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April 2010 Issue (vol 41, number 4)
      (Previous Issue March 2010) - (Next Issue May 2010)

General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, April 27, 7:00 PM
Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room
PROGRAM: What’s Happening in My Lake?

Professor Robin Matthews, Director of the Institute for Watershed Studies at Western Washington University, will present an overview of the institute’s lake monitoring programs, including an update on water quality in Lake Whatcom. Professor Matthews has studied Lake Whatcom since 1987 and during this time, the public’s interest in the condition of Lake Whatcom has grown significantly. The lake is showing many signs of water quality deterioration and is the target of intensive restoration and protection efforts, including moratoriums on growth and development, public education to minimize pollutants in runoff, and installation of storm water treatment systems throughout the watershed.

Although Lake Whatcom is a major research site, the institute also collects water samples at more than 50 other lakes in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, and Island Counties. Professor Matthews will describe the results from the first three years of this public service project and show you how to find information about lakes near you.

Professor Matthews’ research interests include freshwater ecology, and ecological data analysis. Her current research programs focus on monitoring surface water quality in county streams and lakes; identifying the impacts from agricultural and residential development on water quality; and evaluating the effectiveness of “best management practices” on improving water quality.

Join us for an informative evening and remember that meetings of the North Cascades Audubon Society are FREE and open to the public, so invite a couple of friends to join you. We’ll save a seat for you and treats and hot beverages will be available.

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From the President

“April, come she will.
The streams are ripe and swelled with rain.”

Those lyrics from Paul Simon are in many ways a metaphor for the array of activities and events that are going on for the next two months before we take our summer break.

Easter will be upon us before you know it and it just seems to me like it’s early this year. Of course, I still have a problem equating Easter eggs with rabbits, and what is it we’re supposed to be celebrating, anyway? Holidays are just getting stranger, the more we tailor them to fit into three-day weekends and then forget what they’re really about!

Speaking of eggs, our nesting box program is in full swing and I’m in the process of making more boxes most days when I can find the time. This is the nesting season, after all, and cavity nesting birds need a little boost from us to provide accommodations. If you need boxes, give me a call and I’ll even deliver if you’re anywhere nearby. Boxes will be available at the Flora and Fauna Fair at the Fairhaven Village Green on May 8.

We have expanded our program to offer new boxes like the Wood Duck box that I installed at Bug Lake a couple of weeks ago. If you live in or near good Wood Duck habitat and need a box, give me a call.

The entire month of May is Birdathon month and this is a wonderful opportunity and a bonafide excuse to go out and count birds. See page 5 for details on how you can participate.

And the big event in May is our 3rd Annual NCAS Dungeness Weekend Campout. The list is circulating and filling fast so be sure to contact me if you’d like to join us. Details for the 3-day extravaganza can be found on page 4, so consider coming along.

I think you get the idea of how busy we are and even though I’d like to write more, I have to run: a field trip in Whatcom Falls Park awaits, and then there’s that slide presentation at the museum, and the REI retreat and, and.....!


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15th Annual Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival

April 30-May 2

Mark your calendars for this one as April rolls into May.

One of the more successful birding festivals on the West Coast takes place in southwest Washington at the end of April, with the real stars of the show being the hundreds of thousands of migrating shorebirds on the way to their northern breeding grounds.

Bowermann Basin, the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, and the ocean beaches offer phenomenal numbers of shorebirds and the Grays Harbor Audubon Society serves as the perfect host for the birds as well as the people who come to watch them.

For more information and details about the festival, as well as best times for viewing, visit http://www.shorebirdfestival.com.

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NCAS Spring Field Trips

Paul Woodcock
NCAS Field Trip Chair

Spring is a very exciting time to experience nature. Flowers and trees are in bloom, bright new leaves decorate the landscape, and migrant birds return from the tropics. There are few sights more pleasing to a Northwest birder than the first Bullock’s Oriole of the season or a Townsend’s Warbler singing high in a Douglas fir. Few sounds are more exciting than an Olive-sided Flycatcher singing in the top of a dead cedar or a Swainson’s Thrush filling the evening forest with its song. Do not let the season slip by without getting out and experiencing the excitement. You can do that by joining us on one of the field trips listed below. Come out with us and you will not be disappointed.

NCAS field trips are open to all who wish to attend, FREE of charge. We limit the number of participants on many of our trips to minimize environmental impact and to assure a quality experience; therefore, advance registration is often required. Carpooling is encouraged and we urge all passengers to share expenses with those who drive. Please call Paul at 380-3356 if you have any questions or suggestions for future trips or would like to volunteer to be a trip leader.

Saturday,April 3. Semiahmoo Spit.

Join us to Bird the Beaches of Semiahmoo Bay and Drayton Harbor, the only designated Important Bird Area in Whatcom County. These half-day trips, on the first Saturday of each month, are co-sponsored by NCAS and Whatcom County Parks. Semiahmoo is one of our area’s most scenic, biologically-rich, and environmentally-challenged places. We will see concentrations of shorebirds, waterfowl, and other seabirds, as well as raptors and songbirds. Meet the group at 9 AM at Semiahmoo Park. Trip leader: Paul Woodcock. No registration required.

Saturday, April 10. Lake Terrell, Whatcom Wildlife Area.

This is a 5-6 hour trip to one of our favorite local places. You can expect to see ducks, coots, grebes, raptors, woodpeckers, finches, sparrows, and other resident songbirds plus a variety of early migrants and maybe some surprises. We will need a few drivers with WDFW parking permits! Beginning birders are welcome! 8 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Paul Woodcock, 380-3356.

Sunday, April 11. Whatcom Creek Walk.

We’ll walk both sides of Whatcom Creek in the heart of downtown. We’ll amble downstream to its mouth and check for birds in the Whatcom Waterway. Then, we’ll return upstream on the opposite side of the creek to get a better view of what we might have missed. The meeting place will be in front of city hall. There is potential for a variety of early spring birds where fresh water meets salt. 10 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Joe Meche. If you’d like to be part of this urban expedition, call Joe at 739-5383 or send an e-mail to mechejmch@aol.com.

Sunday, April 25. Birds on Bikes.

This field trip on wheels took place for the first time two years ago and, even though the initial response was lukewarm, we’ve decided to give it another shot. We’ll plan to meet at the Rotary Trailhead parking lot on Old Fairhaven Parkway, and take a leisurely pedal down Padden Creek to Marine Park. From there we’ll follow the shoreline of Bellingham Bay to Little Squalicum Beach. We’ll have a lunch break and look for birds before retracing our route to the starting point to call it a good day. The main requirements for this unique trip include a bike in good working order and a bike rider with an interest in combining bird watching with a bit of fresh air and exercise.

10 AM. Trip limit: 10. Trip leader: Joe Meche, 739-5383.

Saturday, May 1. Semiahmoo Spit.

Another chance to Bird the Beaches. Check the April 3 trip for details.

Saturday, May 8. Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve.

This will be a half-day trip to one of our new county parks. It is an excellent place to find resident and migrant birds of the forest, fields, and shore. Expect to find flycatchers, vireos, warblers, and tanagers in the woodlands and loons, scoters, and guillemots out on the water, plus eagles and other raptors.

7:30 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: John Horner, 676-6029.

Friday-Sunday, May 14-16. Dungeness NWR.

See page 4 for details on our 3rd annual campout.

Sunday, May 23. Whatcom Creek Walk.

This will be the last creek walk until September. Odds are great that we’ll see nesting birds and possibly even some young of the year. These walks are planned to remain consistent with previous walks. Same contact details as the April walk.

Saturday, June 5. Semiahmoo Spit.

Semiahmoo trips will continue on the first Saturday of each month throughout the summer. Details are the same as previous trips.

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3rd Annual NCAS Dungeness Campout

May 14-16

The enthusiasm generated by our first two ventures to the Olympic peninsula indicates that we need to carry on, so we have begun the process to continue what is sure to become an NCAS tradition. We have reserved the group campsite at the Clallam County Park at the Dungeness Recreation Area, just above the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.

This is a fantastic place for bird watching and beach-combing and we’ll be able to combine the two into one package. The group campsite is roomy enough for as many as 40 campers, so sign up early to reserve a spot. On our two previous trips, we had good weather, although some might disagree as to what exactly constitutes good weather. To that I say that even bad weather is better than no weather at all. Nothing tops off a good day of birding and camaraderie like a good campfire and a bit of live, acoustic music — and we’ll have both!

Once again, Paul Woodcock and I will lead two field trips. We’ll hike down to the Dungeness Spit and to the historic Dungeness Lighthouse on Saturday. The round trip to the lighthouse covers approximately 11 miles and there’s potential for good birds all along the way. The highlight just before we reach our destination is the large nesting colony of Caspian Terns. There might be as many as 750 breeding pairs on the adjacent Graveyard Spit, well within viewing range. Last year, we had an extra bonus when a Peregrine Falcon came by and caused every tern to take flight at once. Tern pandemonium!

On Sunday morning, we’ll have sufficient cups of coffee with breakfast as we strike camp and head for the Dungeness River Audubon Center. The habitat at the center and the birds we’ll see there and along the Railroad Bridge Trail will be in perfect contrast to those we’ll experience on the spit.

We encourage carpooling and tent camping, but there will be space in the parking area for a few small RVs/campers. This is a wonderful place to spend a weekend birding, relaxing, and socializing with your NCAS cohorts. If you’d like to join in the fun, call Joe Meche at 739-5383 or send an e-mail to mechejmch@aol.com.

Birdathon 2010

Join in the Fun!

Once again, we will try to revitalize one of our favorite fundraisers to start off the new decade. Birdathon offers a unique opportunity to get out and enjoy our spring birds and raise funds to help in chapter projects throughout the year.

The rules are simple: select any 24-hour period during the month of May to go out and count birds. You can do it solo or you can put together a team to accomplish this feat. Prior to your time in the field you (and your team) collect pledges from friends, family, and co-workers to support your efforts.

In the past, some have chosen to pledge a certain amount per species observed while others support by pledging a fixed amount. Either way, you have fun and enjoy the challenge of finding birds wherever you choose to spend your 24-hour period.

If you’re interested in participating or would like to have more information about the Birdathon, you can call Joe Meche at 739-5383 or send an e-mail to mechejmch@aol.com.

“When I entered college, I was devoted to out-of-doors natural history, and my ambition was to be a scientific man of the Audubon, or Wilson, or Baird, or Coues type — a man like Hart Merriam, or Frank Chapman, or Hornaday, to-day.”

Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography, 1920

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NCAS Volunteer Opportunities

We are always looking for volunteers to help out with our mission in the community. Currently, we have specific needs in the following areas:

Program Chair. Would you like to help us plan future programs? We are looking for an individual to help us organize our monthly programs. This is a board position, and you will have a lot of help from other board members in carrying out the duties of the position.

Scudder Pond Steward. Do you find yourself in the area of Scudder Pond from time to time — possibly walking your dog, walking with friends, or looking at wildlife? We are looking for one or more individuals to report to us on a more-or-less monthly basis regarding conditions of the pond, such as environmental disturbances, invasive species, litter, etc. This is not necessarily a board position, but could be if desired.

If you are interested in either of these positions or have questions, please contact us at info@northcascadesaudubon.org. We would love to hear from you.

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Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival

April 17, 2010

Join fellow outdoor and bird watching enthusiasts in Blaine for the 8th Annual Northwest Birding Festival. On hand will be a variety of kids’ activities, wildlife and educational exhibits, arts and crafts, live raptor presentations and a feature program to round out the day at the Blaine Performing Arts Center.

For more information and a complete list of events, visit the web site at http://www.blainechamber.com or call the chamber at 800-624-3555.

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