiday Party: Add members, family and friends; mix well.

This years holiday potluck promises to be fun and entertaining! Its going to be held at the historic Lairmont Manor in Fairhaven. A larger space and a festive atmosphere will make for a successful party. All we need is you, your family, and your friends.

Here are the party details:

Date: Wednesday, December 5, 6-9 PM.

Place: Lairmont Manor, 405 Fieldston Road

Directions: From the intersection of 12th Street and Old Fairhaven Parkway, head south and cross the Padden Creek bridge. At the first light, take a half-right turn onto Hawthorne Road and proceed uphill with Fairhaven Middle School on your left. Continue about &#;&#; mile and turn left onto Fieldston Road (watch for the Lairmont Manor sign). Lairmont Manor is on the left, less than a block from the turn, and well marked with stone signs at the entryway. Proceed up the driveway, bearing left, and park in front.

Dress: Bellingham casual.

What to bring:

Your potluck dish.

Serving and eating ware.

Your beverage of choice (beer and/or wine OK!).

Who to bring:

Your friends and family.

Well provide coffee, tea, and a program thats sure to entertain. We hope to see you there!

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This Old Tree

Join John Wesselink, The Tree ID Man, for a slide- show presentation of Bellinghams most magnificent trees. John has mapped hundreds of historic trees in Elizabeth Park, Broadway Park, and the Bayview Cemetery. His love of dendrology (the study of trees) will flavor his presentation.

This event is sponsored by the Tree Keepers and the Bellingham Public Library, and is FREE and open to all. Come and learn more about your neighborhoods heritage trees.

Bellingham Public Library

Fairhaven Branch

Saturday, November 10

2:30-3:30 PM

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Flicker on Global Warming

What were we thinking? We dump more than 21 million tons of greenhouse-gas pollution into the atmosphere every day. Did we think it wouldnt matter?

Unlike some pollutants that dissipate over time or weaken as they become diluted, greenhouse-gas pollution can last for centuries and continues building up in the atmosphere. As it accumulates, it forms a barrier around the planet that traps heat.

Average global temperatures have already increased by one degree Fahrenheit over the past century, and 13 of the hottest years on record have occurred since 1990. Until recently there was a lingering scientific debate about whether the rise was the result of human activity or something else. That debate is now over. Carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuelscoal, oil, and natural gasis the problems largest source.

More than 20 years ago, some scientists predicted that our excessive dependence on fossil fuels would cause temperatures to rise, and that as a result we could expect more severe storms, heat waves, and droughts. Sea ice would melt and sea levels would rise. All of these are now happening. In fact, a recent report indicates that Arctic ice is actually melting three times faster than previous models indicated. As the layer of greenhouse-gas pollution thickens, our planet is entering uncharted territory. An additional rise of two to three degrees Fahrenheit will cause climate-associated disasters to worsen. Warming above that level risks large-scale, irreversible changes, including the extinction of many species, the more rapid spread of water- and pest-borne diseases, and the loss of coastal areas to rising sea levels. The world we would leave for our children and grandchildren would be a very different place.

There is still time to prevent the worst consequences by reducing greenhouse-gas pollution now. Each of us can start by minimizing our own carbon footprint. We can encourage local governments to pass energy-efficient building codes, as New York City has done for its municipal buildings, or pressure state governments to pass energy-efficient legislation, as New Jersey has. Most important, Congress must adopt mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas pollution, reducing emissions by at least 12-20 percent by 2020, and by 80 percent by mid-century.

The climate crisis is global. Since the United States contributes one-quarter of the worlds greenhouse-gas pollution, we should lead the world in addressing the problem. In doing so, we can build a new energy economy that will create jobs and opportunities for American business and farmers to produce clean power, clean cars, and clean, sustainable fuels.

This is the most important challenge we have ever faced. But we know the cause and the solutions. To get active, visit www.audubon.org/globalwarming.

John Flicker

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Bellingham Christmas Bird Count

December 16

Since 1900, numerous die-hard birders have sallied forth on cold and often wet December mornings to count birds in the worlds oldest citizen science effortthe National Audubon Societys Christmas Bird Count (CBC). In Bellingham, weve been doing it since 1967. And were going to do it again this year on Sunday, December 16.

Well count all day from sunrise to sunset. Those wishing to pursue owls at any time should feel free to do so. After the count, well assemble to turn in our checklists and perhaps share tales of our day in the field as citizen scientists. Well also enjoy the warmth and camaraderie of the post-count potluck.

Despite opinions to the contrary, the CBC Committee makes every effort to involve as many people as are interested in participating. Nevertheless, we will not overload parties but will consider splitting territories to accommodate as many participants as possible. We try to keep it simple so as to avoid chaos and/or confusion. We conduct the Bellingham CBC the way we have always conducted the Bellingham CBC, and it seems to have worked just fine for 40 years. The primary focus of this and all other CBCs is to collect data on wintering populations of birds.

Are you interested in participating, as a party leader or party member? If so, contact the Bham CBC Coordinator, Joe Meche, by e-mail at joemeche@aol.com or by phone at 739-5383.

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San Juan Ferry CBC

December 15

The San Juan Ferry CBC will take place this year on Saturday, December 15. For those who might like to participate in this unique countthis is a count done on the water between Anacortes and Sidney, BCNCAS will reimburse for the ferry fees.

If you wish to participate and would like more details, contact Joe Meche by phone at 739-5383, or send him an e-mail at joemeche@aol.com.

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NCAS Fall Field Trips

Paul Woodcock
Field Trip Chair

Fall is here! To many of us, this time of year provides the best in Northwest birding. Winter migrants provide some of our areas best and most thrilling observations, especially on our marine and estuarine habitats. But let us not ignore our wintering songbirds. Flocks of sparrows and finches, in the fields or at the feeder are always a joy. And what can compare to the sound of a Winter Wren singing among the sword ferns under dripping Douglas firs. If you wish to expand your birding horizons or to share some camaraderie in field or forest, please join us this season. All NCAS field trips are free and open to the public. Advance registration is required for most trips.

If you have suggestions for future trips, questions, feedback on past experiences, or would like to share your expertise as a leader, please contact me by phone at 380-3356 or e-mail me at vp@northcascadesaudubon.org.

Saturday, November 3. 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 habitat for large numbers of seabirds, shorebirds, and waterfowl, as well as raptors and songbirds. 9 AM. No registration required. Trip leader: Paul Woodcock. This trip is sponsored by Whatcom County Parks with NCAS leadership.

Sunday, November 11. George Reifel Sanctuary, British Columbia.

This is a full-day tour (half-day option) of one of our areas most spectacular wildlife refuges, located on Westham Island, west of Ladner, BC. For the first two hours, our group will join the refuge naturalist for a guided tour featuring highlight species. We will then continue on our own to observe waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, songbirds, and much more. 8 AM. Trip limit: 10. Trip leader: Dave Schmalz, 671-1537. Passport or birth certificate and picture ID are required.

Saturday, November 24. Samish Flats.

This will be a full day outing (half-day option) to a nationally-recognized habitat on the delta fields of Skagit County. Eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls are the focus but waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds are also an attractionfor us as well as for the raptors. Scores of raptors are guaranteed and there are usually a few surprises. 8 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Paul Woodcock, 380-3356.

Saturday, December 1. Semiahmoo Spit.

This trip is a repeat of the November 3 trip. Please see above for details.

Sunday, December 2. Boundary Bay, British Columbia.

We will take a full-day tour (half-day option) that will explore the diversity and spectacle of one of our regions premier birding locations. We will cover critical, continentally-significant winter habitat for seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and raptors just across the Canadian border from Whatcom County. 8 AM. Trip limit: 10. Trip leader: Dave Schmalz, 671-1537. Passport or birth certificate with picture ID are required.

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NCAS Spring Field Trip to Dungeness Spit

As with any good field tripor trip of any sort for that mattera good plan is essential. At this point, we are in the very early planning stages for a field trip to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge/Dungeness Spit Recreation Area with an overnight campout at the Clallam County park just above the spit. The campground is super and should accommodate as large a group as we can muster, provided the planned number of participants signs up early enough to reserve the necessary site(s).

As the plan sits right now, Paul Woodcock and I will be on hand to lead one or two excursions onto the spit and over to the Dungeness River Audubon Center in Sequim. The idea came to us at the recent Audubon Council of Washington conference and we thought it would be a good idea to toss it out to the members.

What this means to you is that you need to let us know if youre interested so we can gauge the response and plan accordingly. It is essential that we get started now. You can reach Paul by e-mail at paulwoodcock@comcast.net or by phone at 380-3356. E-mail me at joemeche@aol.com or give me a call at 739-5383.

Let us hear from you!

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On Climate Change

Accentuate the Negative

Theres a hot controversy brewing about whether Americas cities and counties should be held accountable for greenhouse-gas emissions caused by poorly planned urban sprawl. Californias attorney general has sued rapidly growing San Benardino County, the nations largest in total land area, for failing to account for carbon and other pollutants in a 25-year growth plan called the Inland Empire. In Massachusetts, developers face an environmental review of their projects contributions to global warming. Several other states, including New York and Washington, also have laws that combat climate change. And as USA Todays John Ritter reported, if the California lawsuit succeeds, communities there and elsewhere could be forced to limit sprawl, promote compact development, require builders to design energy-efficient houses, and encourage more mass transit.

Sprawl in the Los Angeles megalopolis is the subject of the 15 large plates in Oblivion (Nazraeli Press), a slender book by San Francisco Bay-area photographer David Maisel. His aerial images, printed in negative form, present a disquieting and almost unrecognizable view of an alien landscape he calls Shadowlands. Maisel writes, This amorphous skein of strip malls and gated developments, highway entrances and exit ramps, lays unfurled over the landscape like a sheet over a cadaver. Surely the earth is dead beneath the sheer weight and breadth of this built form. And he asks, For those making their homes in the urban galaxy of Los Angelesan entity with neither limit nor centerdoes any space remain that can serve as a psychological refuge or sanctuary?

Les Line

Crash Course

Rising seas are not the only problems facing birds that nest along coastlines. Scientists are beginning to see worrisome signs that global warming might be creating food shortages for some seabirds. Take, for instance, the Cassins Auklet on the Farallon Islands off the California coast, whose population has plunged from 105,000 birds in 1972 to about 15,000 today. The auklets suffered near total reproductive failure in the past two mating seasonsan event unprecedented in 35 years of continuous research. It appears to be linked to the timing of changes in ocean currents leading to little productive upwelling at the right time in the area where the auklets feed, and very strange ocean conditions like anomalous winds leading to little available krill, says Russell Bradley, the Farallon program manger for Point Reyes Bird Observatory Conservation Science. We never saw complete breeding failure before, even during major El Ninos.

In Scotland, many seabirds rely on sandlances (known locally as sand eels) for food in the North Sea, where sandlances are becoming smaller than normal as well as harder for the birds to find. Scientists suspect that the rapid warming of the shallow North Sea3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 20 yearsmight have ultimately caused the sandlance population to crash. Morten Frederiksen, a biologist with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Scotland says the three last seabird breeding seasons have been among the worst recorded in the country. The population of one species, the Black-legged Kittiwake, has dropped in half since 1990 along the countrys east coast, and from about 54,000 in 1988 to 16,732 in 2002. Recent estimates suggest that there are only about 1,000 pairs left on the islands. Theres little evidence to suggest that seabirds in the North Sea can adapt to eating other food, says Frederiksen. In the long term, reducing the rate and extent of global warming is likely to be beneficial for marine ecosystems and for the seabirds that depend on them.

Rachel Dickinson

Tag, Youre It

As climate change and overfishing threaten ocean life, keeping tabs on marine animals is vital to conservation. But finding them isnt as easy as hide-and-seekit takes a sophisticated version of tag. The Ocean Tracking Network (OTN), a multi-partner conservation project, headquartered at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, aims to create a global system that tracks sea creaturesfrom salmon smolts to elephant sealsfor two decades and across all five oceans using electronic tags. In the past, research focused on what do my fish in my bay do, says Ron ODor, a senior scientist for the Census of Marine Life at the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education, who heads OTN. Building on the technology of two West Coast-based programs currently tracking marine animals, OTN researchers hope to create the ultimate tag, which will provide details on where the animal is, what its ocean environment is like, and other tagged animals it encounters. Data stored in the tagswhich are fastened to a fin or surgically implantedwill be picked up by satellites in space and receivers on the ocean floor and uploaded to a central database accessible to researchers worldwide.

Julie Leibach

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A Veritable Potpourri

NCAS Bylaws Changes
Tom Pratum
Bylaws Committee

Our chapter bylaws were last updated in 1999 and in the ensuing years, a number of proposed bylaws changes have been discussed by the Board of Directors. Briefly, these are as follows:

Membership changes to reflect the separation of chapter- only and National Audubon memberships.

Removal of term limits for officers.

Removal of references to the Register Receipts Committee, since register receipts can no longer be redeemed.

Addition of language creating an Advisory Board category for those individuals advising us regularly, but not being members of the board.

Miscellaneous spelling corrections and removal of gender-specific language.

If you have questions or concerns about these changes, or want to see a copy of the chapters bylaws, please contact Tom Pratum at water@northcascadesaudubon.org , or by phone at 756-1905.

Final adoption of these changes will be voted on at a future general membership meeting.

A Pair From Our Past

Last November, USDA ordered that all but essential uses of DDT be phased out by the end of 1971. But this cancellation was nullified, in effect, by six major DDT producers who elected to fight it. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, a product that is canceled may continue to be marketed if the order is protested.

But a suspended product must be removed from the market immediately, and may be moved back into the market only after the manufacturer has proved his product safe.

The latest court decisionwhich USDA is imposingstems from a suit by a group of conservationists which, USDA claims, doesnt have standing to complain about the agencys failure to act.

The conservationists are led by attorney James W. Moorman, who has successfully opposed construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System for many of these same groups. The groups themselves are the Environmental Defense Fund, Inc., the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, and the W. Michigan Environmental Action Council.

Moorman argued in court that DDT constitutes an imminent health hazard. USDA countered that while there is potential harm to the environmentspecifically to fish and wildlifethere is no evidence that the chemical is an imminent hazard to humans.

A Challenge

Professor Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, has urged that anyone who genuinely considers herself or himself a conservationist should recognize as a first order of business NOT to have any more children. The suggestion made is that conservationists should have only one or at most two children and any more than that should be adopted.

At a conference on concepts of pest management, held at Raleigh, North Carolina, Ehrlich stated that man, the earth pest, may be the planets greatest problem. He considers all other pest problems as being merely academic if man cant solve the population problem within the next two decades.

Editors note: The previous two articles were excerpted and reprinted in their original form from the August, 1970 issue of the North Cascades News, Volume 1, Number 3. This was the third issue of the newsletter of the North Cascades Chapter of the Seattle Audubon Society. That chapter eventually evolved into the North Cascades Audubon Society and that newsletter is now known as....The Avalanche.

Which bears the question: has there been progress to report on either of those two topics in the past 37 years? We would like to say yes; however, pesticides are still a major problem on the global stage and there seems to be no end to the numbers of humans inhabiting our ever-shrinking planet.

But, please, dont get me started!

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