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October 2010 Issue (vol 41, number 7)
      (Previous Issue September 2010) - (Next Issue November/December 2010)

General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, October 26, 7:00 PM
Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room

Keith and Jan Wiggers will present a video program condensed from a ten-week trip through Ecuador from November 2005 through January of 2006. The exotic displays of bird species like the Club-winged Manakin and the Long-wattled Umbrellabird, as well as many other beautiful birds, butterflies, monkeys, etc., make tiny Ecuador the main rival to New

Guinea for the most extraordinary displays on Earth.

Ecuador is about the size of Colorado and it is easy to access the nearly 1,000 species and the wide variety of habitats from the Amazonian lowlands to the high Andes, and out to the Galapagos Islands. Come and take a mini-vacation with the Wiggers to the warm equator.

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

I was afraid it would happen and sure enough, it has — I miss the Caspian Terns. As I write this in mid-September, I have made 35 trips to the site since the first part of June and every trip was special. The last trip I made involved a perimeter walk around the entire site that was incredibly busy this summer and now, maybe 100 birds are left, including chicks, ranging from a half-dozen that are 3 weeks old to over 40 that are 4-5 weeks old.

Even now, as I watch video that I shot as a second thought while I was doing other things, the energy and utter chaos of this large colony of nesting birds provided a wonderful experience. Hopefully, the site will be available to the terns again next year. I know that the Port wants to get in and clean up the site as soon as the last tern leaves, and what they might do to it is beyond my knowledge.

I plan, over the next few months, to put together some sort of draft proposal to encourage the Port to look into the economics of bird watching and realize that there is a hidden resource here, waiting to be tapped. It will come as no surprise to any of you that people who watch birds will travel to see them and spend money in the areas they visit.

During the summer, as I posted reports of the growing colony on three separate list serves, I received as many as three dozen requests for information about the location of the site and if it was possible to get close enough to see the terns, etc.

Savor the possibility of what might be — a bird- and birdwatcher-friendly sanctuary on the waterfront and accessible to all!

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Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

I had another unique opportunity this summer when I took a bit of time to rescue a possibly-injured Wilson’s Snipe that had somehow become lost and trapped in a backyard near Elizabeth Park. As the story unfolded, I snared the bird with a salmon net and took it to the Northwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. It was at the center where my day took an eye-opening turn. I knew about the center and the basics of what they do there, but this was my first visit.

The facility operates with one licensed wildlife rehabilitator and a corps of dedicated volunteers. When you go into the center, you immediately sense the care that is extended to every injured or orphaned animal that comes to them.

Many people call with questions about what to do with injured wildlife — now we know that there is a place for them. Founded in 2000, the center’s volunteers have responded to thousands of calls from people and have successfully released thousands of animals back to where they belong.

If you care about wildlife and would like to support this most valuable asset to our community, visit their web site at http://www.northwestwildlife.org.

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NCAS Fall Field Trips

Paul Woodcock
Field Trip Chair

Bird watching can be much more than just an enjoyable social activity. It is the challenge of locating, identifying and listing species as well as the thrill of experiencing the incredible beauty of these striking creatures. Most people who learn to appreciate birds want to learn more and become familiar with them, their habits and their way of life. With knowledge and familiarity there comes connectedness and caring; we want to know that these precious beings will always be with us, enriching our lives and those of generations to come. Through the contributions of birders like ourselves doing feeder counts, Christmas bird counts and breeding bird surveys, alarming trends are being discovered. Populations of many of our familiar species such as Rufous Hummingbirds, Northern Pintails, American Bitterns, Marbled Murrelets and Western Meadowlarks are diminishing greatly. So come on out in the field with us and become familiar with our fellow creatures. Bring your friends and family and experience what we need to preserve for future generations. Help spread the word. It is the aim of NCAS to provide a variety of field experiences that will appeal to people of all interests and abilities. We want your participation and we need your support in the form of ideas and volunteer assistance to help make this happen. Please contact me at paulwoodcock@comcast.net or by phone at (360)380-3356, with your feedback, ideas, or to volunteer as a field trip leader. More good leaders will mean more great trips and more people learning about, appreciating, and caring for our natural environment.

North Cascades Audubon field trips are open to all, members and non-members, free of charge. We often require advance registration in order to limit the number of participants, reduce negative impacts, and assure a quality experience. Here is our calendar of fall field trips. Please go birding with us!

Saturday, October 2. Semiahmoo Spit.

Bird the beaches at the only designated Important Bird Area in Whatcom County. These monthly, three-hour trips are co-sponsored by NCAS and Whatcom County Parks and are meant for birders of all skill levels. Semiahmoo is one of our area's most scenic, biologically rich, and environmentally challenged places. We will see shorebirds, loons, grebes, sea and dabbling ducks and other seabirds, as well as raptors and songbirds. 9:00 AM. Meeting Place: Semiahmoo County Park. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock. No Registration Required.

Saturday, October 23. Lake Padden and Environs.

Join naturalist Jim Edwards for a half-day trip to this familiar, yet rewarding suburban park. Look for waterfowl on the lake and search for resident and wintering passerines on the wooded trails around and above the lake. This area usually produces a raptor or two and possibly some surprises. 8:30 AM. Trip limit: 12. Leader: Jim Edwards, 966-4942.

Sunday, October 24. Whatcom Creek Walk.

We’ll meet in front of city hall at 10 AM and take a leisurely stroll along trails down Whatcom Creek to the waterfront and return upstream. Unexpected birds, like owls and loons are the highlight of this unique inner city walk. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Joe Meche, 739-5383.

Saturday, November 6. Semiahmoo Spit.

Another edition of Birding the Beaches, like the October 2 trip described above. Every month is different as we move into winter. Join us every month and watch the seasons change!

Saturday, November 13. Blaine, Birch Bay State Park, & Lake Terrell.

This half-day trip will begin at Marine Park in Blaine and them go on to Semiahmoo targeting shorebirds and Long-tailed Ducks. The third stop will be Birch Bay State Park and then on to Lake Terrell. Expect to find grebes, scoters, scaups, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Ruddy and Harlequin Ducks, and other species. Dress for the weather and take binoculars, spotting scope if you have one, and lunch or snacks as needed. Meet to carpool at the southeast corner of the Sunset Square parking lot. Call Andrea at 734-988 if you have questions. 8:30 AM. Trip Leaders: Andrea Warner and Joan Bird.

Sunday, November 14. Whatcom Creek Walk.

Same details as the October 24 walk.

Wednesday, November 17. George Reifel Migratory BirdSanctuary, Ladner B.C.

With apologies to those who cannot take part in a weekday trip, this full-day trip is scheduled to avoid crowds at the sanctuary and long border waits on the way home. One of our favorite destinations, Reifel Sanctuary is located on Westham Island and is home to wintering shorebirds, raptors, songbirds, and large concentrations of waterfowl. Owls and nomadic winter species are often present. 8:00 AM. Trip Limit 12. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock, 380-3356. Passports are required to cross the border into Canada.

Saturday, December 4. Semiahmoo Spit.

Bird the beaches again as we do on the first Saturday of each month. Please check the October 2 trip above for a description.

Saturday, December 11. Skagit Flats to Padilla Bay.

This will be a four- to six-hour trip to the delta fields of northern Skagit County. The area is famous for wintering raptors, Bald Eagles, Short-eared Owls, and several species of falcons, as well as shorebirds, waterfowl, and passerines. After covering the flats, the group will head south to the Brazeale Interpretive Center to check the trails for woodland birds and Padilla Bay for waterfowl. Carpooling will be necessary to limit the number of vehicles. 8:30 AM. Trip Limit: 10. Trip Leader: John Horner, 676-6029.

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Bellingham Parks Volunteer Work Parties

Rae Edwards

Lend a hand keeping Bellingham green! For more information, call 778-7105.

Padden Creek Trail at 6th St.
Saturday, October 2. 10 AM-Noon

Old Village Trail
Saturday, October 9. 9:30 AM-Noon

Willow Creek Planting
Sunday, October 10. 1-4 PM

Maritime Heritage Park
Saturday, October 16. 9 AM-Noon

South Bay Trail
Saturday, October 30. 10 AM-Noon

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Clearcut to Scar Larrabee Park

Tom Pratum

On August 30, the state Department of Natural Resources approved a plan (FPA2811296) in which Great Western Lumber will clearcut an 80-acre inholding that is adjacent to Larrabee State Park, and just northwest of Blanchard Mountain. It is likely that this operation is proceeding as you read this — the logging trucks will proceed through the park and exit near the Clayton Beach parking lot.

This cut will obliterate a frequently used and scenic loop trail that leads from the Lost Lake Trail to the South Chuckanut Ridge Road (CM-1000). To gain an understanding of exactly where this is located, please see:


The fact that this is allowed to happen indicates the continuing lack of protection for the area encompassing the Chuckanuts — including Blanchard Mountain. If you would like to help protect this area, please contact the Chuckanut Conservancy at http://www.chuckanutconservancy.org.

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Tommy Gaines Research Stipend

We need your help to finish raising funds for the Tommy Gaines Research Stipend endowment at the Western Washington University Foundation. “We,” is a group of Tommy’s friends who want to honor Tommy through continuing his legacy of scientific research and community activism. Tommy passed on in 2004 after a multi-year battle with cancer, and in 2006 we created the stipend and started fundraising in 2007.

To date we have raised about $20,000. Our goal is reach $25,000 or more by the end of this year so that we can start awarding the stipend in 2011. You can help us reach our goal and strengthen Tommy’s legacy by making a gift to the WWU Foundation this fall. Instructions for making a gift are at the end of this article.

When fully funded, the endowment will produce a stipend of about $1,000 per year and will be available on a competitive basis to undergraduate and graduate students at Huxley College of the Environment, Western Washington University. The funds are managed by the Western Washington University Foundation and the stipend award is administered through Huxley College.

Tommy had a passion for forests and wildlife and strove to protect them by getting involved wherever he could—with the regulators, the timber companies, the community, all while doing on-the-ground monitoring and research. Tommy was the forestry chair while a North Cascades Audubon board member and among many other things, he reviewed every single forest practice application for Whatcom County while in that role. During his tenure as a board member, he enrolled at Huxley College to obtain his M.S. to gain both knowledge and more credibility in the eyes of the timber industry and regulatory agencies. It worked.

At Huxley College, he inspired others to work to protect the watersheds where they lived while directing his research to learning more about the Canyon Lake and Kenney Creek watersheds—where he lived. His thesis examined the role of unstable landforms as wildlife habitat: Unstable landforms should be protected from harvest, and as such, were often seen as wildlife areas by default. He championed for protection of wildlife habitat in its own right. Tommy was a catalyst; took on lonely against-all-odds efforts; and worked to inform, include, and involve the local and greater community in these efforts.

Students who receive a stipend will conduct applied research in the Canyon Lake Creek Community Forest and their projects will include a community involvement component. These criteria are intended to make students more effective at conducting research as well as communicating the research and results to the community. The Tommy Gaines Research Stipend endowment will benefit students, community, and the environment.

Please consider making a donation to the Tommy Gaines Research Stipend. The contribution is tax deductible and there are several options available for making a gift. You can go online to www.wwu.edu/give and fill out the online form and type “Tommy Gaines Research Stipend” into the gift designation field. Alternatively, a check may be mailed to the WWU Foundation, 516 High Street, OM 430, Bellingham, WA 98225-9034, with the check made out to the “WWU Foundation” with “Tommy Gaines Research Stipend” written on the memo line of the check. Other payment options can be found at www.foundation.wwu.edu by following the links “Giving to Western” and “Ways to Give.” You can also call Manca Valum, Director of Development at Huxley College at (360) 650-6542 or manca.valum@wwu.edu.

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The migration of birds has been, and still is, quite a mystery. It is undoubtably a matter of instinct, and also of example from older to younger birds. That these birds have any idea of the exact time of an advancing season is not to be accepted.

Scientific Digest, 1899

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