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October 2008 Issue (vol 39, number 7)
      (Previous Issue September 2008) - (Next Issue November/December 2008)

OCTOBER General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, October 28, 7:00 PM
Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room

Avid birders and nature enthusiasts, Skagit County residents Keith and Jan Wiggers have thrilled audiences in the past with their videos from far-away places and tonights program will be another one to remember. The Wiggers traveled in Indonesia in July and August of 2006 and saw everything from Birds of Paradise to Komodo dragons. Just sit back and enjoy this virtual tour with a bounty of wild things.

Remember that meetings of the North Cascades Audubon Society are FREE and open to the public. Invite a couple of friends to join you. Well save a seat for you and treats and hot beverages will be available.

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From the President

tis the season

If you read or heard the news about the road to Artist Point in late September, you know that fall has arrived in the Pacific Northwest. (We look to signs like this to let us know that summer is gone, again; and to paraphrase that great line from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, we dont need no stinkin calendars.) An early snowfall closed the last 2 miles of this local favorite and the Department of Transportation was debating whether or not to reopen the road. As it stands at this writing, the road is open, so theres still time to get up for some mountain birds before the serious snows arrive.

And, speaking of birds, Snow Geese have arrived at the George Reifel sanctuary in lower BC. What this all means is that its time to trade in those coveted shorts and Tevas and dust off the parkas and wool pants, because the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is looming. This foremost exemplar of citizen science started in 1900 and continues to add to the impressive data base of the seasonal movements of birds. The Bellingham CBC has been in business since 1967 and continues to thrive. We hope to see some new faces this year, so check this newsletter for updates as we get closer to Count Day. Check page 6 for more details.

Keep another eye on the newsletter for reports of our annual NCAS Christmas potluck. Last years event was rated by everyone as one of the best-ever potlucks. Well try to at least match the quality this year as we search for a location between now and then. Of course, the quality of any event is enhanced by the participants, and we have the most enthusiastic.

More up-to-date and topical is the need for a few good volunteers to help us monitor the health of our own urban nature preserve, Scudder Pond. See page 6 for details on the next meeting of the Scudder Pond Stewardship Committee.

And even though it might seem a bit early, were already making plans for the 2nd Annual NCAS Dungeness Weekend Campout! The consensus was overwhelming that we continue the success of our first effort this past May. It was a great time and even though the weather was challenging at times, everyone had a good time. This year, Ill lobby the management at the Clallam County Park to let us increase the number of campers we can accommodate. So, dont be shy. Call me now to reserve a spot.

Just to let you know that were busy, already. Were trying to keep the spirit of NCAS alive and kicking. If you ever have ideas to keep us even more alive and kicking, let us hear from you. This really is YOUR chapter we just work here.

As always, enjoy!

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NCAS 2008 Fall Field Trips

Paul Woodcock
Field Trip Chair

With temperatures in the low 50s and a steady drizzle falling, six determined birders hit the woods at Lake Terrell on the morning of September 20. Though the day was one of the last of summer, it did not feel that way and the trip did not turn out to be one of our better outings. The rain continued and seemed to increase steadily as the morning progressed.

We had great looks at Wood Ducks and Common Yellowthroats but not many birds were active and we decided to call it quits before noon. Our total was 25 species and the highlights were a Ruddy Duck, a Western Grebe, and a Band-tailed Pigeon. But we all enjoyed ourselves and agreed that it was good practice for the fall and winter birding to come, on trips like those listed below. Please check them out and join us.

As always, NCAS would appreciate your input and assistance in making this happen. If you have feedback on our field trip program or suggestions on improvements, new places to go, or different types of trips you would like to see us offer, please contact me by phone at 380-3356, or by e-mail at vp@northcascadesaudubon.org. Also, if you have expertise to share, NCAS can use your help. It takes good leaders to make field trips successful and more leaders mean more trips. Please get in touch!

North Cascades Audubon field trips are open to chapter members and non-members alike and are FREE of charge. We limit the number of participants for most of our trips in order to reduce environmental impact and to assure a quality experience. Therefore, advance registration is usually required.

Here is our current roster of trips for October and November. Please check the November issue of this newsletter as more trips will be added.

Saturday, October 4. Semiahmoo Spit.

For the third year, "Birding the Beaches" continues as a cooperative effort of NCAS and Whatcom County Parks on the first Saturday of each month. It is a half-day trip to some of Whatcom County's most scenic, biologically rich and heavily- used shorelines on Semiahmoo Bay and Drayton Harbor. We will view large numbers of seabirds, waterfowl, and shorebirds, as well as raptors and songbirds. 9:00 AM. No Registration Required. Meeting Place: Semiahmoo County Park. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock.

Sunday, October 19. An Urban Birdwalk. (*New)

This 4-hour morning walk will represent the potential of birding within the downtown core, from the waterfront and along

Whatcom Creek. This unique area is often overlooked and serves as a backyard for downtown residents. There can be a few surprising sightings along the way. Well plan to meet in the courtyard, just north of the downtown Parkade on Commercial Street and depart at 8 AM. Parking is available in the mezzanine level of the Parkade. Trip limit: 10. Trip leader, Joe Meche, 739-5383.

Saturday, November 1.

This field trip will be a repeat of the October 4 outing. Please see above for details. Each month is different at Semiahmoo. Come every month and watch the seasons change!

Saturday, November 8. Lake Terrell, Whatcom Wildlife Area.

This is a half-day trip co-sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Join us for an opportunity to look for resident and seasonal species at one of our best local birding locations. No registration required. Meeting place: Lake Terrell parking lot. *Remember that WDFW parking permits are required at Lake Terrell. Those who are interested in carpooling from another location, please contact Paul at 380-3356. Trip leaders: Paul Woodcock, and Jim Edwards of the Tennant Lake Interpretive Center.

Saturday, November 22. George Reifel Sanctuary, BC.

This will be a full-day trip to one of our favorite Northwest birding destinations. The Reifel sanctuary is located on Westham Island, west of Ladner, BC. Wintering songbirds, shorebirds, raptors, and particularly large concentrations of waterfowl will make this a memorable outing. 8 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Paul Woodcock, 380-3356. Passport or birth certificate with photo ID required to cross the border into Canada.

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Burke Museum Events

Arctic Wings: Miracle of Migration
September 13-December 18

A new environmental photography exhibit explores the phenomenon of bird migration to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a region that is environmentally crucial to the survival of over 190 bird species, yet is a hotbed for political controversy. Birds from across six continents and all 50 United States migrate to the refuge annually to take advantage of the 24-hour Arctic summer daylight and plentiful food sources.

This exhibit features over 30 photographs that capture the essence of the refuge and the birds that nest there.

The Owl and the Woodpecker

Award-winning photographer Paul Bannick will present a slide show and lecture, and will sign his new book, The Owl and the Woodpecker: Encounters with North Americas Most Iconic Birds. His book is a unique blend of personal field notes, rich natural history, and stunning photographs.

For more information on these and other events and to learn more about the Burke Museum, visit their superb web site at www.burkemuseum.org.

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Bellingham Parks Volunteer Program

Fall Work Parties 2008

Would you like to lend a hand or two and help restore some of Bellinghams natural treasures and trails? Heres a schedule of some of the opportunities you have to do just that, and more.

October 4, 10 AM-noon. Pine St. Trail.

Help Patrick Wu earn his Eagle Scout rank by planting natives along the trail.

October 11, 10 AM-noon. Euclid Park.

Geneva neighbors need your help battling English invaders holly and ivy!

October 18, 9 AM-noon. Squalicum Creek Park.

Come and plant a tree in the new dog park with members of the Grateful Dogs.

1-3 PM. South Bay Trail.

Join the Village Books staff in planting along the trail.

1-3 PM. West Street Beds.

The Columbia neighborhood would love your help with planting along West Street.

November 1, 10 AM-noon. Boulevard Park.

Help to get invasive plants out of the beautiful headlands section of Boulevard Park, located between the two docks.

9 AM-noon. Maritime Heritage Park.

The new trail needs help! Join Bellingham Parks and the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) removing invasive plants, planting, and mulching.

November 8, 10 AM-noon. Old Village Trail.

This old trail is continuing to improve. Come help plant and mulch along the trail running through the Lettered Streets Neighborhood.

November 15, 9 AM-noon. Padden Creek Trail at 6th St.

Help remove invasive plants and replace them with natives to improve wildlife habitat along the trail.

November 22, 9 AM-noon. Padden Creek at 24th Street.

Join us and NSEA as we help to improve riparian habitat along this salmon stream.

If youd like to participate in any of these work parties, contact Bellingham Parks at 778-7105.

And if youre still looking for work.....

Make a Difference Day

October 25, 9 AM-noon

Whatcom Volunteer Center

The following areas will be the focus of this special day:

Franklin Park. Plant trees with York neighbors.

Squalicum Creek Park. Plant trees and shrubs for the new park.

Old Village Trail. Move trees to new locations.

Memorial Park. Plant new shrubs at a newly developed site.

If youre interested in participating in these parties only, contact the Whatcom Volunteer Center at 734-3055.

Think About It

The flight of the wild goose is heavy and laborious, generally in a straight line, or in two lines approximating to a point, thus, >; in both cases, the van is led by an old gander, who every now and then pipes his well-known honk, as if to ask how they come on, and the honk of Alls well is generally returned by some of the party. Their course is in a straight line, with the exception of the undulations of their flight. When bewildered in foggy weather, they appear sometimes to be in great distress, flying about in an irregular manner, and for a considerable time over the same quarter, making a great clamor. On these occasions, should they approach the earth and alight, which they sometimes do, the only hospitality they meet is death and destruction from a whole neighborhood already in arms for their ruin.

Alexander Wilson
American Ornithology

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Scudder Pond Stewards

Barry Ulman, chair of the Scudder Pond Stewardship Program, requests that all interested parties attend a meeting to discuss Scudder Pond issues and concerns, as well as establishing a monitoring program at the pond. This NCAS property is an urban gem and a great little pocket preserve adjacent to Whatcom Falls Park.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 12, at 7:30 PM, at the Swan Caf on the corner of Forest and Holly. For the uninitiated, the caf is on the north end of the Community Food Co-op building.

The Lives of John and Clara Tennant

Historian Candace Wellman will present an illustrated program on the lives of John and Clara Tennant, 1858 settlers on Whatcom Countys first farm. John Tennant was also an explorer, judge, and Methodist missionary. Clara, the daughter of a Lummi leader, was influential in bridging the local cultures of the time.

This presentation is sponsored by the Friends of Tennant Lake/Hovander Park, and will take place on Tuesday, Oct 14, at 7 PM, at the Tennant Lake Interpretive Center, at 5236 Neilsen Rd., in Ferndale. The presentation is FREE and open to the public. Call 384-3064 for more information.

Great Backyard Bird Count

Planning is already underway for the 2009 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Join tens of thousands of everyday bird watchers for the 12th Annual GBBC on February 13-16. This is a free event and an opportunity for families, students, and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature in their own backyards, schoolyards, and local parks, and at the same time make an important contribution to conservation.

For more information or to register as a participant, visit the GBBC web site at http://www.birdcount.org.

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Christmas Bird Count

Sunday, December 14

Since 1967, local birdwatchers have been combing Whatcom County hill and dale in search of birds as part of the longest-running citizen science effort in the world the National Audubon Societys Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The CBC began in 1900 and to this day continues to add data tracking wintering bird populations.

If, like many of us, youre always looking for a good reason to spend the day in the field looking for birds, heres your chance. We usually run from sunup to sundown and those who are into owling often start early and stay late. At the end of the day, well gather for the festive post-count potluck. Its a great opportunity to extend the day with birds of a feather. The food is always great and the camaraderie is warm and cozy.

We try every year to get new people involved in the count, so if youd like to take part in this effort, please contact Joe Meche at 739-5383 or e-mail him at mechejmch@aol.com.

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NCAS is actively searching for someone to become our new Membership Chair. If you have basic computer skills and can handle spreadsheets, Excel, etc., wed love to talk to you. The Membership Chair is responsible for keeping our membership rolls up-to-date and also supply mailing labels for the newsletter once a month 9 times each year.

The Membership Chair is also a member of the NCAS Board of Directors and, as such, participates in all board decisions. Were really a great bunch to work with and wed love to have you. We can walk you through the basics until you get going and then applaud the great work youre doing.

If youre interested, contact Joe Meche at 739-5383 or by e-mail at president@northcascadesaudubon.org.

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Blaine Bald Eagles

The Friends of the Blaine Library will present an evening of photos and information about the protection of the local Bald Eagle habitat. Join noted biologist and conservationist David Hancock as he presents a history and slide show of Blaines Bald Eagles from 1955 to 2008.

The program is FREE and open to the public and will be held at the Blaine Public Library on October 8 at 7 PM. For more information, call 332-6484.

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A Flash from the Past

Trail Bikes and Wilderness

We believe that the encroachment of trail bikes into natural areas should be strongly discouraged. In furtherance of this belief, since December of last year Sunset Magazine has accepted no advertising from trail bikes. Furthermore, we recommend that all federal, state, and local agencies administering public lands reexamine their policies concerning trail bikes.

It is time to enact and enforce regulations ensuring a familys right to enjoy the rewards of a wilderness hike without trail bike intrusions.

Sunset Magazine
October, 1970

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Birds and the American Land

In her book The Land of Little Rain, Mary Austin wrote about a land that most people still think of as inhospitable, arid, and uninviting. We overcome the desert, in the same way that we overcame much of the continent. The native people, who had lived with the desert for thousands of years before the white people showed up, knew its secrets: the hidden ways, for example, of the plants that supplied them with food. The birds, as well as the deserts original inhabitants, were actors, part of a long enduring story. The birds were winged messengers from a symbolic universe of primal directions, relived every day and night under the great sun and the stars. The desert, Austin wrote, is a region in which plants and animals are cheerfully adapted to seasonal limitations. Later writers like Joseph Wood Krutch have found that to live in the desert leads to enlightenment of a rare kind and offers insights we can never attain without going there.

The land we call America is not entirely understood, even by modern nature writers and natural scientists. Any distinct range encompasses a complex of associated life, all responding to a very ancient past. The New World was not new because we named it so. Nor can we really understand so varied a race as the birds, with all their attributes, outside the context of the land, the sea, and the air above us. We will never know birds well enough without respecting the universal equality they share with us. Nor can we approach them without realizing that we do not know the land either, unless we see it in more than our own manipulative terms. Modern science is not enough. We have to go back again to the land we started with.

John Hay
The Great House of Birds

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