WET & FOGGY
YES ON 40
By Ken Wilson
Despite heavy rain and fog on December 30, many dedicated birders persisted throughout the day and rallied at the potluck to share some great food and exchange stories of rare birds and birds not seen. The rarities were few: an adult Emperor Goose in Bodega Harbor and a male Common Grackle in Guerneville (but unfortunately spotted one and a half blocks outside the count circle).
The weather and results were reminiscent of the count in 1996 when the rain was heavy, there was an Emperor Goose in Bodega Harbor, and our total species count was 167. We did a little better than that-we saw 173 species and counted 41,918 individual birds. As has been the trend, the number of counters continues to grow, with 138 pairs of binoculars in the circle this year.
As in other years, we saw many species in higher than usual numbers and many in very low numbers. Amongst the waterfowl, those with high numbers included Common Loon, Black Brant and Greater Scaup / Scaup species, both records for the count, while Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Common Goldeneye and White-winged Scoter were on the low side. Amongst the raptors, Osprey, White-tailed Kite and Red- shouldered Hawk were in abundance while Northern Harrier, accipiters, Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk and the eagles were either missing or staying dry. Shorebirds showed a similar split with American Avocet, Black Turnstone and Red Knot making a good showing, but Snowy Plover and Dunlin very low. Offshore alcids were few while inland American Crows, Pygmy Nuthatches and Mourning Doves showed up in high volume. Of concern are the ever increasing numbers of Fish and Game introduced Wild Turkeys.
Showing great persistence, Richard Merriss managed to get aboard a fishing boat and found a Pigeon Guillemot and a Black-legged Kittiwake, neither of which were seen from the shore. Spotted Sandpiper, Greater White-fronted Goose and Ruff were observed the day before the count but not found on count day.
We are appreciative of all the counters and team leaders, as well as those who hunted for owls during the night and those who set up and took down the room for the potluck. Together, we all made a great team.
The next count will take place on Sunday, December 29, 2002.
By Betty Burridge
A marvelous Christmas present for the local birding community appeared in Sonoma County on December 25 when a rare Emperor Goose, swimming among the Brant on Bodega Harbor, was spotted by Madrone Audubon member John Luellen.
Interestingly and unbeknownst to John, other birders sighted the same bird at about the same time, and it is unclear at this time to whom the record belongs. In any case, this species was counted on Madrone's annual Western Sonoma County Christmas Bird Count on December 30 and scores of birders have been able to easily enjoy excellent views of this beautiful medium-sized goose every day since.
At low tide it usually hangs out on the west side of Bodega Harbor, often at the boat ramp at Westside Park, or along the west shore between Spud Point and the Bodega Marine Laboratory. At high tide it is frequently found in the pond near the entrance to Doran Park. If it follows the pattern of two other Emperor Geese who visited this area (in 1994-5, and 1996-7), it may stay through March and possibly until early June.
The Emperor Goose (Chen canigica) normally winters on the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands. Its breeding grounds are along the central and southwestern Alaskan coast and along the opposite eastern coast of Siberia. In migrating south this bird must have overshot its destination and followed the northwestern American coast to Sonoma County.
A close relative of the Snow Goose and the Ross's Goose, the 26" Emperor Goose is midway between them in size. It is silvery gray overall with a white head and tail, and dark chin, throat and neck. Its bill is small and pinkish; the legs are bright orange.
The Emperor Goose is listed as casual (a species that turns up irregularly in small numbers in areas outside its normal range) in The National Geographic Society's A Field Guide to the Birds of North America. There are just three previous records for this species in Sonoma County, according to the newest edition (2001) of Birds of Sonoma County, California by Gordon Bolander and Benjamin D. Parmeter.
In memory of Dick Day:
In memory of Jack Guggolz:
Heather & Eric Maloney
In memory of Garold & Lois Houghton:
In memory of Eve Rannells:
Bob & Susan Walker
In memory of Catherine C. Strean:
Catherine M. Heater
John & Sara Donnelly
Joan & Michael Dranginis
East West Cafe
George & Phyllis Ellman
Jack & Deyea Harper
Don & Louise Johnson
John D. Schuyler
Gary & Susan Specker
By Scott Barrow
Over the past year, the progress of the Russian River Watershed Council (RRWC) has been slow, but we are treading new territory in collaboration and the issues at stake are complicated.
On September 8, 2001, Phase II of the Russian River Watershed Management and Protection Study was initiated. Phase II involves developing a Plan of Action (POA) to clarify the future direction of the study. The end product for the POA is an effective watershed management plan, and its structure is being determined by the RRWC right now.
The POA strategy areas that have been identified by the RRWC are: stream channel restoration, species and habitat recovery, water supply; uplands restoration, land use, regulatory accountability, stewardship activities, public education and awareness, data collection, research and evaluation, long term funding, and organizational development.
The RRWC's Environmental Caucus is presently defining issues within each of the POA strategy areas. Here a few of them: development of riparian corridors to mimic natural stream processes, developing funding mechanisms for purchasing of conservation easements, reducing toxic runoff into sensitive aquatic areas, and creating consumer incentives for water conservation.
We need more community involvement to help formulate the final POA. If the Sonoma and Mendocino communities can't come together and help draft an effective POA, then we will be left with the same processes and ideas that have created the Russian River's present precarious status. We hope you will find the time to make your voice heard.
The RRWC meetings are open to the public, and everyone is invited to participate in the workgroup. Our next RRWC meetings are March 9 and May 11 at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 205 First Street in Cloverdale. The meetings run from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. For more information on the RRWC, its workgroups, and a full chronology of their meeting agendas and minutes, please visit the RRWC web site at www.rrwc.net.
Scott Barrow, Madrone Audubon's representative on the RRWC and an environmental caucus representative on the RRWC's Steering Committee, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 876-3530.
Yes on Proposition 40
California contains one of the most biologically diverse landscapes in the world. Yet rapid population growth and development threaten the well being of the state's animal and plant species, as well as the habitats and resources that they depend on for survival.
The California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002 (Proposition 40) will provide essential funds to help preserve California's ecosystems and habitats, and improve our ability to enjoy already-protected natural areas that are accessible to the public.
Proposition 40, scheduled for the March 2002 ballot, will provide $1.275 billion for land conservation and improved air and water quality, and $1.325 billion for California's state and local parks, recreation, and historic and cultural resources.
Your help is needed to pass this important measure. Please contact Bryan Blum at (916) 313-4539 to find out more about the campaign. Further information, including fact sheets, summaries and a list of endorsers, is available at: www.voteyeson40.org.
Local note: Land adjacent to Petaluma's Shollenberger Park, one of our most popular birding areas for waterfowl, has been suggested for funding under this proposition.
( Note from Claire: I wish to apologize for the mix-up over the program that was on Saturday, December 1, not Sunday, as given in a number of publications. I know that several families showed up on Sunday and were disappointed. I will try to ensure that this does not happen again.)
Owls of Sonoma County. TWO PROGRAMS: Saturday, February 16, and Saturday, March 2, 5:30-7:30 PM at the Bird Rescue Center. Leader Diane Hichwa is the education director at BRC and has a lot of expertise with owls-she even has Great-horned Owls nesting in her yard! We will learn about local owls and meet some of the BRC's educational birds. Afterwards we will go for a walk around the neighborhood to look for signs of owls. Dress warmly and wear shoes that can get muddy. Bring a flashlight for the walk. Space is very limited so be sure to call Claire early at 527-6118 to reserve a spot.
The Birdathon is Madrone Audubon's annual fundraising event
and the proceeds allow us to put on our programs, such as the
Pee Wee events, at no charge. Currently we are scaling up the
Pee Wee programs to meet the high demand for children's nature
programs in Sonoma County, and we could use your support in as
large or small a way as your family can manage. Pee Wee folks
can participate in one or both of two ways:
Monday, February 18
"Peru and the Galápagos"
Exotic birds and other wildlife, tropical vegetation, indigenous peoples in traditional dress and the Inca archeological sites All of this will come to life as Ken Wilson presents a slide show of his August, 2001 trip to the Peruvian highlands, the Amazon Basin in Peru and the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador.
Well-known for his birding skills as well as his birding trips, Ken is the Research and Christmas Bird Count Co-chair for Madrone Audubon and current president of the Redwood Region Ornithological Society. When not travelling, he has a local landscaping business, specializing in water features and the design and installation of natural habitat for wildlife.
The program begins at 7:30 PM at the First United Methodist Church, 1551 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa. As always, the public is invited to these programs.
Point Reyes, Thursday, January 10
Stafford Lake and Las Gallinas Oxidation Ponds, Wednesday,
Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and Gray Lodge, Tuesday
through Thursday, December 4-6
On Wednesday morning the group, now grown to seventeen, met Lew Edmondson at the refuge headquarters on a very cool and windy morning to circle the refuge. As usual, large flocks of Snow Geese and Pheasants predominated. A tour of Colusa National Wildlife Refuge completed the excursion that afternoon. Waterfowl there were very wary, flying at the sight of our cars, perhaps due to hunting activity.
On Thursday, we birded Gray Lodge until noon. Highlights there included a male Red-breasted Sapsucker and small flocks of Tundra Swans flying over the Live Oak Cemetery. Sandhill Cranes were also seen in fields outside the refuge. A Snow Goose with a blue leg band was seen at Gray Lodge. Rangers were aware of its presence and said that it came down from the North Slope of Alaska. A grand total of 80 species was seen.
Bodega Bay, Thursday, December 13
Shollenberger Park, Wednesday, December 19
Howarth Park, Wednesday, January 2
From Betsy Stafford
The idiosyncrasies of our California spring are upon us. One day a warm south wind brings a bevy of chortling robins to our meadows, the next day a biting cold rain sends everyone (except our feisty corvids, it seems) to bushy hideouts and leeward branches (Has anyone really ever seen a Wrentit or a butterfly hunkering down during a wild and wooly storm? Where do they really go?).
But some things we can count on in January and February... like the arrival of the first Great Blue Heron in our Picher Canyon (January 8, this year) and the milkmaids and hounds-tongue that welcome us back to our woodland trails. It's time to think of wildflower hikes at Bouverie Preserve, free lunch and workdays, and volunteering as a weekend host during the spectacular nesting season at Bolinas Lagoon Preserve. Some dates for you to calendar:
At Bouverie Preserve
At Bolinas Lagoon Preserve--Hosts needed from MAS
It's the beginning of nesting season and once again the egrets and herons are back at the Bolinas Lagoon Preserve of Audubon Canyon Ranch. Madrone Audubon is responsible for providing hosts for a number of weekend days (March-May). We are looking for hosts and someone who is willing to coordinate the schedule for this. Please contact Bryant Hichwa (579-1182) to volunteer.
California Duck Days 2002. February 15-17, in the Sacramento Valley region, headquartered in Davis at the Veterans Memorial Center. This wetlands festival celebrates the Central Valley's peak migration period, with many workshops, demonstrations and field trips. For information call (800) 425-5001 or go to the website: duckdays.org.
Bald Eagle Conference/Festival in Klamath Falls, OR. February 15-17. Celebrating the largest concentration of wintering Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states. Workshops, speakers and field trips to the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges, Lava Bed National Monument and Crater Lake National Park. For information, call (800) 445-6728 or consult the website: eaglecon.org.
Wild on Wetlands Weekend. March 9-10 in Los Banos. Discover the Grassland Ecological Area in the Central Valley and view many migrating bird species. Information: (800) 336-6354 or the website: losbanos.com/wow.htm.
Aleutian Goose Festival: A Celebration of Wildness. March 22-24 in Crescent City, Del Norte County. Virtually the entire world population (40,000 +) of Aleutian Canada Geese, rescued from near extinction in 1967, arrives here in spring. It's also a great time to see winter-lingering waterfowl and experience the peak of whale migration. Registration information: (800) 343-8300 or the website: redwoodlink.com/soar.
Whether you're a birder or a sponsor you can contribute to a good cause by participating in Madrone Audubon's 2002 Birdathon. This is our chapter's biggest fund-raiser, and provides much-needed funds for teacher resources, conservation projects, Pee Wee Audubon, general meeting programs and more.
The four teams listed below are already formed and ready to go. However, Birdathon Coordinator Joyce MacLaury is eager to send information and sponsor sign-up sheets to all interested birders. A "team" can one person or several, experienced birders or eager beginners. All that's necessary is to find some sponsors willing to contribute to a good cause, and then go out to count on a likely February day. Phone Joyce at 526-9315 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Sponsors don't have as much fun, perhaps, but are equally important. It's simple to do-if no birders with sign-up sheets come to you, use the form below to make a pledge and send it to us at the address indicated.
We will contact you after February to redeem your pledge. If you would like us to send you a report on your team's or the overall results check this box:
Please return this form to Madrone Audubon Society, P.O. Box
1911, Santa Rosa, CA 95402, Attn: Birdathon.
By doing your Birdathon count on one of four days, February 15-18, and reporting the results, you can make an extra contribution, this one to bird conservation. This year is the fifth anniversary of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), and the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are joining to build this important index of North American birds.
Over 100,000 "citizen scientists" have taken part in the GBBC. The data received helps researchers to monitor changes in the distribution and abundance of birds across the continent. How do you participate? Instructions for submitting a report are available at the web site, as are the results from previous counts, plus bird songs and images. Go to www.birdsource.org/gbbc, or go to your phone and contact the Cornell Lab at (800) 843-2473.
Napa and Solano Counties
The Napa-Solano Audubon Society has just published its third edition of Best Birding in Napa and Solano Counties. This is a more user-friendly edition than the first ones and contains many updates. The price is $10, or $12 for mail order. To order by mail, make checks out to NSAS and send to Uzelle Williams, 2172 Rockville Road, Suisun City, CA 94585. For more information, contact Uzelle Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Liz Thach
Santa Rosa: Noreen Addison, Tina & Jeff Brunecker, Laura Camm, Dan Carey Family, James Childe, Preble Franklin, Papa Lancaster, Sandy Lemole, Gloria Markowitz, Mr & Mrs. D. Mclaughlin, Jacob Myers, Kim Klein, Florence Wiedrick, Mary Walker, Marianne Kesling, Felicia McFall. Petaluma: Deborah Schram, Christa De Bella, Helen Mossberger, Colleen Trundy. Monte Rio: Peter Andrews. Sonoma: Lois Barnett, Leonard Berta, Cecilia Hong, Steve Kapner, Flo Laird, Bob Kowal. Occidental: Ginny Lavine Barrera, Jim & Nancy Henrikson. Cotati: D. O. Brien. Rohnert Park: Celia Cage. Glen Ellen: David & Heidi Carey. Sebastopol: Catalano Family, Julie Aiello, Vivianne Nelson, John Klobas, David & Alice Thorup. Healdsburg: Don & Sonja Erickson, Sylvia Marquez, Randall & Marietta Betts, Kathy Pedroni. Forestville: Andrea Freeman, Mitteldorf Family. Guerneville: Camille LeGrand. Windsor: Al Cruz.
Note from Liz: E-mails and Phone Numbers Needed!
Madrone Audubon would like to add your e-mail and phone number
to its membership database in order to make it easier to contact
you regarding special bird outings, walks, and events. Please
help out by doing one of the following:
Christmas Bird Count
67 Red-throated Loon 2 Cooper's Hawk
25 Common Murre 4034 American Robin
Madrone Audubon is seeking an individual to serve as treasurer (prior knowledge of ornithology is NOT a prerequisite). The responsibilities include the monthly accounting and yearly budgeting, while the day to day accounting is handled by the assistant treasurer. Please contact Bryant Hichwa (579-1182) with your interest.