Tuesday, September11, 2018 7:00 Social; 7:30 Program Padilla Bay Interpretive Center 10441 Bayview-Edison Road Mt. Vernon, Washington
Join us on a 12 day wilderness birding adventure along the western boundary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Called “America’s Serengeti” for its tremendous biological productivity and diversity, the coastal plain is one of the most intact and untouched ecosystems in America. In addition to over 160 species of birds, the refuge is home to 42 mammal species, including more than 120,000 head of caribou. Thirty-six species of fish also call the refuge home. Many of the birds migrate to and from all fifty states and from six continents to feed and reproduce, taking full advantage of the burst of biological growth which blossoms here in the long days of the Arctic summer. Beginning on the scenic Marsh Fork we descend through the rugged mountains of the Brooks Range, northeast to the confluence with the main stem of the Canning River. Wildlife photographer Dan Streiffert lets you experience this trip through his camera with photos of the journey. Our guide, “Burly” Bob Dittrick (www.wildernessbirding.com) has led trips for President Jimmy Carter and photographer Art Wolfe. Dan Streiffert is a retired Power Systems Engineer who now spends his time photographing wildlife and volunteering with both the Sierra Club and Audubon. He grew up in Rochester, NY and his dad worked for Eastman Kodak. https://danstreiffert.smugmug.com.
Conservation Report, September 2018
By Tim Manns
Puget Sound Seabird Survey:One of the great joys of living here is seeing and hearing the annual Fall return of seabirds, waterfowl, and raptors to winter on and around the Salish Sea. Since the 1970’s various surveys have been done to establish a baseline estimate of seabird populations here and to detect trends. Volunteers have long been key to gathering this information, and now those of us living in or near Skagit County have an opportunity to get involved. Look elsewhere in this newsletter for how you can participate in the Puget Sound Seabird Survey (www.seabirdsurvey.org), which is expanding north to the border. Act now and sign up for training scheduled for later in September. At ten sites along the shores of Skagit County volunteers will count seabirds in fall and winter beginning October 6th. There’s a role for everyone, no matter their level of birding expertise.
Protecting the Marbled Murrelet: The Puget Sound Seabird Survey, underway south of Skagit County for some years, has documented increases in certain seabird populations and decreases in others. One species in precipitous decline is the Marbled Murrelet, the only seabird in Washington listed as threatened on the federal list of endangered species. The murrelet connects the marine waters of the Salish Sea with the remaining ancient forests from the coast up to 50 miles inland. It lays its one egg in thick moss on a high branch of an old growth tree. Loss of nesting habitat is the single most important factor in the murrelet’s continued decline. Water quality and diminished populations of the small fish which murrelets eat are among its other problems.
Our state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages much of the best remaining nesting habitat for the Marbled Murrelet. DNR faces the challenge of protecting the murrelet while also meeting its obligation to produce public revenue by selling timber. For years DNR has been working on a required long-term management plan to properly balance these requirements. Last year, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz established a well-balanced committee of stakeholders to come up with positive solutions (https://www.dnr.wa.gov/SolutionsTable). Audubon is part of a coalition of conservation groups focused on ensuring that the outcome of DNR’s planning is a science-based solution that will stem the bird’s decline and also address the impact on timber-dependent communities. Skagit Audubon has participated in every public comment opportunity during the development of the long-term management plan and will do so again this fall. DNR received many comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the plan. The agency will release a revised draft for public comment on September 4th. While you’re thinking about possible comments, remind yourself what this is all about by visiting Green Point in Washington Park and watching the Marbled Murrelets often feeding offshore. Imagine their flight inland to a huge branch high in an ancient Douglas-fir to feed their lone waiting chick.
The Guemes Channel Trail and Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve: In an ever more developed Anacortes, Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve (SHIP) is a refuge for birds and other wildlife and for people too. The city’s plans to extend the Guemes Channel Trail, a wide, paved bicycle and walking path, right through the length of the preserve’s wetland buffer has the potential to significantly degrade the quality of this habitat. Careful planning sometimes finds a way to preserve the ecological functions which wetland buffers are meant to provide and still allow some development, but this should not be assumed. The notion that we can have it all - - in this instance, a richly diverse biological preserve and a non-motorized transportation corridor - - is too often wishful thinking. Rather than plunging ahead without adequate study, review, and planning, the city should proceed with care and professionalism and not assume the trail must go through the buffer come what may. Skagit Audubon is allied with other groups in calling for a more considered approach to the Guemes Channel Trail project at SHIP and along its entire route. Rather than being granted a Categorical Exclusion from environmental review, this project should go through an Environmental Assessment, including consideration of alternate routes for the path. If you live in Anacortes, please ask your city councilmember and mayor to support this careful approach.
For more issues, go to the conservation section of the Skagit Audubon website.
Leave the leaves and fall garden clean-up by Mary Sinker
Provide valuable winter habitat for wildlife, including birds, bees and insects.
Native bees need a place to spend the winter and for these important pollinators, a winter home can be as cozy as being tucked inside the hollow stem of a bee balm plant. The eggs and larvae of bees also overwinter in burrows in the ground and if we cut everything down and remove every last leaf, we are not helping these important pollinators.
Insect eating birds like towhees, sparrows, chickadees, wrens, juncos and nuthatches are always welcome in the garden because they consume large quantities of caterpillars and other pesty insects when they are raising their young in the spring and summer months. By leaving the leaves and winter garden intact, they can feed off the hibernating insects in leaf litter and on tree and plant stems.
Many butterfly species overwinter as adults nestled into tree bark or in leaf litter awaiting the longer days and warmth of spring. Butterflies that overwinter in a chrysalis include swallowtails and cabbage whites. These chrysalises hang from dead plant stems or are tucked into the soil or leaf litter. Declining butterfly populations are one of the best reasons not to clean up the garden in the fall.
Native ladybugs spend the winter outside and begin to enter hibernation soon after the temperature begins to drop. Piles of leaves are one of the places they congregate and you will be helping these important pest eaters get a jump start in the spring.
Instead of doing a big fall clean-up, as much as your sense of neatness will allow, try waiting until April. By then, the longer days and warming temperatures mean these little critters are waking up from their long winter nap.
The Education Committee needs volunteers to help with a number of adult presentations coming up in the next several months. These Power Point presentations are scheduled at libraries and private organizations/clubs in the area. If you can help give part of a presentation (already written), that would be great; or, you can assist with the computer and help answer questions from the audience. If you can lend a hand, please contact Sheila at firstname.lastname@example.org
Puget Sound Seabird Survey by Toby Ross, Science Manager, Seattle Audubon Society
Are seabirds in the southern Salish Sea increasing or decreasing in numbers? Which species are changing their range? Help us find out. The Puget Sound Seabird Survey (PSSS) is a community and citizen science project managed by Seattle Audubon that empowers volunteer birdwatchers to gather valuable data on wintering seabird populations across the southern Salish Sea.
This season we will be expanding the project north to the Canadian border and the San Juan Islands. We received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program through the Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife to add 15-30 new survey sites, develop an oil spill plan and train volunteers on how to react to a spill. In cooperation with Skagit Audubon Society, we’ve identified 10 potential survey sites on Fidalgo Is., Guemes Is., and north along the coast to Clayton Beach.
You can contribute to this vital seabird science by helping us with surveying these new sites on this exciting project. Training on survey methodology and what we’d like you to do in the event of an oil spill will be provided at Deception Pass State Park on Friday, Sep 21st 5:30pm-7:30pm. Volunteers should ideally be able to identify Puget Sound’s seabird species and be available on the first Saturday of each month, October through April, to conduct a 30-minute survey. But, if determining between Lesser and Greater Scaup is a challenge, we’ll team you up with more knowledgeable surveyors. To help us determine each volunteer’s seabird identification skills, visit www.seabirdsurvey.org to take our quick, fun Seabird ID quiz.
For other training locations and dates or to learn more, please visit www.seabirdsurvey.org and email Toby Ross, Senior Science Manager email@example.com if you would like more information or to take part. White
Skagit Audubon Society holds monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month except for the months of July and August. We meet at 7:00 pm at Padilla Bay Interpretive Center(Google map), 10441 Bayview-Edison Rd. Mount Vernon. Meetings are open to all.
The board of directors meets at the same location at 7:00 pm on the first Tuesday of each month, except for the months of July and August.