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.