“Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound” Presented by: David B. Williams
Tuesday, October 12, 7:00 PM
Please join Skagit Audubon Society on Oct. 12th at 7pm for a presentation by David B. Williams, who will speak about his recently published book, Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of Puget Sound.
This book tells the story of the Sound, tracing human history from the earliest records more than 12,500 years ago to present. Along the way, Williams discusses Native people, the arrival of explorers and settlers, and how the various inhabitants adapted to place. He weaves in stories of the natural world, covering often overlooked species such as Olympia oysters, rockfish, geoduck, kelp, and herring, as well as the influence of salmon and orca on the Sound.
David B. Williams is an author, naturalist, and tour guide. He is also the author of the book Too High and Too Steep: Reshaping Seattle’s Topography, as well as Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City and Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology. Williams is a Curatorial Associate at the Burke Museum. Follow him on Twitter @geologywriter.
Preregistration is required and is limited to 100 attendees. Please only one registrant per household. After you register you will receive an email with the link to sign in at the time of the event. Questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A recording of September’s fascinating presentation about hummingbirds “To Feed or Fight” by Alejandro Rico-Guevara is now available at the following link: https://youtu.be/LMlr7AyQTXs
Conservation Report - October 2021
By Tim Manns
Fully Contained Communities: Last month’s Conservation Report focused on the very real possibility Skagit County Commissioners will reverse past decisions and allow so-called Fully Contained Communities (FCCs). These urban-density, multi-thousand home developments would be built on agricultural or forest lands or in other areas outside the established towns and cities and their adjacent designated urban growth areas. Allowing FCC’s would upend years of effort to maintain viable agriculture, working forests, and wildlife habitat in Skagit County. The effects on Trumpeter and Tundra Swans, on the diverse raptors that winter here, and on many other species would be devastating. Unless the Commissioners completely ignore the established approach to changing planning policies, city council members and mayors will also have a say in the decision about FCCs. Planning policies apply throughout the county. So, even if you live in an incorporated part of Skagit County, you pay county taxes, and your local elected representatives have a say about FCC’s. Are they hearing from you? To get up to speed on this important issue and learn what you can do, follow the links in last month’s Report (https://www.skagitonians.org/fight-fccs, https://skagitscoop.org/blog/fully-contained-communities-and-why-we-should-be-worried-about-them/) and this new one from the Right Growth Right Place coalition formed to block FCCs (https://www.rightgrowthrightplace.org).
Shoreline Master Program: Skagit County’s Planning Department and the appointed Planning Commission have devoted much time this year to the long-overdue comprehensive revision of the Shoreline Master Program (SMP). This plan governs development along marine and freshwater shorelines outside incorporated towns and cities (which have their own SMPs). While prepared by the county, the plan must meet the approval of the state’s Department of Ecology in compliance with the Shoreline Management Act. Skagit County has an unfortunate history of resisting state mandates for land use planning. While Skagit Audubon welcomes the fact that the county is finally revising its SMP, there is a glaring omission. National Audubon and other avian conservation organizations have documented anthropogenic climate change as the most significant threat to birds. One effect of climate change with significant implications for bird habitat as well as people is sea level rise. In commenting on the county’s draft SMP revision, Skagit Audubon joined many other groups and individuals in asking that planning for inevitable sea level rise be part of the SMP. On the Planning Department’s website, you can read the response stating simply that the Shoreline Management Act and Department of Ecology don’t require addressing sea level rise in SMPs, and therefore Skagit County is not bothering
(https://www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/PlanningAndPermit/SMPmain.htm), despite the very serious effects it will have on people, roads, buildings, farms, etc. - - and despite the fact that the Department of Ecology has grants for counties to plan for this inevitability. We appreciate that updating the SMP is a huge amount of work. To wait decades and then do less than even the obvious minimum is more than unfortunate.
Migratory Bird Protection Act: For a century following its 1918 passage, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was the most important legal protection for birds in North America. The previous presidential administration suddenly weakened implementation of the act to only defend birds against deliberate harm, eliminating any incentive for industry to follow best practices to protect birds. The new administration has begun the rule-making process to reverse that change, but there is also the possibility of legislation to modernize bird protection and elevate it from regulation to law. On July 21st, “Congressman Alan Lowenthal and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick reintroduced the bipartisan Migratory Bird Protection Act, legislation that would permanently codify important and much-needed protections for millions of migratory birds. The legislation would provide regulatory certainty for industries and help ensure that we meet the conservation goals of the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) which forms the backbone of our nation’s migratory bird conservation efforts.” To read about the importance of the MBTA and this potential new law, search: National Audubon, Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Photo credit: American Avocet by Susan Hodgson, Audubon Photography Awards.
For information on other issues Skagit Audubon is tracking go to “Conservation Notes” under the “Conservation” tab on the chapter’s website (www.skagitaudubon.org).
Padilla Bay Christmas Bird Count 2021
This year is the 122nd for the Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the National Audubon Society and the nation’s longest-running community science bird project. Each year between December 14 and January 5, volunteers across the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands count bird species and individuals in almost 2,500 count areas. Each area is a 15-mile diameter circle. Skagit Audubon’s role in this large effort is organizing the Padilla Bay Christmas Bird Count, named for the location of the count circle’s center on the March Point peninsula by Padilla Bay.
The 2021 Padilla Bay Christmas Bird Count will take place Sunday, December 26th. The count usually happens the last Saturday of the year, but this year that day is Christmas. Flexibility for moving the date is limited because some of the same volunteers are needed for other counts in the area whose traditional dates are ones we need to avoid overlapping. For information about participating in this all-day, rain or shine, survey birders should contact Tim Manns (email@example.com or 360/333-8985). The count will be conducted following Covid-19 protocols, i.e., vaccinations required, sharing rides only with members of your own household, masks worn when sufficient distance isn’t possible. Photo credit: American Robin by Mary Sinker
Winter Raptor Survey Project
The 18th winter of survey work is about to begin for the East Cascades Audubon Society’s Winter Raptor Survey Project. The project has been expanded into the northwest corner of WA for the first time this winter and this message will serve to advertise available survey routes that we hope to fill with members of your Audubon Chapter. Last winter, the project ended the survey season with 452 active routes covering nearly 27,000 miles of transects throughout WA, OR, ID and small parts of UT and CA. Over 350 citizen science volunteers commit their once a month survey services during December, January and February with optional surveys also available for November and March. Survey dates are left up to each volunteer each month based on their own life schedules and weather conditions. A pair of binoculars are needed, spotting scopes are encouraged if you have one. A good grasp of raptor ID is requested and all surveyors should feel comfortable with driving in winter conditions, safety is the number one priority in this project. If this winter activity appeals to you, consider taking one of the three available routes based out of Sedro Woolley and join this very active project. Those who do should contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org to secure their preferred route, they will be filled on a first come first served basis. If you are assigned a route, I will provide more information that will prepare you for the work this winter. I hope to hear from you soon, thank you!
Jeff Fleischer Project Coordinator Winter Raptor Survey Project East Cascades Audubon Society - Bend, OR. (project sponsor)
FROM YOUR EDITOR - October 21, by Mary Sinker
Lazy fall gardening last year paid off with an unexpected discovery this past spring. While working from home, I noticed a female Anna’s hummingbird taking what appeared to be little bits of white cotton down from the stalks of Japanese Anemones (windflowers) that I had left standing over the winter. Upon closer examination, this hardy perennial (native to China and grown in Japan for hundreds of years), produces small clumps of downy material from the old flower heads.
Filling the void between late summer and well into fall, Japanese Anemones bloom for 6-8 weeks and their tall, graceful stems sporting flowers in white, purple, or pink, are an important late season food source for butterflies. Deer and rabbits avoid them, and they are tolerant of acid, alkaline and neutral soils and can be grown in clay, loam, sandy or chalky conditions. Full sun, partial sun, average water needs, and low maintenance once established make them perfect additions to any garden space. Be a lazy fall gardener like me and leave them standing over the winter – the hummingbirds will thank you in the spring! Photo credit: Japanese Anemones in the garden by Mary Sinker.
THE BIG SIT – by Denny Quirk
The Big Sit is a free community birding event open to individuals and teams, all over the world. This year The Big Sit begins Saturday October 9 at 12:01 am and closes Sunday October 10 at 11:59 pm. The goal is to identify as many species as possible in 24 hours, from a circle no more than 17’ in diameter. Sitting not required.
The Big Sit is Covid-friendly. Anyone can participate from wherever they want - backyard, park, public wildlife area, etc. Participate by yourself, or as a team with family and friends. Covid-19 common sense dictates social distancing and face coverings as appropriate.
Skagit Audubon Society is fielding a Big Sit team Saturday October 9 at Wiley Slough (Skagit Wildlife Area - Headquarters Unit - 21961 Wylie Rd, Mount Vernon). The circle will be located at the junction of the West Dike Trail and Spur Dike Trail - a short walk from the parking lot (w/restrooms) closest to the headquarters buildings. One-to-two-hour shifts are being scheduled 7:30 am to 5:30 pm with the goal of staffing the circle continuously during this period. We ask that Skagit Audubon Society team participants be vaccinated. Social distancing limits the number of team participants to four in the circle at any time. This event is for birders of all experience levels. We will pair those new to birding with more experienced team members. Anyone is welcome to just come by and visit, especially if you bring Covid-friendly snacks or refreshments to share! Vehicles parked at this location must display a current Discover Pass, or Vehicle Access Pass.
Some members have pledged $1 per species seen by the team at Wiley Slough to the Skagit Audubon Society Environmental Conservation Scholarship. Please consider a similar pledge to support this annual award.
Visit thebigsit.org to learn more about the Big Sit. Email email@example.com if you would like to join the Wiley Slough team, conduct your own count (so we can track participation and your species list), or wish to make a pledge. There might be some Skagit Audubon swag for the individual count circle that sees the most total species or sees the “secret” species. Photo credit: Cedar Waxwing at Wiley Slough, by Mary Sinker.
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
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.