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November/December 2011 Issue (vol 42, number 8)
      (Previous Issue October 2011) - (Next Issue January 2012)



General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, November 22, 7:00 PM
Fairhaven Public Library Auditorium
PROGRAM:Coal Trains Come to Bellingham and the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve

Bob Ferris, Executive Director of ReSources and Matt Krogh, project manager of the North Sound Baykeeper Team, will present an in-depth look at all the issues involved in transporting coal by rail through Bellingham to Cherry Point; loading it onto ships at the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve; and shipping it primarily to China where it will be burned in electric power plants.

We will find out what this means for Bellingham and Whatcom County, the birds at Cherry Point, and the health of the planet. Bob and Matt will give us their take on the questions we have about coal.

Join us for an enlightening and 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

Wow! I can't believe it's November, already! Seems like just yesterday I was still wearing shorts and hoping that cool weather would be here soon. Well, 'soon' has arrived and my shorts have been put away for a while, unless I take a trip to some warmer clime, that is. As we try to figure out if el Nino is better than la Nina, we still have to deal with whatever nature sends our way. For me, the entire span of October through April is my favorite time of year. Wet? Cold? It's all good.

By the time you read this, the 2011 World Series will be history and football should be well into the third quarter or so. Another thing to remember is that there could be as many as 40-50,000 Snow Geese in our corner of the world, spending the winter in the lower B.C. mainland and on Fir Island, south of Mt. Vernon. Numerous other species of wintering birds are all around and providing some of the best bird watching of the year.

I'll start making my initial calls for the Christmas Bird Count after the first week of November and all the holiday hustle and bustle will tend to make us all glassy-eyed and stressed. If you reach that stress point, just don your winter gear and go out to see a few thousand birds in some of our local hotspots. You'll be amazed at the positive effects of fresh air and a few thousand good birds.

From all of us at NCAS, enjoy the holidays!

I collected this owl after a possible window strike on Oct. 25 and took it to the good folks at NW Rehab. I released this recovered, high-energy bundle of feathers on Oct. 29.

If you find injured wildlife, call 360-966-8845. The experienced and always eager staff will assist you. And while you’re at it, send your support to the clinic or lend a hand in any way you can.

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NCAS Year-end Field Trips

Paul Woodcock
Field Trip Chair

While winter is still two months away, you would not have known that if you were in the field today. Wind, rain, and 48 degrees certainly feel a lot like winter. And the winter birds are arriving! Growing numbers of loons, grebes, scoters, scaup, and harlequins are showing up in our bays and off our beaches, and many more are on the way. Peregrines, Merlins, and other raptors are coming from the north or from inland to enjoy the winter in our marine climate. Fox, Lincoln’s, and Golden-crowned Sparrows are already on their wintering grounds. Flocks of siskins are swirling through the tree tops in our fir forests, often joining with our not-so-golden resident goldfinches. The notes of Varied Thrushes welcome each hazy dawn and owls make their presence known after the sun departs….earlier each evening.

It's not winter yet, but we and all our fellow creatures are preparing for this most invigorating of all seasons. Just ahead of us is an exciting time to observe nature here in the Northwest. Be part of the excitement and join us in the field to experience the dramatic natural world of fall and winter in the Northwest. The investment is small and the rewards are great!

Our goal is 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 vp@northcascadesaudubon.org 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 are some more opportunities to get out in the field and observe nature. Please come along with us!

Saturday, November 5. Semiahmoo Spit.

Bird the beaches at the only designated Important Bird Area in Whatcom County. These three-hour trips, which happen on the first Saturday of every month, are co-sponsored by NCAS and Whatcom County Parks and are meant for birders of all skill levels. Beginners are encouraged to take part. Semiahmoo and Drayton Harbor are outstanding wildlife habitats that support large populations of migrating and wintering birds. We will see shorebirds, loons, grebes, sea and dabbling ducks, and other seabirds as well as a few raptors and songbirds. 9:00 AM. Meeting Place: Semiahmoo County Park. Trip Leader: Paul Wood-cock. No Registration Required.

Sunday, November 6. Blaine Harbor, Marine Park.

Join us for a four-hour walking tour of one of the best places to see a variety of birds in the county. From Marine Park, we will scope the tide flats for shorebirds and waterfowl and from the public pier at the end of Marine Drive, we will see loons, grebes, scoters, and a mixed bag of species in the channel between Blaine and Semiahmoo. Scopes are beneficial, carpooling is encouraged, and be sure to dress for November weather.

Meet at the first shelter after Xing the RR tracks at 9AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Joe Meche, 739-5383

Sunday, November 13. Whatcom Creek Walk.

We'll continue our monthly walks along B'ham&'s unique riparian corridor. The route will be the same but there should be more salmon in the creek and it's certain to be a little cooler than our last visit. This is an easy, meandering walk with a couple of stairways to negotiate, but think easy. Meet in front of city hall at 10 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Joe Meche, 739-5383.

Saturday, November 19. Ebey's Landing, Whidbey Island.

This will be an all-day adventure, totaling about 150 miles, to some of Whidbey Island's best birding spots such as Fort Ebey State Park, Crockett Lake, and Penn Cove. Woodland and prairie trails will provide opportunities to see raptors as well as sparrows and other passerines. In the beach and marine habitats we will find a variety of waders, waterfowl, alcids, and other seabird species. A lunch stop in Coupeville might be necessary. We will need a few drivers who have a Discovery Pass to access state lands. 8 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Paul Woodcock, 380-3356

Sunday, November 20. Scudder Pond/Whatcom Falls Park.

We’ll return for another visit to our own urban preserve and the best of all our city parks. While the landscape and the birds will be noticeably different from our last visit, there will be the thrill of the unexpected. Meet at the Electric Avenue parking area at 9 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Joe Meche, 739-5383.

Saturday, December 3. Semiahmoo Spit.

Come and bird the beaches again. Please check the November 5 trip above for a description.

Saturday, December 11. Whatcom Creek Walk.

Same details as before but it could be even cooler/colder than the November walk, so dress accordingly.

Saturday, January 7. Semiahmoo Spit.

Start the New Year right and go birding with us. Come back on the first Saturday of each month during the year.

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2011 Bellingham Christmas Bird Count December 18

It's time again to dust off those bins and bundle up accordingly to spend a day in the field as a participant in the National Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Since its beginning in 1900, the CBC has continued uninterrupted and contributed significantly to an impressive data base of winter bird populations.

The local CBC has been in operation since 1967 and we’ll do it again on Sunday, December 18, a week before the big day. After the count, we'll meet for the annual post-count potluck where we gather to go over the day's results and enjoy good food, warmth, and camaraderie with our fellow masochists….er, birders!

If you’re interested in participating, contact Joe Meche by phone at 739-5383 or by e-mail at mechejmch@aol.com.

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San Juan Ferry CBC

December 17

Hitch a ride on the Washington state ferry that travels from Anacortes to Sidney, B.C., and back, and count birds along the way. This unique CBC requires a working knowledge of marine birds that you’ll encounter along the way.

This count, in particular, requires a bit of stamina as well as the proper clothing for the potential range of weather that you'll encounter on the traverse. The counting is done from the deck of the ferry and it can be pretty exciting in many ways.

NCAS sponsors this count and will reimburse participants for their walk-on passage fees. If you’d like to take this bird-counting voyage, contact Joe Meche by phone at 739-5383 or by e-mail at mechejmch@aol.com.

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Bellingham Parks Volunteer Work Parties And Events

Crooked Path

November 5, 10AM-noon

We will be removing invasive plants and planting natives to increase the biodiversity along this trail between High & Garden Streets. Meet on High Street across from Laurel Park.

Padden Creek Trail at 6th Street

November 12, 10AM-noon

Remove invasive plants and plant native trees and shrubs.

Maritime Heritage Park

November 19, 9AM-noon

Join the efforts of the NSEA and B'ham Parks removing invasive plants to improve salmon habitat in the Whatcom Creek estuary. Meet at the end of C Street near the fish hatchery, access from Holly Street.

Whatcom Creek Trail

December 3, 9AM-noon

Lend a hand with NSEA and B’ham Parks to improve habitat for salmon and other wildlife along Whatcom Creek.

For more detailed info on all these volunteer opportunities, as well as the Make a Difference Day work parties on October 22, contact the Bellingham Parks and Recreation's Parks Volunteer Program at 778-7105, or visit their web site online at

http://www.cob.org/government/departments/parks/index.aspx.

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NCAS Board of Directors October meeting notes

Judy Krieger, NCAS Secretary

After the ordinary business was accomplished, your board discussed next spring's chapter campout. Dismayed by the low turnout at the last Dungeness trip, Joe suggested that we go to the Pearrygin Lake group camp next May. A lovely group campsite, good weather, and lots of birds were the deciding factors.

The group site is now reserved for May 18-20, so make your plans now to join fellow birders for a weekend of good birding and good fellowship.

The Christmas Bird Count dates have been set. The ferry count will be on December 17, and the Bellingham count and post-count potluck will be on December 18.

Steve Irving brought us up to date on the status of ACOW and WASAC, on recent developments in the Cherry Point and coal train issues.

Paul Woodcock brought up some new ideas for field trips. The trips to Canada are not on the schedule for this year – it's too difficult and time consuming to get back south across the border at the present time. There are areas south of Bellingham that are well worth exploring. STAY TUNED!

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NCAS Holiday Potluck at the Lairmont

Mark your calendars and plan to join us once more at the Lairmont Manor for our annual potluck. Lots of good food and good spirits as well as an entertaining program will help launch the holiday season, no matter how you observe it.

As in the past take a favorite pot luck dish, your own plates and utensils, and your choice of holiday beverage.

The address of the Lairmont is 405 Fieldston Road, in Edgemoor. If you need help with directions, contact any member of the board. We'll look forward to seeing you at the Lairmont.

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