When I was a young girl, we had a big Modesto Ash tree in our front yard. I loved to climb that tree and sit up in its canopy as high as possible. I would watch the world go by—cars, bikes, walkers, cats, birds, insects, all while feeling safe and invisible to the rest of the world. If I had a bad day at school, or wanted to get away from my big brothers, I would climb that tree and disappear. My mother liked to recount that one day after school, I came home, put down my things, and ran out to climb the tree. She did not know why, but she knew what the action signified. I needed time alone. While I was in the tree, a boy from school came over and rang the doorbell. Mom answered the door and said she did not know where I was, but he could call me later. She did not reveal my secret location. I watched as he walked away. I don’t remember what had upset me that day, but I do remember that my mother had my back, and that the tree was also my protector.
The health of the natural environment is not a Republican or Democrat issue. It is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is what all of us, non-humans and humans alike, depend on for our very existence. Unfortunately, it has been politicized, resulting in a critical loss of environmental protection over the past few years.
In a slide show of her original paintings, Janet Essley explores the fascinating life cycles of these long-distance migrants, the amazing physiology, and the conservation challenges they face. The Red Knot (Calidris canutus), a medium-sized sandpiper, is a regular guest along the Oregon Coast during its spring and fall migrations. Extremists among sandpipers, Red Knots migrate longer distances, breed farther north, display faster beach-probing feeding maneuvers, and ingest harder shelled mollusks than other sandpipers.
Recording scientific knowledge through art forms from around the world, Essley’s Cultural Cartography of Red Knots is a unique collage of human and avian natural history. Research for this project has immersed Essley in shorebird scientific studies and an astounding variety of human artistic expression from around the world. If nothing else, she says, studying migrating birds teaches us that the world is one shared home.
Last month I finished a couple of books I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to were it not for our ongoing pandemic. The first fiction book I have read in a long time was Richard Powers’ latest monumental novel, The Overstory. As I pondered writing a review, I decided to just include the intro to Alex Preston’s interview with Richard from The Guardian. Then I’d follow up with notes on related material.
“There was something fitting about hearing the news that Richard Powers’ The Overstory had been awarded the (2018) Pulitzer Prize just as Extinction Rebellion activists took to the streets of London. Powers’ richly layered novel engages profoundly with questions of protest and conservation.
Although the regular walks are on a COVID-19 hiatus, we continue to lead small walks with some restrictions in place in order to adhere to local safety guidelines. Attendance is capped at 10 birders. Folks wishing to join a walk can email Bex at firstname.lastname@example.org. All participants must wear a mask for the entirety of the walk and maintain the recommended 6-foot distance from each other.
Friday, September 4th was the first of two “Welcome Back the Swifts” events Lane County Audubon Society sponsored in September. Approximately 85 gathered, families and groups of friends, along with some dogs, to watch the biannual spectacle of the Vaux’s Swifts entering the chimney at Agate Hall. A Cooper’s Hawk swooped up to the chimney around 7:55, quickly grabbed a swift, and flew away. It took about 15 minutes for the 7,420 Vaux’s Swifts to enter the chimney.
Rebecca Waterman, our current walk coordinator, is leaving the area soon. Lane Audubon is looking for a volunteer to take her place in planning our monthly Third Saturday Bird Walks. This is a fun opportunity to meet and learn from birding experts; best of all, you get to be out birding! Lane Audubon has the traditional dates set, a network of willing field trip leaders, and a list of past birding locations to choose from.
Thank You to Ramiro Aragon for completing a bird survey and list for a property near Cheshire, Oregon. He was helped by John Sullivan on one of the visits. The 219-acre property was designated a perpetual wetland by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the owner requested our help in supplying a bird list. Ramiro did a great job!