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April 2012 Issue (vol 43, number 4)
      (Previous Issue March 2012) - (Next Issue May 2012)



General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, April 24, 7:00 PM
Bellingham Public Library Lecture Room
PROGRAM:Marine Bird Abundance in the Salish Sea

John Bower, a professor at WWU Fairhaven College since 1998, will discuss the plight of Salish Sea marine birds. His 2009 paper in Marine Ornithology documents changes in marine bird abundance in the Salish Sea, including a 29% decrease in total birds in this area. His talk will address the reasons for these changes as well as concerns specific to Whatcom County, including displacement of the Caspian Tern colony and the role of Cherry Point in bird abundance.

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 will save a seat for you and treats and hot beverages will be available.

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From the President

Spring is officially here and as we near the end of March, we try to remember if it came in like a lion or a lamb. Regardless of how it came in and according to the weatherman, it is trying to go out like a lion with high wind and heavy rain. And weather continues to be a big topic of conversation across the country with record high temperatures everywhere….well, almost everywhere. Up in our little corner, it is still cool and wet, with an occasional teasing day or two of sunshine.

Nevertheless, life does go on, as evidenced by the avian activity around us. American Dippers have feathered two confirmed nests in Whatcom Creek, and the Barred Owl nesting tree in Whatcom Falls Park from last year is once again occupied. The male owl is spending most of its time perched nearby while the female is on the nest, more than likely incubating her eggs. These two species were highlight birds last spring and summer, along with numerous other species in the park and at Scudder Pond.

Signs of human activity are also on the rise, with birding festivals across the state celebrating the arrival of migrants, whether they are just passing through or staying to spend the summer. The large flocks of birds that gather in local waters around Blaine and Semiahmoo always attract many birders to view the spectacle. We are all on alert for the first returning birds that typify the season ahead. Preeminent among these are the swallows. Before long, the neotropicals will brighten our days with their songs and bright colors.

Add to this the fact that the downtown Farmers Market is set to open on the last day of the month. Of course, we know there will be days when we wonder about our sanity as we bend our heads into the wind and rain to pick up a few early carrots or beans. No matter the elements, we Northwesterners must have our fresh veggies, or at least reasonable facsimiles!

We will continue with our busy field trip schedule into June so be sure to check our field trip calendar to see if one or more of the trips interests you. Bird numbers will continue to increase so get out and explore on your own if you can not join us. And do consider joining us on the Eastside for our 5th Annual NCAS Campout.

Lots to do and never enough time to do it all, but we try, do we not? Stay in touch and let us know what you are seeing and what you are doing – we are all about sharing here at NCAS.

Rejoice!

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NCAS Field Trips Spring 2012

Paul Woodcock
VP/Field Trip Chair

Though the weather might not always bear proof, spring is actually here and it is a very busy time for all of us – not just for NCAS members or even just the rest of our human community. Resident birds have already started their breeding activity and the migrants are making their way north. Do not let yard work, garden projects, travel plans, or tax preparation get in the way of the true joys of this season. 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 through the world of spring birding. 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, April 7. 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. This is an ideal trip for beginning birders. 9:00 AM. Meeting Place: Semiahmoo County Park. Trip Leader: Paul Woodcock. No Registration Required.

Sunday, April 15. Whatcom Creek Walk.

We will continue our monthly walks along the unique Bellingham riparian corridor. The route will be the same and it is 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, 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 this 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.

Sunday, April 29. Birds on Bikes.

Join us as we mount our trusty two-wheelers in search of birds. We will meet at the Rotary trailhead on the Old Fairhaven Parkway and pedal down Padden Creek to the heron rookery to check on the progress there, and then stop by Marine Park to check for birds out on the bay. We will then pedal along the shoreline and the waterfront to Little Squalicum Beach where we will take a lunch break. After lunch we will retrace our path back to our starting point. This is not a tough bike ride and we will take it nice and easy with stops for birds and coffee along the way. 10 AM. Trip limit: 10. Trip leader: Joe Meche, 739-5383.

Saturday, May 5. Semiahmoo Spit.

Come and bird the beaches again. Please check the April 7 trip for a full description. Lynne Givler will be leading this trip with Holly Roger.

Saturday, May 5. Point Whitehorn Reserve.

Join John Horner on a return trip to this unique park with its wide range of habitats. This is an excellent place to find resident woodland birds and migrants such as warblers, tanagers, vireos, and flycatchers; scan adjacent fields for raptors; and then descend the bluff to the beach where marine birds can be seen in the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve. 8 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: John Horner, 676-6029.

Sunday, May 6. Whatcom Creek from Top to Bottom.

On this trip, we will duplicate the Mayday Meander of last year and hike the entire length of Whatcom Creek, beginning at the Scudder Pond parking area off Electric Avenue and ending at the Bellingham waterfront on Holly Street. The trail is easy with the possible exception of the 105-step stairway down to Woburn Avenue. We will position vehicles at the end of the trail to shuttle everyone back to the starting point. This is an enjoyable walk along the excellent riparian corridor that runs through the heart of Bellingham. 9 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leader: Joe Meche, 739-5383.

Saturday, May 19. Lake Padden and Environs.

Welcome a couple of new trip leaders for NCAS and experience a half-day outing to one of our familiar and rewarding city parks. Look for waterfowl on the lake and search for migrant and resident passerines on the wooded trails around and above the lake. This area usually produces a few raptors and possibly some surprises. 8 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leaders: Clayton and Linda Snider, 738-2232.

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How Is Our Website?

Ham Hayes
NCAS Webmaster

Our website is beginning to undergo some changes. You may not see some of the changes which are designed to help the editors with their tasks. Later on, we hope to incorporate ideas and recommendations from the NCAS membership that will make our site more exciting and vibrant. 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 April 30, 2012. Your ideas will count in our improvement effort.

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Opportunities

If you havve ever considered becoming an officer or chairing one of the NCAS committees, the time could not be better. A number of positions within the chapter are being vacated and we are 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).

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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.

Birding Programs Coordinator

This is a broad and far ranging position within NCAS and was created, in effect, by Joe Meche during his 16-year 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.

Scudder Pond Needs You

NCAS was granted the ownership of Scudder Pond by the daughter of O. C. Scudder. As it is with anything, along with ownership comes responsibilities. It is our task to care for this 2.5 acre urban preserve and maintain its health as best we can.

Over the years and with the help of numerous volunteers, we have developed a Scudder Pond Stewardship Committee to monitor the pond and keep an eye out for anything that needs our attention. We have installed nesting boxes for birds and for bats and performed comprehensive bird censuses of all the birds that utilize the pond throughout the year.

Volunteers come and go and we are in a situation now where we need a few more interested parties to lend a hand. If you are interested in becoming a Scudder Pond steward, send an e-mail to info@northcascadesaudubon.org.

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NCAS Annual Campout May 18-20

For a change of pace, the 2012 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 Joe Meche at mechejmch@aol.com.

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