Tuesday, February 14 ,2017 7:00 Social; 7:30 Program Padilla Bay Interpretive Center 10441 Bayview-Edison Road
Melanie Driscoll is Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon's Gulf Coast and Mississippi Flyway regions. When the Deepwater Horizon well blew, Melanie played a pivotal role in Audubon's response to the Gulf disaster. She initiated wildlife survey and rescue efforts. She provided biological interpretation and served as an informed interface between the relief effort and other Audubon staff, the news media, the public, and the larger environmental community.
And Melanie adds, "As for people, the Deepwater disaster impacted Native Americans, Creole and Cajun folk the most." Her talk will focus on what happened, oil spill prevention and the particular risks facing Native Americans living by the Salish Sea.
President's Message, February 2017
By Irene Perry
Find your favorite winter weather gear and grab your binoculars for some of the best birding of the year in Skagit County. February is a great time to see our feathered friends flocking to the flats. But let’s not forget the loons, grebes and sea ducks visiting our shorelines too.
Some of the best birding can be found on the Samish and Skagit Flats. For raptors, spend your day visiting Samish between Padilla Bay and Alice Bay. Drive near the open fields and look for Northern Harriers flying low hunting. High in the trees there are Bald Eagles pairing up as they start courtship and nesting. American Kestrel, the smallest of five falcons found on the flats, is plentiful this winter and easily viewed. A winter favorite is the Rough-legged Hawk, which is sure to be found in the trees near the West 90 parking area. For the awe inspiring spectacle of thousands of snow geese and hundreds of beautiful swans, head over to the Skagit Flats. One of the best locations to view these birds is the Fir Island Farms Reserve. Snow Geese and Swans can be seen in Skagit Bay and in the surrounding fields. Hunting on the Samish and Skagit Flats ends January 30.
Take a day in February to visit a Skagit shoreline. Red-throated Loons are plentiful near Deception Pass. Plan a visit during ebb tide to view their feeding behavior. Near Green Point in Washington Park, look for Red-necked and Horned Grebes. This is a good location to look for Long-tailed Ducks too. For Brant, head over to Samish Island to the Beach Access where they are commonly seen along with a variety of seabirds to add to your list. Find directions to these locations and other birding sights under Birding on our website skagitaudubon.org.
February is also the time for bird festivals. Two local festivals where you can find Skagit Audubon volunteers are the Arlington Eagle Festival, 2/4 and the Port Susan Snow Goose and Birding Festival, 2/25-26. In addition, there is a Samish Flats field trip scheduled for 2/18. Look for more information under Activities on our website.
There are so many birds to see in February. Take a moment to enjoy the beautiful snow-capped mountains that provide a pristine back-drop. Join us for one of the above activities or get out on your own to take in the views of Skagit.
Conservation Report, February 2017
By Tim Manns
Washington State’s legislative session is well underway in Olympia and will continue at least through April 23. For an overview of prospects for the session and a summary of the Environmental Priorities Coalition’s focal issues, see the January newsletter’s Conservation Report (http://skagitaudubon.org/newsletter). Audubon participates in this coalition of 20 environmental groups. Sign up for the coalition’s weekly update on proposed state legislation related to the environment at https://wecprotects.org/environmental-priorities-coalition/.
Audubon Washington has other issues on which its staff and many of Washington’s 25
Audubon chapters will also focus this session:
Continued funding of forage fish spawning surveys (which relates to the importance of forage fish, such as herring, sand lance, and smelt to seabirds and other marine creatures)
Promoting a sustainable, local renewable energy industry (specifically solar energy)
Enacting a price on carbon pollution
We were hopeful that Representative Kristine Lytton (D – 40th) would introduce a bill to close a loophole in the Forest Practices Act that brushes aside cities’ required critical areas ordinances to allow logging that degrades and destroys wetlands. The present session is so occupied with meeting education, mental health, and other very compelling needs that legislators lack time for dealing with arguably smaller matters. We’ll pursue the possibility of an administrative solution through the Department of Natural Resources, which administers the Forest Practices Act. Conservationists have high hopes for new Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.
Showing up at your legislators’ offices in Olympia makes an impact. As busy as they are, most legislators will take time to listen to constituents. Audubon Washington is making it easy to show up by planning an Advocacy Day. Besides providing good advice on talking with your elected officials on the issues mentioned above, Audubon will make the meeting appointments for you. Please register now for Audubon Advocacy Day (February 21). (http://wa.audubon.org/events/audubon-advocacy-day-2017). Please sign up too for legislative alerts and updates with Audubon Washington:
Right now there are several lengthy Draft Environmental Impact Statements open for comment on matters relevant to the Audubon mission. Through March 9 you can comment on the long-awaited EIS addressing the Department of Natural Resources’ management of state trust lands for the threatened Marbled Murrelet. The draft EIS is at http://www.dnr.wa.gov/marbledmurrelet. Seattle Audubon’s website (http://www.seattleaudubon.org/sas/) explains how to comment and suggests what you might say.
The grizzly bear was federally listed as a threatened species 42 years ago. The Greater North Cascades is one of 6 ecosystems long designated as recovery zones for the bear. The goal, in accord with the Endangered Species Act, is to restore a small but self-sustaining population of grizzlies to the North Cascades to help this once very widespread animal survive. The National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have issued a draft EIS for restoring the bear to the North Cascades over a period of many years. The comment period ends March 14, 2017. For information, go to https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=44144.
The comment period for the EIS on adding more Growlers to those based at Whidbey Naval Air Station has been extended to Feb. 24. See http://www.whidbeyeis.com/. The jet noise can be a problem for humans and has potential effects on Marbled Murrelets, Spotted Owls, and other wildlife, particularly on the Olympic Peninsula where the Navy would do electronic warfare training.
These are interesting times with no lack of opportunities to get involved.
Port Susan Snow Goose & Birding Festival
The next Great Backyard Bird Count is February 17-20
We invited you to participate for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count!
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.