Sun. Sep. 1, 2019

President’s notebook: Welcome back!

-by John Besser, Columbia Audubon Society (CAS) President

Maybe you didn’t all spend your summer relaxing in the cool mountain air or ocean breezes, but it seems like some Columbia Audubon friends who did are reappearing, along with the returning college students and migrating shorebirds. Of course, our organization didn’t come to a complete halt over the summer. Some of us planned for the coming year in air-conditioned comfort, ventured into the heat to do necessary work, and looked for interesting birds.

Now that September is here, CAS volunteers are really getting up to speed:

  • We have a new News Editor, Joanna Reuter. Joanna has shared some excellent writing with us in the past and we’re very happy that she’s taken on this important and demanding job. I hope you’ll make her job easier by sharing interesting news items.
  • Joanna’s husband, Eric, took a lateral transfer from News Editor to Field Trip Chair. He’s already made progress in our fall field trip schedule, with our next event on Saturday, September 7 at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary (CANS). Check out the growing field trip schedule on the CAS website! Eric is determined to provide a wide variety of field trip options that will attract new participants. Let Eric know if you have an idea for a field trip that you like see on the schedule–perhaps one you’d be willing to lead?
  • Another volunteer busy over the summer was our program chair/VP, Bill Mees. Bill has already filled a diverse slate of monthly programs through April 2020, all listed on the events page. Our upcoming meeting, September 18 at the Unitarian church, will feature a slideshow of birds from across the globe narrated by Edge Wade, one of Columbia’s legendary birders.

I hope to see you there, or out chasing birds!

Band With Nature: Seeking volunteers

The 8th annual Band With Nature field trip for 2nd grade students is scheduled for October 7, 8, and 10 (Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday). Students love the diverse bird-related activities, and volunteers are needed to make the event a success. Volunteers can work for a half-day (2.5 hours) morning or afternoon or both, either one day or more. The event takes place at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary (CANS). Please contact Bill Mees if you would like to help out.

Note from the new Field Trip Chair: Seeking trip leaders

-by Eric Reuter

Building on the hard work of the past two Field Trip Chairs (Lori Turner and Eric Wood), I hope to offer a set of events that are appealing and accessible to many different people. For example, I’d like to schedule trips on diverse days and times, with emphases on different skill levels and interests. I also hope to coordinate with various other groups to broaden our appreciation of birds in the context of plants, land management, and history. In conjunction with some eBird data analysis that Joanna is doing, another goal is to schedule some trips at times and in places that maximize the possibility for certain interesting sightings: The first example of this is an unconventional “field trip” that we’re calling Hawk Watch Happy Hour.

To fulfill these goals, I’ll need help from the CAS community, especially as trip leaders willing to take day-of responsibility for making an event happen; this doesn’t require birding skill, just a willingness to be a point of contact and to donate some time. Outreach is a really important part of CAS’s mission, and diverse field trips are one of the best ways to get people involved in and excited about birding and conservation. Would you like to have a say in what field trips happen? Might you be interested in leading a field trip sometime? If you answer “yes” to either question, please email Eric Reuter so I can add you to my trip-planning contact list, thus giving you an inside view of what trips are in the works and what volunteer roles are available.

Eagle Bluffs reopens after flooding

view of the flooded Eagle Bluffs from the overlook

Eagle Bluffs under flood waters on May 25, 2019, viewed from the overlook platform. Photo by Eric Reuter.

by Joanna Reuter

Eagle Bluffs was underwater for a long duration this summer, but access to much of the Conservation Area is back to normal. New area manager Brady Lichtenberg took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions from 15 CAS field-trip participants in mid-August, not long after the area re-opened to the public. The flood affected many aspects of the Conservation Area, including infrastructure, vegetation, and wildlife. Significant work had already gone into repairing roads by the time the area reopened to the public on August 1. A levee breach near the river access, combined with an unknown amount of damage to pumps, could take longer and cost more to fix. Effects on flora and fauna include a banner year for amphibians, with huge numbers of tadpoles, along with a reduction in certain plant species, such as eastern red cedar trees, that did not survive the flooding (not a bad thing!). It was strange to see vegetation just emerging from mud flats at this time of year, a season when plants are typically, lush, tall, and flowering or setting seed. Fields of corn that are usually planted for wildlife food never got started, though some fast-maturing millet was planted as a substitute. Nevertheless, the food stocks for fall and winter waterfowl are likely to be on the low side, and watching the regional response will be fascinating. Will waterfowl congregate elsewhere (such as Arkansas), or will they make the best of it in their usual locations? Floodplains are dynamic places, and this year will provide plenty of interest to keen observers of the ecosystem. Overall, for a managed ecosystem intended to recreate conditions before river levees and channelization, the flood was certainly not inherently bad. As Brady noted, “We’re in the floodplain. That’s about the only natural thing about Eagle Bluffs.”

Brief notes

  • Membership: The CAS fiscal year runs from September through May, so please renew your membership if you have not yet done so. If you are not a member, please consider joining; after all, you’ve read this deep into the newsletter, you must be committed.
  • The CAS website has an improved events page providing one easy-to-find listing of all CAS-sponsored upcoming and past events. This is the master listing, and it is therefore the place to look for the most up-to-date information in case weather or other issues force cancellations or changes. Thanks very much to Web Editor Doug Miller for his work on the new version of this page.
  • The Columbia Audubon Facebook group is now viewable to the public, so those of us who aren’t on Facebook can now see what others are saying; there has been  some interesting chatter over the summer. If you are not on Facebook but you would like to contribute, get in touch with Kevin Wehner, CAS’s social media ambassador.
  • Over the summer, the Columbia Tribune ran a story about duck stamps and their value for funding wildlife habitat. Check out the article, You don’t have to hunt to purchase a duck stamp.

Regional events

Here’s a selection of upcoming events that may be of interest, though they are not official CAS-sponsored events:

August board meeting unofficial summary

Official meeting minutes will be posted to the website after approval at each subsequent board meeting. Below are brief notes about some topics discussed on August 21, 2019. Please contact a board member with any questions.

  • Programs & scheduling
    • Calendar: see the new, improved Events page
    • Meetings are planned for the coming year
    • Field trips
      • Safety & liability
    • Notifications of high-profile field trips/meetings to appear in “Vox”
  • Board position vacancy
  • Membership drive through September
  • Education
    • Hog Island attendees; Hog Island scholarship policy
    • Winter children’s programs at library
    • Fairview Elementary nature playground
    • CPS Nature School
  • Red-tailed Hawk chick rescue at Columbia Country Club golf course
  • Nature areas
    • Facilities at Wild Haven in need of repair
    • Unauthorized tent campers at nature areas
    • Natural edibles policy at CANS
    • Interpretive signs for CANS
    • Collaboration with Greenbelet Land Trust
  • CoMo Gives: planning underway

Supporting CAS

Carrying out our mission through education, conservation, and outreach takes a wide variety of resources, from the valued time of dedicated volunteers to the financial support of members and donors. We welcome and appreciate all participants and supporters of our work through their generous donations of time, money, or other resources.

Submitting material to The Chat

The Chat is published online on the first of every month from September through May. Submissions are welcome, including photographs, stories, and brief notes about bird or nature observations. Please contact News Editor Joanna Reuter with submissions, feedback, or suggestions for content. The submission deadline is the 25th of each month.