ANNOUNCING FEB 22, 2018, 6:45 PM, UPlace Library: STUMP THE EXPERTS

YOU’RE INVITED!

STUMP THE EXPERTS!  WHO’S AN ADVANCED BIRDER?

Feb 22, 2018, 6:45 PM, UPlace Library: Join Ken Brown as we try to figure out some unusual bird photodocumentation. Some of the slides truly need someone to identify them, some Ken knows but is wondering whether WE know, and some are just tricks from “bad” photos.

Trying to ID birds in the fog

Ken says, “The time has come for the battle of the ages.  We will divide into teams and have some fun putting our bird identification skills to the test.  I will attempt to find some easy-to-hard bird slides in order to stump you. I have not come up with an idea to fuel the competition, so suggestions are welcome.  This should be a hoot.  WOS  calls it ‘Stump the Experts,’, but obviously we won’t go there.”

The real meaning is to try to zero in on field marks you might not ordinarily notice because you use the easier ones, which might be missing in these photos and also in the field.

Ken Brown showing leadership skills

Are there prizes? Ask Ken.

January 17, 2018 – ABC CELEBRATES!

BIG YEAR PARTY!

Refreshment table on left with Peter talking on right.

Click photos to enlarge.

ABC held our Big Yearly party on Jan 17th, and we had goodies galore, photos galore, and some very interesting Big Year reports. Those presenting were Blair Bernson, Brian Pendleton, Mike Charest, Heather Voboril, Ken Brown, Will Brooks, Peter Wimberger, Bruce LaBar, Brian Hanson, and Ed Pullen. Will Brooks was touted as the guy to beat in 2018, and it was great to see a young birder step up to the competition.

Some of the crowd

Blair Bernson reports his big year (while Chazz knits!)

Brian Pendleton gives his report while Mike Charest (L) looks on and Ryan Wiese handles the photos

Mike’s fond slide of the Brownsville dump

Many of us submitted our 5 best (or favorite) photos from 2017, including some who were unable to attend. Oohs, aahs, guffahs, and applause accompanied these. We were well entertained! It was noted that at least four people submitted photos of the Gyr at JBLM that was found by our own Donna La Casse!

Heather Voboril with one of her super slides

Reports by Bruce LaBar, Will Brooks, and Ed Pullen

Peter Wimberger gives his Big Year report

Happy birders

Refreshments were catered by Karen Gillis and Vera Cragin, and they were ample and delicious! Thanks! The Pullens are downsizing, and they found good homes for many of their bird books at a great price to us (free!).

ABA Bird of the Year shirts worn by Diane, Faye, Art, Laurel

What a fun way to spend a rainy evening! Let’s do it again next year!

NEW ZEALAND AND KIWIS WITH MALCOLM WILEY – MARCH 21, 2018

NEW ZEALAND AND KIWIS WITH MALCOLM WILEY – MARCH 21, 2018
Join us on March 21, 2018, 6:45 PM, University Place Library, to hear about New Zealand, especially Kiwis!

Handful of Kiwi

Malcolm Wiley will give a brief description of the conservation efforts for endangered birds undertaken by the Department of Conservation – with a focus on kiwi. He knows our own Laurel Parshall, who helped arrange this.

Kiwi monitoring

Malcolm spent 12 years working as a biodiversity ranger for the New Zealand Department of Conservation. He tells us, “Five of those years I was project manager for a project monitoring the survival and breeding success of a population of Great Spotted Kiwi in a mountain valley in the South Island of New Zealand. I’ve also assisted briefly with kakapo, fernbird, mohua (yellowhead), yellow eyed penguin, albatross, petrel, robin, and blue duck work. The rest of my time with DOC was running invasive species control projects including a couple of island rat eradication projects trying to create safe havens for bird species. I actually studied plant ecology at college, but in New Zealand most conservation work is focused on bird species so the opportunity came along to lead a kiwi project.”

Holding albatross, Enderby, Feb 03

Malcolm is back in the northwest now. “Now I actually work for Seattle Public Utilities in the Wastewater section, and I’m still not sure how I ended up in that line of work.”

2017 Annual Skagit Trip

A tiny part of large flock of near in Snow geese, not the one “blue goose”.

Sunday Dec 3 Ken Brown organized and led the annual Skagit and Samish Flat’s birding trip. This year so many ABC’ers wanted to come that he spit the trip into two groups to avoid a long caravan in traffic on the flats. The first group met Ken at the Smoky Point Rest Stop at 7:30, and the second group met shortly after about 8 AM and Ed Pullen along with lots of other strong birders headed out to follow Ken’s route.

First we got off on the first exit north of the rest area, Exit 208, and went left through Silvana and then left onto Norman Rd. Shortly after getting onto Norman Road at a house with several feeders a nice variety of feeder birds were seen, including a White-throated sparrow by just a few of us when it showed very briefly. A Sharp-shinned hawk was fanning its tail to dry in a nearby tree, and a merlin perched on a distant tree top. Further down Norman Rd was our second falcon of the day, an American kestrel, as well as several groups of Trumpeter swans and lots of fly-over Snow geese.

Prairie Falcon on Boe Rd

Where Norman Rd intersects Marine Drive, we went directly across to Boe Road where we had great looks at a Prairie falcon, first located by Bruce Labar, as well as American Kestrel and Merlin, bringing Ken’s group to 4 falcons (Ed’s would get Peregrine later, but Ken’s group had one in travel), as well as American Pipits, both common buteos Red-tailed and Rough-legged hawks, a Cooper’s hawk Ken located tucked in a distant tree, lots of Bald eagles, Western meadowlarks, as well as more and larger flocks of Snow geese overhead.

Subsequent stops at Thomie and Edie Roads yielded more of the same, and in Ed’s group the Willet’s (back care as always) brought us back to see a Northern Shrike.

Northern Shrike in the thorny brambles

From here we headed north to Skagit County, traveling on back roads up to Fir Island. At Wylie Slough we found 6 Greater yellowlegs, Ed saw 12 Black-bellied plover fly by, and we sorted through large flocks of Pine siskins hoping for a Common redpoll, and though Ken found one brief look at a likely possibility, none of us could pull a redpoll out of the hyperactive flocks of 250+ siskins.

Our group at Wylie Slough

At Hayton Reserve we were treated to an estimated 8-10,000 Dunlin in a huge flock on the high-tide remaining mudflats. Two peregrines put on a show dueling for apparent territorial rights to the flock, while the Dunlin dazzled with evasive flocking behavior. A good variety of ducks, a Harlan’s Red-tailed hawk, 12 Greater yellowlegs and about 50 Long-billed dowitchers added to our day list.

It was getting late so we skipped the rest of the dike access areas on Fir Island, and headed for the Samish Flats. A potty stop at Bayview State Park added remarkably little action on the water, with Horned grebe, Common and Barrow’s goldeneyes, and a DC Cormorant the only new species.

The Samish Flats, with most of our time spent at the West 90, yielded more sunshine, a flock of an estimated 20,000 Snow geese with at least one nicely seen ‘blue goose”, more peregrines, kestrels, a single short eared owl flew in the distance as dusk approached but probably the most unusual bird of the day was a single Long-billed curlew in a large flock of Ring-billed gulls fairly close in on one of the muddy rivulets.
Overall a nice day was had by all, and Ed’s group totaled 82 species for the trip. (Ken can make a comment re his groups totals.)

Long-billed curlew at Hayton Reserve

ABC announces Hood Canal cruise for March 3, 2018

WHEN: Saturday March 3 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.

Field Trip:  Hood Canal aboard the Lady Alderbrook

Leaders:  Tahoma Audubon’s Bruce LaBar and Cara Borre, both accomplished spotters for Westport Pelagics

Lady Alderbrook cruising Hood Canal

The Lady Alderbrook cruising Hood Canal

The success of Black Hills Audubon’s Lady Alderbrook birding cruises spread, and this time ABC Club and Tahoma Audubon will partner with them to offer a birding cruise aboard the Lady Alderbrook. We will board the Lady Alderbrook at the Alderbrook Resort at noon and seek birds upon and above the waters of Hood Canal. The Lady Alderbrook has two decks, and if the weather happens to be rainy and cold, one can go inside and look out through picture windows. For a fuller sense of the Lady Alderbrook herself, see www.alderbrookresort.com; go to “Area&Activities”; select “Lady Alderbrook” on the left-hand side of the page.

     Please dress for the weather and, then, extra warmly, to counter breeze on the water. Bring food and water as needed. Bring binoculars, of course. The trip will cost $25 per person, payable at the dock. Please contact Faye McAdams Hands to sign up for the trip at zest4parus@hotmail.com or 360-275-0553. Limit:  50 people. Since we are partnering, register as quickly as you can; spaces will go fast.

DIRECTIONS: The Alderbrook Resort and Spa is in Union, WA, and is about an hour’s drive from the Tahoma Audubon office at Adriana Hess Wetlands Park in University Place.  There are directions on their website (above), or use any app.  CARPOOLING is encouraged.  COME EARLY!

November 17, 2017 – ABC goes to Africa with James Bradley – report

ABC was happy to welcome James Bradley on November 17th, hosted by UPS/Slater Museum (thanks!), the incredible guide with whom Ed & Kay Pullen and Bruce LaBar toured Kenya a year ago. Now living most of the year in B.C., James still sported his African-English accent acquired during his formative years in Kenya.

James Bradley: Geology, Landscapes, and the Biogeography of the Birds of Kenya

James Bradley addresses avid ABC group

His narrative, entitled “Geology, Landscapes and the Biogeography of the Birds of Kenya,” was more of a class than a travelogue, as he took us through the geography, geology, climatology, biomes, and migration routes across Kenya and east Africa. We learned the geology of the rift valley and that the Arabian Sea and Red Sea are older rifts that eventually reached down to water. Kenya is dotted with dormant or extinct volcanoes of three types, as well. Graphic photos showing dry vs. wet seasons of the same areas showcased the scope of habitats available in what we might have expected to be year-round tropics elsewhere. Besides the famous Lake Victoria, there are may other lakes including saline lakes, some of which are seasonal. Flamingoes love these! Although there are many trees, famously acacias and baobabs, there are few dense forests. Because of less dense forestation, birds are easier to see in Africa in general than in the true jungles of South America, for example, plus there’s all that fabulous big game!

Migration routes to and from Kenya

There are quite a few endemics if you count the entire biome for each, which stretch across surrounding political borders. These 6 main biomes include types of groundcover, soil, trees and forests, as well as salt and fresh water habits, which were explained in detail, as well as threats to each.

Vulture crisis in Kenya, caused mainly by poisoning

Critically endangered Apalis

Yummy Cordon-blue

James’ current work is research in western Kenya, bordering Uganda, Lake Victoria, and Tanzania, where he has been studying a possible new species of cistacola. When asked for photos of the bird, he replied that recordings (which he played for us) are more confirmatory for this group of birds which look mostly alike. James is an ear birder extraordinaire, much preferring to identify birds and other wildlife by their sounds than by sight. In the case of the cistacolas, they are also named by their vocalizations rather than their appearances. James gave us a short quiz to see whether we could match sounds with the appropriately named cistacolas, but he called it off before we finished, hopefully not because of our sluggish responses!

Cisticolas named by voice

Flufftail

James goes to Kenya at least a couple of times a year and has been leading small personalized tours recently, and Bruce, Ed, and Kay were certainly sharing their delight with the tour they went on. He will be going again in March/April and possibly again next November. Since the tours are small, you’d better sign up soon. Details can be found on his website: birdinginkenyasafaris.com, and the home page of the site currently features Ed, Kay, and Bruce, with James and other members of last year’s safari.

James Bradley with Willettes in their Africa shirts (Carol, Laurel, Diane)

REUNION: Bruce, Kay, tour leader James Bradley, & Ed

We need a field trip to Africa with James!

Coming Nov 17: “Geology, Landscapes and the Biogeography of the Birds of Kenya”

“Geology, Landscapes and the Biogeography of the Birds of Kenya,” with James Bradley
Friday Nov 17, 6:45 to 8:30 PM, Thompson hall at UPS, room 175, suggested expenses for speaker $10.

Ed Pullen, Kay Pullen, and Bruce LaBar top left. James Bradley, sitting left

The Advanced Birding Club (ABC) and the Slater Museum at the University of Puget Sound present James Bradley. James led the fantastic safari that included ABC’ers Bruce LaBar, Kay and Ed Pullen in November 2016, which they still talk about! See Ed’s report: http://edpullen.countybirder.com/2016/12/10/kenya-trip-report/.  James will also mention a bit about the culture of Kenya and what it’s like from the participant point-of-view to go on safari with him.

Secretary Bird

Verreaux’s Eagle-owl

James lived in Kenya for 12 years in the 1980’s and 1990’s, developing a lifelong interest in the rich birdlife of the region from an early age. James serves on the Kenya Bird Atlas technical committee, contributes regularly to the regional ornithological journal Scopus, and oversees the review of records for eBird Kenya. He holds an MSc in Conservation Biology, and when not at home in British Columbia, he is likely to be in the field in Kenya, recording bird sounds, exploring an unknown mountain top or searching for a long forgotten subspecies!

Double-toothed Barbet

Common Ostrich!

His knowledge of birds in Kenya is extensive, and his enthusiasm for sharing what he knows is contagious.

Black-smith Lapwings

Will the Snake-eagle or the Spitting Cobra win this one?

Between work, parenting, and birding, James is currently completing an up-to-date text on the birds of Nairobi.

Great Blue Turaco

African Paradise-Flycatcher

Join us for an unforgettable trip to Africa!

James’ website is: http://birdinginkenyasafaris.com/

Typical safari schedule: http://birdinginkenyasafaris.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/itinerary_Mar-Apr2018.pdf

Oct 11, 2017: Cooper’s Hawks – Ninja Assassins of the Hawk World!

On October 11, 2017, ABC welcomed Ed Deal of the Seattle Cooper’s Hawk Study. Ed is the real deal! He was sucked in by Bud Anderson’s hawk class years ago, a class most of us are familiar with, too. So he started out as an amateur, a hobbyist, an enthusiast, but is certainly a citizen scientist now, with emphasis on “scientist.” The study was started in 2003 by Jack Bettesworth and is now run by Ed Deal and Martin Muller, who do virtually all of the observations and collection of data, as well as banding. This is an all-vounteer, self-funded effort to which Ed devotes more than half his year for almost 24 hours a day! Not coincidentally, this study ramped up at the same time that urban Coops were ramping up, which started in the 1980s and 1990s.

ABC welcomes Ed Deal

This past season they documented 44 nest-building pairs in Seattle! Probably more since they couldn’t be everywhere. Other cities are recording similar upticks. Is population increasing, or are we getting better at finding them? Both, probably. As carrying capacity is approached (and what is that capacity?), will there then be a decline? These are some of the many reasons for studies like this.

Detective tips for finding active nests

Interesting facts are that one-third of young don’t make it to adulthood. The male does all the hunting during incubation and young in the nest. Incubation is noted by the tail tip sticking up out of nest.
Nests do not decrease native songbirds in a measurable way since Cooper’s hawk nests deter crows, squirrels, and other nest predators.
Coops eat more than just birds. This was news to me! Diet is largely Starling, House Sparrow, Robin, Rock Pigeon, Norway Rat, Flicker. So they’re taking advantage of introduced species. There is a recent report of taking a crow! Crows and Pigeons will outweigh a Coop, but the hawks don’t attempt to fly away with large prey, but to butcher it on site.

Let the birds eat the rats safely!

Morbidity and mortality include poisoning via Frounce (trichomoniasis), AKA “Pigeon’s Revenge,” from eating Rock Doves, as well as rodenticides from eating poisoned rodents. The better option to rodenticides is to let the Cooper’s take care of your rodents, not poison both rodents and hawks. Ed has been posting signs in neighborhoods with nests to try to get the word out. The signs are suggested by RATS (Raptors Are The Solution) which has lots more info at http://www.raptorsarethesolution.org/

 

Ed’s sense of humor delighted our group, especially with his deceptive deadpan countenance! He introduced us to a new word that might prove useful in many birding situations: “WOOF: While engaged in a lengthy observation of a perched raptor in hopes of finding its nest, you glance away for a brief second. When you look again, the bird has vanished without a trace. He “woofed” me.”

 

Why do we have so many Cooper’s in cities? Ed paraphrases Willie Sutton: “That’s where the prey is.”

An adult female with red band on right tarsus, 1 over Z

ID tips: Ruddy cheek on female, gray on male. Females with orange band on right tarsus, male purple band on left. These are just the current Seattle study birds, though! Some elderly birds have blue bands.

Four-year-old male (0 over 3) has fledged 17 young over 4 years. He knows how to bring home the bacon.

Further information given is that urban nests are highly unlikely to be Sharpies. Nests can be in any kind of tree, maybe a third of the way down in a tall tree. Big-leaf Maples and most every other kind of tree we have are used.

 

Be glad this isn’t happening with Goshawks, as it is in Europe. There are at least 100 known urban Goshawk nests in Berlin alone. This has depleted most other raptors significantly.

 

Ed’s presentation was peppered with info and great photos of actual Seattle nests and birds whom Ed knows personally, as well as entertaining videos by banding partner Martin Muller.

Adult Male with purple band on left foot and fluffy white undertail coverts

Next morning several of us were birding together at Theler Wetlands and saw a Coop! We also discussed how much we enjoyed the presentation. Faye said, “Now I know how to tell male from female — by the color bands!” Lisa thought the incidence of extra-pair copulation was a sneaky way to improve genetic diversity. Donna and Lisa both appreciated the distance photos which showed how we’d actually see birds or nests (or not see them) in real life.

Ed Deal is flanked by Diane Y-Q, Carol Smith, Faye McAdams Hands, and Laurel Parshall

Thanks to Jerry and Clarice for taking Ed out to dinner to try to defray his travel costs and pick his brain some more.

 

Thanks to WOS for reprinting that great article in Crosscut that we had already had the privilege of reading. Read it here or in the current WOS newsletter: http://crosscut.com/2017/09/seattle-coopers-hawk-bird-study-raptor/

ABC Fall Coast Trip

The group Monday at the Tokeland Marina from Diane Y-Q.


Per our annual routine Ken Brown led us on a coastal birding trip, this time a Sunday-Monday rather than the usual Saturday-Sunday because Ken, Ed, Laurel, and Lisa went on the Westport Seabirds Saturday pelagic out of Westport. The highlights of the pelagic trip were Laysan Albatross, Short-tailed shearwater, Buller’s shearwater, calm seas, sunny skies, and a huge flock of seabirds trailing a fish processing boat off Willapa Canyon. There were an estimated 5000 birds, with >50% Northern Fulmar, with lots in all three morphs, and seemingly every mutation of the morphs.

Sunday we met at the Point Brown Jetty where a steady stream of Sooty shearwaters, two Parasitic jaegers, loons, ducks, and gulls were seen, but no rock-birds. This was the story of the weekend really, nice weather, good comradery, and few shorebirds. We made several stops on the open coastal beach finding primarily Sanderling, then stops at the north end of the Oyhut Game Range (nearly devoid of shorebirds but nice looks at Merlin and Peregrine falcon) where we did manage to see an American golden plover far away across the tidal ingress stream with a flock of other shorebirds. This prompted us to return to the south end of the game range to try for closer looks at the shorebird flock. We were able to get nicer looks at the AGPL but most of the peeps had moved on.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the Hoquiam STP, where shorebirds were surprisingly nearly absent. We had a 7 LBDO and 15 KILL as the only shorebirds, but did see 8 Greater white-fronted geese and a modest variety of other waterfowl.
We had dinner at the usual Mexican place and overnight at the Best Western Plus (the old Guesthouse) by the river.
Monday AM we awakened to fairly dense fog by the river, and were relieved that it cleared as we drove south to Westport. At the Coast Guard Station end of the marina area we had the flock of Marbled godwits, estimated at 600+, and easily picked out the Bar-tailed godwit which in its current plumage is much paler than the MAGOs and easier than usual to find. We spent a bit of time in the overgrown fields by the Coast Guard Station and Fox sparrows were singing, WEME were found, a few American pipits were on the sparsely vegetated ground area to the left of the road in, and the sun started to warm things up a bit.
From here we headed to Bottle Beach where we had 47 species, highlighted by a grand total of 1 shorebird. A single Black-bellied plover clung to a piece of sunken driftwood as the tide came in, but no other shorebirds at all were seen. We had a good time birding the upland area finding a fair variety of passerines.
We had lunch at the Tokeland Marina, where nice new picnic tables gave us views of the wintering Willets, and we looked hard for unusual water birds, really finding nothing other than the usual Common loons, and a variety of grebes, ducks, and gulls.
At Graveyard spit we did see Caspian terns and 3 Bonaparte’s gulls, but no curlew or whimbrels.
Our last stop was at Westhaven SP where we hoped for the missing rock birds, but only Black Turnstones were found which we had already the day prior at the base of the jetty.
A good time was had by all, a big group of 19 on Sunday and 21 on Monday.