Darrel Whipple will lead a bird walk next Sunday, Feb. 26, at the proposed methanol plant site at the north end of the Port of Kalama industrial area in conjunction with Columbia Riverkeeper. Depending on how many show up, folks may divide into two or three groups of 10-15. Everyone is invited from experienced to beginning birders.
This winter there have been 3 Great Egrets around the Long Beach Peninsula in Pacific County - probably coming from the rookery in Kalama, WA.
This species is a recent addition to Pacific County. As the cold winter began freezing all the lake the egrets found one shallow river with surrounding wetland to feed in. Then the high tides arrived making that area to deep to feed.
These photos were taken in a road side ditch where the county had recently cut back the cattails opening the water for them to feed in. They were feasting on the tiny Stickleback fish.
Twenty-two Trumpeter Swans were counted during the Leadbetter CBC (Pacific County WA, the Long Beach Peninsula) in December - a higher number than recent years.
They have been very visible this year on many of the freshwater lakes making for wonder photographic opportunities. There are five signets in that number and the parents have been showing them all the good feeding locations.
In the 17 years Suzy Whittey has lived on one of those small lakes the swans have been on the lake on a hand full of occasions. This winter they have been coming to the lake every few days and even coming out of the water in her yard to relax.
Our public lands in Washington state - the ones that belong to all of us - are under attack. On Tuesday, February 14, your legislators will be voting on a bill that will make it impossible for state agencies to protect existing and acquire new public lands. HB 1008 will force the state to sell off our existing public lands before we can acquire any new public lands. At a time when our population growth is bursting at the seams and preservation of green space and wild space is more important than ever, this is just plain short-sighted
As someone who cares about birds and other wildlife, you know that our public lands are home to hundreds of bird species and a wide variety of wildlife, some of which already face huge threats from development, climate change, and other human impacts. In many cases, state public lands provide critical breeding habitat for species fighting for survival such as the Snowy Plover, Streaked horned Lark, and the Marbled Murrelet.
At a time when healthy habitat is dwindling, we should be focused on protecting public lands, not selling them off or creating new barriers.
Our year got off to its traditional New Year's Day jump start with the Christmas Bird Count. During the rest of January we've added numerous species that typically are not found within the count circle as well as a number of species that are less than annual in Cowlitz County.
The most unlikely find was a Turkey Vulture that was found at Willow Grove in early January. While this species will be ubiquitous in a couple months, mid-winter is an not the time we usually find them. Although it seems every year one or more are found trying to over winter in Washington, they typically have perished by January.
Besides the one in Cowlitz a few have been found in the Puget Sound area as well as farther downstream on the Columbia River into January this year, including a few still around after our recent rare long snow and freezing episode. Amazing!
Just 80 miles west of Longview/Rainier one can discover new opportunities for observing wild life beyond our customary species. We moved from Longview to Gearhart, Oregon in April 2016, and now are coastal residents of nearly a year. Living and exploring the coastal forests and prairies, the dunes and beaches has offered some delightful experiences.
One of our more interesting sightings happened last summer, when we began seeing large black fins circling just beyond the breakers off Gearhart Beach. Amongst these were repeated whale spouts. We identified 3 whales and at least 5 Orcas. Several local naturalists offered the explanation that this rogue Orca pod (often seen at the mouth of the Columbia) was trying to separate a mother gray whale from her calf. The mother was successful in staying between her calf and the predators as two whales were seen a few miles north within an hour of our sighting. It is hard to know who to root for during these natural world battles.
John takes a daily beach walk and it is always interesting. We have seen 6 eagles at one time, “celebrating” a comrade’s successful catch of a small sea perch, too small to share. Another day, one was clinging to a crab and puzzling over its best approach for consuming. The eagles are plentiful this winter and John sees them daily. We hope to find successful nests over the next couple months for observation.
One of the most exciting finds has been a group of 5 Snowy Plovers that have been present almost daily for nearly two months. This is a rare and endangered shore bird for which there are recovery plans/actions happening at Leadbetter Point on the Long Beach Penninsula.
UPDATE: A previous version of this article had the wrong date for the public meeting, the correct date is January 19th!
This endangered seabird feeds in the ocean and flies up to 55 miles inland to nest in old growth forest. The Washington state population of this unique bird has shrunk by 44% over the last 15 years, leaving only about 7,500 birds remaining.
Now your input is needed to protect the Marbled Murrelet!
Extinction of the bird in our state would lead to a gap and genetic bottleneck between the southern populations in Oregon and N. California and the northern populations in British Columbia and Alaska. These populations are also under threat – for example, Marbled Murrelet in Alaska have declined 70% since the 1990’s.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is proposing the Long-term Conservation Strategy, a plan for the next 50 years. But all their proposed alternatives will lead to the extinction of the Marbled Murrelet!
Attend the public information meeting on January 19, 201 7, in Cathlamet, WA.
6:00—8:00 p.m., Julius A. Wendt Elementary School, Multipurpose Room, 265 S. 3rd St.
Of the four meetings, this one is in our part of SW Washington. There will be no oral public comments, but your attendance will show that the public is concerned about the extinction of this species. Timber interests will be out in force, so attendance of every person who cares about Marbled Murrelet will be important!
DNR staff will describe the Marbled Murrelet plan for .5 hour and the Sustainable Harvest Calculation for .5 hour, and then there will be 1.0 hour for the public to ask questions of DNR staff at information tables. Your questions of DNR staff will be noted. You can also fill out a comments postcard – remember you can comment as many times as you like before the deadline.
Comment on the Long Term Conservation Strategy by March 9, 2017.
On January 3, 2017, Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Peter Goldmark denied Millennium Bulk Terminal’s Ltd.’s for lease of public aquatic land that would be part of the proposed coal export terminal in Longview, Washington. It is highly unlikely that Millennium can proceed without this permit.
This is a victory for the Tribes, Washington’s Audubon chapters, other environmental organizations, and thousands of people who staunchly opposed this project for six years. Thank you to all who wrote comments, signed petitions, rallied, marched, wrote letters, gave public testimony, and lobbied our elected representatives. Your voices were heard.
At the same time, Commissioner Goldmark expanded Puget Sound’s Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve north of Bellingham, adding 45 acres previously considered for a large coal export terminal.
The Great Backyard Bird Count is scheduled for Feb 17-20, 2017. This is citizen science at its best. You can view and report birds wherever you are during this weekend. Last year over 5000 people participated around the world and reported over 18 million individual birds.