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April 2011 Issue (vol 42, number 4)
      (Previous Issue March 2011) - (Next Issue May 2011)

General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, April 26, 7:00 PM
Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room
PROGRAM: Whatcom Creek, From Top to Bottom

From its source at Lake Whatcom to its outflow into Bellingham Bay, Whatcom Creek drops 330’ and travels 3.5 miles through parks, neighborhoods, light industrial areas, and finally through the heart of downtown Bellingham. This unique riparian corridor has been a part of Bellingham’s history and provides a haven for a variety of wildlife along its entire length.

Joe Meche will take us on a virtual tour along the creek, stopping along the way to visit a few favorite spots and to celebrate what he considers to be a large part of the fabric of Bellingham. In the near wilderness of Whatcom Falls Park, it’s difficult to imagine that you’re still in the city. Salmon and steelhead come into the creek in the fall and numerous bird species utilize the creek throughout the year. Very few cities can boast of a quality stream to match Whatcom Creek.

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 can just imagine that everyone is heaving a collective sigh of relief by now. We’ve persevered and made it into spring with lengthening and noticeably milder days — you’ll notice that I didn’t say warmer. The morning weather reports at the end of March are all focused on deep mountain snows combining with rain to put most of western Washington on a flood alert! Ah yes, life in the Pacific Northwest.

So, it’s on into spring with colors beginning to appear, on trees and shrubs, in flower beds, and on the wing. Our wintering birds are getting antsy and looking toward their breeding grounds to the north and east, and even in our backyards and woodlots for our resident birds. Cavity nesters are already at work, doing a bit of avian remodeling, robins are everywhere it seems and in large numbers. Rufous Hummingbirds are joining the wintering Anna’s at feeders throughout the county, so nesting is at hand for those diminutive marvels.

First sightings reports of new arrivals dominate the posts on our local list serve. This will continue through April and into May and already, bird song fills the air at numerous locations around the village. And there are human activities with familiar names like Dungeness, Backyard Habitat Fair, Bird-athon (?), Farmers’ Market, Ski to Sea — signs of spring everywhere.

Those of us who can do and are able to do will always find things to do, and spring is the time of year when we try our best to put away our winter clothes and break into spring and even summer attire. The humorous ad that you might have seen says it all — the socks and sandals guy. He’s the typical Pacific Northwest creature who wears socks and sandals, often throughout the year!


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NCAS Spring Field Trips Warbler Days Ahead

Paul Woodcock
Field Trip Chair

Roger Tory Peterson called our North American wood warblers "the butterflies of the bird world." For many birders, warblers are high on their list of favorites and we wait expectantly for their return each spring. But for all their colorful exuberance, warblers can be hard to find and are often overlooked. Peterson quoted his friend, the artist Francis Lee Jacques as saying, "The difference between warblers and no warblers is very slight". Showy as they are, these neotropical migrants can be difficult to locate, particularly in our Northwest forests, but the rewards are very worth the effort. Join us this spring and experience the joys of warbler watching!

It is our aim to offer a variety of field trips that appeal to birders of all levels of experience and provide opportunities to share in the wonders of the changing seasons.

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 assure a quality experience and to minimize environmental disturbance; therefore, advanced registration is often required. Carpooling is expected of our participants and we urge all passengers to share expenses with those who drive. Please call Paul at 380-3356 if you have any questions, suggestions or would like to volunteer to assist with our field trip program.

Look for added field trips in every issue of The Avalanche.

Sunday, April 17. Whatcom Creek Walk.

Join us on our monthly walk along our own unique riparian corridor. With spring on the way, more birds will be moving around, up and down the creek. Meet in front of city hall at 10:00 AM. Trip Limit: 12. Trip Leader: Joe Meche, 739-5383.

Thursday, April 21. Intalco Property, Lake Terrell, & Birch Bay State Park.

This half-day trip will begin at the Intalco property then on to Lake Terrell and Birch Bay State Park. We will be hoping for some early spring migrants as well as for Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers and seabirds at the park. Bring binoculars, scopes, snacks and dress for the weather. No pre-registration is required. The group will meet at the southeast corner of the Sunset Square parking lot at 8:30 AM to carpool. Drivers will need Washington State Fish & Wildlife parking permits.

Trip Leaders; Andrea Warner, 734-9881, ajwarner@msn.com and Joan Bird, jbird202@hotmail.com.

Saturday, April 23. Beginning Birding.

If you are new to the world of birding, please join us for a capsule look at America's new national pastime. This five to six hour session will cover the history, basic skills, and tools of birdwatching including field guides, optics, methods of identification and local birding hotspots. After indoor discussion we will spend a few hours in the field practicing our skills. 8:30 AM. Trip Limit 10. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock. Please register by e-mail at paulwoodcock@comcast.net.

Saturday, April 30.

Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve. On this half-day trip to another of our recently established county parks we can expect to find warblers, vireos, flycatchers and tanagers, as well as the usual resident birds of the wooded uplands. On the beach, we will look for loons, scoters, other sea ducks and alcids. We also expect to locate eagles and other raptors overhead. 8:00 AM. Trip Limit: 12. Trip Leader: John Horner, 676-6029.

Sunday, May 1. Mayday Meander.

On this 4-6 hour walk, we'll cover the entire 3.5-mile length of Whatcom Creek, from Scudder Pond to Maritime Heritage Park and the downtown waterfront. Dippers should be active in the creek, along with potential for any number of riparian woodland species. We'll check last year's Osprey nest for activity along with woodpeckers in the old burn from the big gas explosion. We'll plan ahead to set up a carpool situation to have sufficient vehicles at both ends to return to our respective rides at the end of the walk. 9:00 AM. Trip Limit: 12. Trip Leader: Joe Meche, 739-5383

Saturday, May 7. Semiahmoo Spit.

"Birding the Beaches" at Semiahmmoo County Park, the only designated Important Bird Area in Whatcom County. These trips are co-sponsored by NCAS and Whatcom County Parks on the first Saturday of each month. The Semiahmoo and Drayton Harbor area is one of our most scenic, biologically rich, and environmentally challenged places. We will see loons, waterfowl, and other seabirds as well as raptors and migrant songbirds such as warblers, thrushes, and hummingbirds. Meet at 9:00 AM at Semiahmoo County Park. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock. No registration required.

Sunday, May 8. Whatcom Creek Walk.

Same details as previous walks. Friday, May 13 to Sunday, May 15. Dungeness Campout. See page 5 for details.

Saturday, June 4. Semiahmoo Spit.

Repeated on the first Saturday of each month, this trip will be identical to the May 7 trip but the birds will change with the seasons.

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Scudder Pond

Ham Hayes

We now have a Scudder Pond sightings list posted on the NCAS website, under Scudder Pond News. It illustrates how rich and varied the bird population is at the pond. Easy access, too!

The Scudder Pond stewards (Ham Hayes, Carl and Gloria Blench, Cindy Johnson) and NCAS are exploring the possibility of constructing an observation deck/viewing area at the pond. The idea is to create a place to watch birds that’s off the trail and out of the way of trail traffic. This will work well for all trail and pond users. The permitting process is being explored at this time, to make sure that all our ducks are in the correct row.

Editor’s note: This report will be a regular feature in future newsletters to keep all chapter members up to date on Scudder Pond plans, projects, and birds.

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NCAS Board of Directors March 7 Meeting Notes

Judy Krieger
NCAS Secretary

• The Dungeness Spit campout is confirmed for 5/13 to 5/15. Participants need to make ferry reservations.

• Joe and Paul did a well-received nesting box presentation for the Waldorf School’s 3rd grade class on February 19.

• The Board had an energetic update and discussion of the Gateway Pacific Terminal project and the coal trains issue. Discussion centered on the state of play with respect to both issues, and what the chapter could do most usefully at this point. Paul volunteered to discuss the situation with coalition lawyers. The situation is evolving rapidly with different groups working on both issues.

• Chapter will have a booth at the Backyard Habitat Fair on Saturday, May 14. Rae Edwards, Education Committee Chair, needs people to help.

• Kudos to Sheila Sondik for increasing membership renewals.

• The Scudder Pond Stewards group is very active. Four Wood Duck boxes have been installed and new brochures and boxes to hold them are in the works.

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4th Annual NCAS Dungeness Campout

May 13-15

It’s time to start thinking about spending a couple of nights in a tent at a great place to see lots of birds, especially now since we’re only a month and a half away. It’s time to plan and look forward to our return to the Dungeness Recreation Area for our 4th annual NCAS Dungeness Campout.

We have reserved the group campsite for the weekend and will have enough room for at least 30 campers. As before, tents are the preferred way to go, though we will have room for a few small camper/RV variations.

The overall size of the recreation area allows for a variety of solo and small group exploration over the weekend. Everyone takes/prepares their own meals and the covered shelter has tables and plenty of room for a good number of camp stoves, etc. Saturday will be the main group event for those who wish to take the big 11-mile hike to the historic Dungeness Lighthouse. On Sunday, after we strike camp, those who wish to continue the fun will convoy to the Dungeness River Center to take a Sunday morning bird walk along part of the Discovery Trail. The contrast between the birds that we’ll see on the two days can be dramatic.

If you plan to take the ferry to the peninsula, it’s a good idea to make a reservation through the Washington State Ferry’s official web site. You can reserve a spot by following the links at http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries. Keep in mind that the ferry formerly known as the Keystone-Port Townsend ferry is now the Coupeville-Port Townsend ferry. Please don’t ask me why.

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When I was a child, my family would travel,

Out to western Kentucky where my parents were born.

To a backwoods old town that’s often remembered,

So many times that my memories are worn.


And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County,

Down by the Green River where Paradise lay.

Well I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking,

Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it way.

Sometimes we’d travel right down the Green River,

To the abandoned old prison down by Adrie Hill.

Where the air smelled like snakes and we’d shoot with our pistols,

But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.


Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel,

And they tortured the timber and they stripped all the land.

They dug for the coal til the land was forsaken,

And they wrote it all down as the progress of man.


When I die let my ashes float down the Green River,

Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester Dam.

I’ll be halfway to heaven with Paradise waiting,

Just five miles away from wherever I am.

And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County,

Down by the Green River where Paradise lay.

Well I’m sorry my son but you’re too late in asking,

Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.

Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.

Words and music
John Prine

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