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May 2012 Issue (vol 43, number 5)
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(Next issue September 2012)

General Membership Meeting

Tuesday, May 22, 7:00 PM
Fairhaven Public Library, Fireplace Room
PROGRAM: Life and Change in the Alpine Zone of the Pacific Northwest

The wetlands of the North Cascades and Olympic Mountains are inhabited by a wonderful array of amphibians, invertebrates, and birds that live out part or all of their lives in the harsh conditions of the alpine and subalpine zones. These include Cascades frogs, long-toed and northwestern salamanders, western toads, caddis flies, rosy finches, and more. The sensitivity of wetland environments to climate change and the observed changes already underway in our region, raise the question of how wetlands and the species that inhabit them will respond, and how we might help promote diversity amidst these changes.

Maureen Ryan will talk about the natural history of some of the fascinating species that inhabit the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, with a focus on amphibians, and the changes that we might expect to see and perhaps influence in the future. Maureen is a David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellow at the University of Washington and adjunct faculty at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies.

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….

and the Editor

The time has come, the walrus said, to speak of many things: of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, and why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.

I do not think I have anything as profound to report as Lewis Carroll might have had in mind when he wrote Through the Looking Glass in 1871, but I do have news. After five years as your relatively-fearless leader, I will be stepping down to make room for the next hopefully-fearless leader. In the September issue of the Avalanche a new voice will anchor this slot – my time as president of this fine organization has come to an end and someone else will be at the helm. Whether or not the new kid on the block will wish to continue here with a monthly message will be their decision to make.

I would like to take a few minutes of your time to thank each and every one of you who have been so supportive of NCAS while I’ve been on watch. It has been my pleasure to meet with so many of you at chapter meetings and on field trips, as well as at a variety of other functions throughout the community. It has been a time that I will always treasure and, of course, the pay has always been more than generous!

While I am leaving the position of head honcho, I can assure you that I’m not going to disappear. I plan to continue leading field trips, making nesting boxes, etc., and taking on a new role as the Scudder Pond Steward (SPS). As the SPS, I plan to increase awareness and appreciation of this urban gem with a number of projects that currently reside between my ears; one of which is a monthly update on the pond which I will offer to the NEW newsletter editor as a journal of sorts, titled….On Scudder Pond.

Yes, you did read “NEW newsletter editor.” After 16 years of filling these pages, it’s time to turn this over to someone else. This newsletter has been published, in a variety of looks and forms, since 1970, and has been to go-to resource for all things NCAS. It was here long before the Internet and will continue, despite the popularity of reading things online. Personally, I will always prefer to curl up with a good book or newsletter rather than with a laptop.

So there you have it! This part of my NCAS work is over, and I look forward to the luxury of time that I will have to focus on any number of other pursuits. Once again, thank you all and to all a good life!

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NCAS Field Trips

Spring 2012
Paul Woodcock
VP / Field Trip Chair

Resident birds have already started their breeding activity and the migrants are making their way north. Do not let yard work, garden projects, or travel plans 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, May 5. 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: Lynne Givler, with Holly Roger. No Registration Required.

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 from last year and hike the entire length of Whatcom Creek, beginning at the Scudder Pond parking lot 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 trail end 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.

Sunday, May 13. Whatcom Creek Walk.

We will continue our monthly walks along Bellingham’s unique 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. *This is the last creek walk until September16.

Saturday, May 19. Lake Padden and Environs.

Welcome a couple of new field 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 a few surprises. 8 AM. Trip limit: 12. Trip leaders: Clayton and Linda Snider, 738-2232.

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Changes Coming at NCAS

Paul Woodcock

Thank you Joe!

This issue of the Avalanche marks a milestone in the history of NCAS. After 16 years as editor of this newsletter, this is the last issue that Joe Meche will produce. Joe is stepping down, not only from his newsletter duties but also from the chapter presidency after five years of leadership, and from his position of Birding Programs Coordinator after 20 years of coordinating our Bellingham Christmas Bird Count. This is a remarkable record of service to our chapter and I wish to thank Joe profusely on behalf of our board for all the work he has done, all that he has achieved, and all the years he has spent in service to Audubon and our members.

But Joe is not parting from NCAS completely. More than eight years ago, Joe began constructing nesting boxes – first a specialized box for Violet-green swallows, then boxes for tree swallows and other cavity nesting birds; and finally he added Wood Duck boxes to the program. Aided by a grant from the National Audubon Society, NCAS began offering the boxes to community members, for a donation, at community events throughout the year. Nesting boxes have also been donated to schools and camps resulting in hundreds of boxes being installed to expand habitats for cavity nesting birds. Joe will continue to use his woodworking skills to keep this program going and even expand the effort in the years ahead. Additionally, Joe has volunteered to head the chapter’s Scudder Pond Stewardship Program. As the pond is a place that Joe loves to spend his time, all of us at NCAS can rest assured that our little urban wildlife sanctuary will be well cared for and well documented.

Join Us on the Road Ahead

Certainly this chapter will not be the same without Joe at the helm. The NCAS Board of Directors is currently hard at work trying to find the several people that it will take to replace him. As there is currently no one else in the wings, I have decided to jump into the void for a third stint as president. I am hopeful that this time it will be a short-term commitment until we can find the dynamic, energetic leader that we need to move our organization into the future. Please do not misunderstand, I have long been committed to Audubon and I enjoy the work we do. I believe that all of us on the board find our work fulfilling and usually have fun while we are doing it. It is a great experience and we would like to share this Audubon experience with you.

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There are numerous openings on the NCAS Board of Directors. If you have any inclination to help the Audubon cause, from political action to protect the environment to helping organize birding activities, please consider making a commitment to the future of our organization and our community. Please contact any board member if you have questions or are interested in attending a board meeting to see what we are doing first hand. You might want to stay around and get involved.

Our thanks also need to be extended to our members and to all of you who have supported NCAS in any way throughout our 43 year history.

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.

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

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 Joe Meche at mechejmch@aol.com

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