Monday, October 22, 2012

Painting Watercolors of Autumn

We celebrated the colors of the autumn season this October with John Adams, NW Watercolorist, at the North Cascades Basecamp.  A full house of artists partook in a weekend workshop learning techniques for composition, texture and value, color mixing, and putting those vibrant golds, oranges, reds, and yellows into action in a fall landscape.  Johns demonstrations were invaluable in the painting and crafting process.  The diversity in the group from age to skill level came together as an enjoyable weekend for all.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Capturing the Shades of October

A Photography Workshop with Teri J Pieper

Several of us joined Teri for a day of exploration with nature photography and fall colors.  Teri helped us play with the colors and textures of the natural world coming to life.  Textures of ice, colors of leaves, movement of the river, and reflections of the water kept us alive and excited to take the next step and the next photograph.  Click here to see her blog about the workshop and more photos.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Mindful Movement Retreat

What an amazing way to spend a long weekend in the Methow Valley!  Together with Mary Marmorstone and Quin Brett (through Vera Wellness), the North Cascades Basecamp hosted an amazing weekend of challenge, restoration, and wellness for a group of ladies throughout Washington.  Yoga on the grass or in the lodge filled everyone's stretching and strengthening needs, while time on the rock pushed everyone to new heights.  We hope to do it again next year!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Raptor migration festival weekend

a snowy owl and golden eagle in Pateros
The Third Annual Raptor Migration Festival was a great time this year with many participants enjoying the weekend.  The weather held out for a weekend of great raptor viewing at Chelan Ridge and Harts Pass.  The North Cascades Basecamp was proud to be involved with face painting at Pateros Memorial Park. 

A crowd joined us at the Basecamp on Saturday night for summer squash soup and homemade bread, live raptors from WSU Raptor Rehab Center, and a great presentation by Jim Watson (WDFW Raptor Research Biologist) about his collective 40 years of studying raptor migrations.  Jim led another 15 participants up to Harts Pass on Sunday morning to watch more of the migration magic.  The highlight of the day was continual great views of 2 juvenile prairie falcons unsuccessfully hunting a hoary marmot (quite a sight indeed) and resting on rock and tree perches at the Slate Peak parking area.  We watched over 40 birds in their migration south, catching those thermals and riding the gusty winds.  Happy travels and we’ll see you next year! 

Harts Pass field trip
Raptors observed at Harts Pass on Sunday, September 9th, 2012
sharp shinned hawk- 12
red tailed hawk-15
golden eagle-1
prairie falcon- 2 juv, 1 ad fem
unidentified falcon- 2
merlin- 3
osprey- 1
American kestral- 2
harrier hawk- 1
coopers hawk- 1

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wild Foods Harvest

It is early fall, late summer in the Methow Valley.  Bears are roaming low and high on the valley floor and mountain country due to the ripening of so many wonderful foods.  BERRIES! 

collections of wild berry harvest

We setup a booth with help from the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project at the Mazama Farmers Market last week to describe to folks bear activity during the fall season, and how many wonderful foods (for bears and humans) are naturally occurring in our environment right now.  Huckleberries, strawberries, blueberries, mountain ash berries, elderberries, raspberries, thimble berries, blackberries, bitter cherries, apples, and more...  These are all foods that both black bears and grizzly bears depend on for their winter fat stores.  We of course, also love and cherish the harvest of many of these foods as well.  GBOP's website describes encountering bears while picking berries in the backcountry, "More often than not, the experience of seeing a bear grazing in an alpine meadow is one of the greatest thrills of hiking; just give the bear space to enjoy his lunch too. We all know how delicious those mountain huckleberries can be!"  At the Basecamp, we collect berries and use them fresh on top of waffles or in our homemade jams; dried to make healthy teas and additives for breads and pancakes; and frozen for winter treats in breakfast scones, muffins, and evening dessert cobblers and pies.So put away your trash cans and be careful with composts this time of the year~  remember those bears are searching for the goodness hanging low on the branches that we love as well.
bear food display at the Mazama Farmers Market~ Sept 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dragonflies and Damselfies Across the Cascades

Dennis Paulson and North Cascades Institute students spent a weekend at the North Cascades Basecamp and in the Methow Valley learning and sharing information on dragonflies this summer.  The weekend was spent outside with nets at the ready, searching cattail ponds among the pine forests and sagelands, wildflower meadows at higher elevation alpine sites, and wetland areas of the Methow Valley. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Calliope's Hummingbird Chicks Have Fledged!

July 19th- The chicks are eighteen days old today and after having been gone for two days I was excited to see the presence of flight feathers. Over their head and back they are that brown w/red tipped color, but also have a greenish tinge now. The feathers on their wings are longer and black, there are also solid white feathers toward the back of their wings and tail. Their little beaks are mostly black now with some yellow at the base. Their chins are solid white in color.

July 20th-  I checked on the chicks right before a thunderstorm hit Mazama and the Basecamp. The chicks were sitting close together. There was generally no change in their appearance between day 18 and 19.

July 21st- The chicks are twenty days old today, the number of days predicted for a Calliope's hummingbird to fledge.. which sure enough was right on! I checked on them this morning to find that they had survived the wind and rain of the storm in the protected foliage of the forest. Both chicks woke up when I arrived, they also appeared to be much greener in color. I took a few pictures, and as I turned to leaved both chicks flew out of the nest. I was able to turn around and see one of them fly up into a neighboring tree!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hummingbird Update!

 Remember these tiny little Calliope's hummingbird hatchlings? 

Thursday July 12th, 2012
Today the first hatched chick is twelve days old, and the second chick is eleven days old. The chicks are much larger, and definitely fill up the whole nest. Their feathers are short, even in length and distribution. The feathers are dark brown with white tips. Their orange beaks have elongated but are not as long as a mature hummingbird's. They were nestled in the nest facing the same direction, and breathing very fast but probably normal for a hummingbird.

Sunday July 15th, 2012
Today the chicks are fifteen and fourteen days old. The weather is dynamic today, with some thunder, wind, and sun. Amazingly, the big leaf maple branch that is carrying the hummingbird nest is very reliable, the chicks do not seemed phased. The chicks eyes were open for the first time in my observations which was awesome to see, they are looking around and blinking a lot, also drifting in and out of sleep. Their beaks have definitely developed into longer (approx. 1.5 cm), thinner, and stronger beaks. The beak coloring is now red/orange at the base with yellow edges; the tip is black.

As far as feather coloring and texture goes, the chicks have short, white, feathers on their chins and also slightly above the beak. From the top of their head and covering their back the feathers are a mixture of some solid white feathers and some brown feathers with reddish tips. These feathers are short and smooth and even in length. They are less evenly distributed than the previous observation. They also still have light brown downy feathers that stick up along their backs. These chicks should fledge in about five days!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Calliope Hummingbirds- Daily observations on a mother and her chicks!

On Friday June 29th at eleven a.m. Amelia, Emmet, Kim, Mica and I walked down the trail to the river a short ways to a hummingbird nest that Amelia had found earlier in the day. Carefully assembled on a thin, drooping, leafy branch about six feet above the ground was the tiny nest. It was a small and cup shaped, about five inches in length. Hummingbird nests are made by the female from materials like cotton from cottonwood trees strewn together by spiderwebs which is really cool. On top of the nest the female arranges lichen, possibly for camouflage. When we came to the nest the mom hummingbird was sitting on it. As we took a step closer she flew away with the typical whirring noise that hummingbirds make. Now we were able to look inside the nest to find that there were two, tiny, white, elliptical shaped eggs! Hummingbirds lay about two eggs 1-3 days apart. Amelia had seen only one egg the day before so the second one must have been laid today.

Two days later on Sunday July 1st one of the chicks hatched! This time Amelia, Emmet and I took a ladder to the area and waited until the mom flew away so we could easily peek into the nest. Amelia was the first to see the baby hummingbird and was so excited. Sure enough, when Emmet and I looked we found a little purplish colored chick with a few crumpled feathers sticking out.

The next afternoon on Monday July 2nd, Kim and I took our cameras down to photograph the chick but the mom stayed on the nest the whole time so we tried not to disturb her and left. Around seven p.m. Amelia and I tried to see the chicks one more time and this time the mom wasn't on the nest! We set up our ladder to look into the nest and found two chicks. The babies had their eyes closed and still only a few feathers. I took a picture of them and the broken egg shells left over in the nest. Later that night we brought Steve and Emmet down to see the chicks too.

On Tuesday July 3rd, day three for the first hatchling and day two for the second, the mom was sitting on the nest when I arrived to see them. She flew away though and I was able to see the chicks. Today both of them were moving their bodies and heads while opening their short orange beaks too! Their eyes also appeared larger and rounder today. I left shortly after looking at them so the mom could come back as soon as possible.

Facts about Calliope Hummingbirds:

  • Scientific Name: Stellula calliope. The Calliope Hummingbird is distinct enough to have its own genera.
  • Habitat: Coniferous mountains, meadows, forested hillsides
  • Breeding Season: Mid-May to August, they are single-brooded.
  • Eggs: Usually 2 elliptical or sub elliptical, white, 12x8 mm eggs.
  • Incubation: Only the female incubates and later cares for her offspring. Incubation usually lasts 15-18 days. 
  • Nestling: Altricial
  • Nestling period: Brooded and fed regurgitated nectar for 11-12 days. Fed arthropods delivered by the female until they reach 21-23 days when they will become fledglings. 
  • Conservation: Little is known about many hummingbird populations because they are difficult to study. The only species thought to be in decline may be the Rufous Hummingbird due to some habitat loss. Habitat loss in Mexico and Central America is a potential threat to hummingbirds. 
  • Hummingbird Fun Fact: A hummingbirds heart rate is 1250 beats per minute while in flight!
Works Cited:
Sibley, David. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. Print.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Spring Festival: Celebrating Birds and Botany in the Methow Valley

Last weekend  was the 2nd Annual Spring Festival where we welcomed the birds back to the Methow Valley and danced amongst the flowers of spring in Mazama.  The weekend was full of field trips with birders and botanists alike.  This included an early morning bird walk starting at 6am with Steve Bondi, birding by ear with Libby Shriner and Victor Glick, birding and botanizing with Dana Visalli and Joe Arnett, wildflower walk with Eric Burr, and a riparian bird walk with Howard Ferguson and Scott Fitkin.  Presentations focused on the interactions between plants and birds and their co-evolution together over the millenia.

Saturday's festival activities included the Native Plant Society's booth naming all the crazy human-made, natural, and weed plant items that make up birds' nests as we picked our way through 10 nests from different species.  The most unique items were the snakeskin and spider webs, straw wrappers, bailing twine, and plastics woven into the nests. The owl pellet station kept kids and adults busy, identifying and gluing small mammal parts onto a black piece of paper for a final take home project.  Bruce helped us make basketry woven nests from serviceberry boughs, wool, dried grass, bark and leaves.  The Audubon Society station had life-sized and hand-painted birds positioned in their respective habitats, with field guides and binoculars for easy identification.  And lastly, the Community School Kids invited everyone to be a bird and migrate south in a game that helped learn the hazards and benefits of long-distance migrations.  Lastly, Okanogan Wildlife League Lisa Lyndsay stood with live raptors on-hand, showing off Pigwigeon the screech owl, a sweet-tempered great horned owl, a stubborn red-tailed hawk, and dizzy the kestral.

The day of activities was topped off by Sam Lucy and Linda Robertson's poetry reading at noon, where everyone was taken back by their grace and inspiring words of spring!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Art and Science In Nature

A group of enthusiastic artists~naturalists spent a weekend with Hannah Hinchman and Bruce Thompson, studying ecology and the art of nature journaling.   We studied the myriad of flowers in the shrub-steppe landscape, the wildlife diversity of wetland pond systems, and the circle of kingdoms in the Douglas fir forest. We also studied the art of journaling- how to record what you see, use pictures and words to create an event map, and how to use observation to answer ecological questions.  

Conversation, artistic talents, and laughter was shared easily within the group, and introspective time studying by oneself as well as learning as a group completed a fulfilling weekend of art and ecology

Hannah's feedback for the weekend was, "this is the best basecamp I've encountered as a venue for a workshop~ warm, beautiful, and the major attraction of having you two as devoted local experts".  Thank you Hannah for the kind words.  It was as fun for us as it was for the workshop participants!

Friday, June 1, 2012

New Chick

We had a new baby chick hatch today!  Broody Mama Leghorn is a great mama thus far.  Not too protective, not too docile.  She willingly adopted our friend's fertitilized eggs we gave her to sit on, since we have no roosters at this time.  Hopefully we get a full clutch of 7 chicks out from under her.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Spring in the Methow

What a glorious time of the year.  Spring is really in the air.  Bluebird skies & new wildflower blooms greeting us daily, parading across the landscape.  We camped at Pipestone Canyon the other night to soak in the beauty and watch the full moon.  Yet another season of exploration.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thursday Soup and Presentation Series

It has been a fabulous winter season at the North Cascades Basecamp, and it would not have been as much fun without our regular and new friends that enjoyed the Winter Soup and Presentation Series with us.  Thank you to all our presenters for their time, energy, and expertise they shared.  Our crowds ranged from 35 to 85, and we never ran out of soup or homemade bread.  Thank you everyone for making us feel supported and loved at the Basecamp!  
Alex always smiling!
Holly the master of yummy soups