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March 2012 Issue (vol 43, number 3)
      (Previous Issue February 2012) - (Next Issue April 2012)

General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, March 27, 7:00 PM
Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room
PROGRAM: Butterfly Gardening

Butterflies have needs, just like any other wildlife. This evening you will learn what they need to call your backyard home, from plants that offer nectar for the flying adults to those that host their young. WWU graduate student David Droppers will provide us with the knowledge we need to create a backyard habitat for many of the butterfly species of the Puget Sound region. Topics will include basic butterfly biology and ecology, local species of butterflies, native plants, and more. 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

You might find it hard to believe, but we’re just three weeks away from March 20 − the first day of spring − and for whatever it’s worth, the psychological effect alone is a comfort. The winter we’re leaving behind will go on record as one of the strangest in some time. But then, who’s really to say?

No other member of the animal kingdom is as preoccupied with monitoring, recording, and comparing weather data from one year to the next as humans. Weather is always a handy topic of conversation, no matter what type of weather we’re experiencing at the moment. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always been a bit of a weather junkie and like my Dad, I especially enjoy bad weather. Bad weather is often a reminder that, no matter how much we feel like we’re in control, we’re really not. Opinions differ – film at eleven.

With the arrival of spring, we begin to emerge from our winter bunkers and look anew at the world outside. Those who suffered from cabin fever are seeing the light while those of us who have been outside the cabin all along continue to move forward. The birds of winter will soon be upstaged by the arrival of the colorful neotropical migrants that brighten our days with their colors and songs. When July 5 rolls around, we might be able to put away our rain gear and get on with summer.

NCAS activities will increase as we move into spring and summer. Those who wish to provide nesting boxes for cavity nesting species will find our table set up again at the Washington Conservation District’s Annual Plant Sale and Expo on the Whatcom Community College campus on March 24, and again at the Backyard Flora and Fauna Fair on the Village Green in Fairhaven on May 19. If you can’t make it to either of these events, boxes are available by calling or e-mailing me anytime.

Of special interest this year is the change of venue for our annual NCAS Weekend Campout. This year we’ll give the east side a chance to win our hearts after an extremely wet Sunday morning conference at Dungeness last year. We’ll see different birds and, hopefully, spend time complaining about the heat and the dry air. Details for the campout can be found on page 5 of this issue. Be sure to sign up if you’re interested in joining us over the mountains and through the woods.

We have three more general membership meetings on tap before we break for the summer so plan to drop in and tell us what you’ve been doing through the winter and what your plans are for the spring and summer. Everyone is still buzzing about this year’s Snowy Owl irruption so we can fill a lot of time trading stories about those magnificent birds, just in case we run out of things to talk about.

Welcome to spring and better weather for outdoor pursuits and remember to take time now and then to….REJOICE!

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NCAS Field Trips

Spring in the Air and in the Field
Paul Woodcock
VP / Field Trip Chair

As February winds to a close, it is possible to find many hopeful signs of spring amid the wind and rain. Already, trees are coming into blossom and early shrubs such as Indian Plum and Flowering Currant are beginning to flower. Occasionally, the sun gives us hints of the warmth to come. Though these last few weeks of winter provide some of our areas best opportunities for marine birding, we are also on the threshold of one of nature’s most amazing events – the arrival of spring migrants. Do not wait another year to experience the beauty and drama of neotropical birds arriving in our local waters, fields, and forests, either on their way farther north or to take up summer residence. There is a lot of beauty and inspiration to be found out there and a lot of exercise and exhilaration in the finding. Come along on an Audubon field trip and let us guide you into the world of spring. NCAS wishes 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, March 3. Semiahmoo Spit.

Join us and Bird the Beaches at Semiahmoo County Park and the only designated Important Bird Area in Whatcom County. These monthly trips are co-sponsored by NCAS and Whatcom County Parks and are meant for birders of all skill levels. Beginners are encouraged to take part. The Semiahmoo and Drayton Harbor area is one of our most scenic, biologically rich, and environmentally challenged places. We will see loons, concentrations of wintering waterfowl, shorebirds, and other seabirds as well as a few raptors and songbirds. An ideal trip for beginning birders. 9:00 AM. Meeting Place: Semiahmoo County Park. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock. No Registration Required.

Sunday, March 4. Whatcom Creek Walk.

We’ll continue our monthly walks along Bellingham’s unique riparian corridor. The route will be the same and it’s certain to be a little warmer than our last visit, but still dress accordingly. 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, March 17. Wings Over Water Birding Festival.

Please come to Blaine and join NCAS birders at viewing stations in Blaine and Semiahmoo. For more info, see the WOW article on page 4.

Saturday, March 24. Point Whitehorn Reserve.

This jewel offers a wide range of opportunities for early spring birding. On this 3-4 hour trip, we’ll scan the surrounding fields for raptors; listen for forest birds along the ¾-mile wheelchair accessible trail; and finally descend a bluff to a cobbled shoreline where marine birds can be seen in the adjacent Cherry Point Marine Reserve. In between bird sightings, we can touch on forest ecology and geology. Check the Whatcom County Parks and Recreation web site for details on this unique site at www.co.whatcom.wa.us/parks. 9:30 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Lynne Givler, 319-6042.

Sunday, March 25. Scudder Pond/Whatcom Falls Park.

Once again, we’ll welcome spring with a 2-4 hour Sunday morning walk through the NCAS urban preserve and into our superb city park. We’ll see who might be nesting already as we check the pond and follow the creek down to the old stone bridge at the main falls. 9 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Joe Meche, 739-5383.

Saturday, April 7. Semiahmoo Spit.

Come and bird the beaches again. Please check the February 4 trip for a full description.

Sunday, April 15. Whatcom Creek Walk.

Same details as the March walk.

Saturday, April 21. Stimpson Family Nature Preserve.

This trip is co-sponsored by the Whatcom Land Trust. Join us for an easy hike of about 2 miles through mixed deciduous and coniferous forest. We will search the Land Trust’s impressive reserve for returning migrants and resident woodland birds. Deer are usually plentiful and early-arriving migrants will be singing. 10 AM. Trip leader: Paul Woodcock. Please call the Whatcom Land Trust to register at 650-9470.

Saturday, May 5. Semiahmoo Spit.

Bird the Beaches, one more time!

Sunday, May 13. Whatcom Creek Walk.

Walk the creek, one more time!

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10th Annual Wings Over Water
Northwest Birding Festival
Saturday,March 17

It’s really hard to believe that this festival will celebrate its first decade this year! NCAS has been in on the ground floor since the first festival, which was known originally as the Washington Brant Festival. The way the story goes, very few people were aware of what a Brant was, so the committee opted for a name change. No matter the name, this year’s festival promises to be another opportunity to get out and see a few good birds; ride the historic Plover passenger ferry to and from Semiahmoo and into Semiahmoo Bay; attend enlightening presentations; and enjoy the variety of food, exhibits, and art in the large hall at Blaine Middle School. NCAS personnel will be stationed at four viewing stations to hand out brochures and assist with any questions about birds, bird IDs, where you are, etc. For more detailed information visit the Blaine Chamber of Commerce web site at www.blainechamber.com/wow

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How Is Our Website?

Ham Hayes
NCAS Webmaster

Is there something that you think could be improved? New features? Better organization? Friendlier? We are looking for ideas from our members and subscribers on how we can better serve you and our mission. If you have any specific suggestions, please forward them to info@northcascadesaudubon.org by March 30, 2012. Your ideas will count in our improvement effort.

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If you’ve ever considered becoming an officer or chairing one of the NCAS committees, the time couldn’t be better. A number of positions within the chapter are being vacated and we’re interested in talking to anyone who might like to join in to fill these positions. Some, but not all of these positions automatically come with the eligibility to become a voting member of the NCAS Board of Directors (BOD).

Officer Nominations

Each year at this time, the NCAS Nominating Committee solicits nominations for the four officer positions: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. These positions are open to all chapter members, so if you would like more information please contact committee members Paul Woodcock, Rae Edwards, or Joe Meche. Their respective phone numbers can be found on page 2.

Membership Chair

Our Membership Chair, Sheila Sondik, would like to free up more time for her printmaking and writing; therefore, she is ready to hand over the responsibilities of updating our membership database and preparing mailing labels for the Avalanche. The Membership Chair is a member of the NCAS Board of Directors. This is a wonderful opportunity for someone with some computer skills to become more involved with our chapter. Sheila will train her replacement, so if you’re interested please give her a call at (360) 306-8284.

Newsletter Editor

After 16 years as Editor of the Avalanche Joe Meche has decided to hang up his editorial cleats and move on to other pursuits. Joe’s last hurrah as editor will be the May 2012 issue. Anyone interested in taking over this position will be trained by Joe for as long as it takes to feel comfortable in the position.

Birding Programs Coordinator

This is a broad and far ranging position within NCAS and was created, in effect, by Joe Meche during his tenure as a member of the BOD.

The responsibilities of this position include: •Two Christmas Bird Counts •NCAS Birdathon fundraiser •NCAS Whatcom County Bird Checklist •NCAS nesting box program

Joe will train one or more individuals to keep these programs going as integral parts of the NCAS chapter operations.

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NCAS Annual Campout
May 18-20

For a change of pace, this year’s weekend campout will shift from the often chilly and wet Clallam County Park at Dungeness to the often warmer and drier Pearrygin Lake State Park. We have reserved the group campsite at the park, which is separate from the main campground area. The site is at the end of a narrow gravel road so tent camping is encouraged. Small RVs are acceptable but the turning radius at the end of the road needs to be considered. Something along the size of a VW camper or a pickup-sized camper should be fine.

For more details or to sign up to join us, please e-mail me at mechejmch@aol.com.

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