By Kimberly Mason
For The Chronicle
GBBC Just Around the Corner
Bird watchers across the U.S. and Canada are getting ready to tally millions of birds in the annual count coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada.
“This count is so much fun because anyone can take part–we all learn and watch birds together — whether you are an expert, novice, or feeder watcher,” said Gary Langham, Audubon’s Chief Scientist. “I like to invite new birders to join me and share the experience. Get involved, invite your friends, and see how your favorite spot stacks up.”
Participants count birds at any location they wish for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their tallies at www.birdcount.org. Anyone can participate in the free event, and no registration is required.
Last year, participants submitted more than 92,000 checklists with more than 11 million bird observations. These data capture a picture of how bird populations are changing across the continent year after year — a feat that would be impossible without the help of tens of thousands of participants.
“This is a very detailed snapshot of continental bird distribution,” said John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Imagine scientists 250 years from now being able to compare these data with their own. Already, with more than a decade of data in hand, the GBBC has documented changes in late-winter bird distributions.”
To learn more about how to join the count, get bird ID tips, downloadable instructions, a how-to video, past results, and more visit www.birdcount.org. The count also includes a photo contest and a prize drawing for participants who enter at least one bird checklist online.
Mount St. Helens Climbing Permits Selling Quickly
Mount St. Helens climbing permits for Saturdays and Sundays during July and August 2012 sold out less than 24 hours after sales opened Feb. 1. On opening day of sales, 4,429 permits were purchased or approximately 21 percent of available permits, selling out the Saturdays and Sundays in July and August as well as many other Saturdays in June and September.
From May 15 to Oct. 31, 15,000 permits are available. During this time permits are limited to 100 per day. From April 1 to May 14, permits are unlimited. This gives climbers the opportunity to buy permits based on weather conditions.
“During spring and early summer, depending on snow, Mount St. Helens is a perfect playground for snowboarders and skiers,” said Monument Manager, Tom Mulder. “We encourage adventurous climbers/skiers or snowboarders to take advantage of snow-camping just below tree line and spend the day climbing, skiing, climbing, skiing, repeat until fulfilled!”
Another option for adventurous folks looking for a new thrill is climbs timed with full moons. The full moon dates for 2012 are: April 6, May 6, June 4, July 3, Aug. 2, Aug. 31 (Blue Moon), Sept. 30 and Oct. 29.
Rugged outdoor families may want to celebrate Mother’s Day on May 13 this year with a volcano summit hike.
“Over the years, a grass-roots tradition has developed at Mount St. Helens. Climbers ascend the mountain in a dress or skirt in honor of their mothers,” said Mount St. Helens Institute Director, Jeanne Bennett. “This is an informal way to climb with a bunch of fun-loving people who love Mount St. Helens and their moms! It’s especially convenient that permits are unlimited for this day, making it available to hundreds of people. Last year over 300 people participated! Really, what could be more fun than watching snowboarders shredding the mountain wearing dresses?”
The Mount St. Helens Institute leads guided climbs on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer, some with a geologist in the lead. Find more information at the MSHI website.
MSHI also offers guided hikes and other adventurous opportunities to explore Mount St. Helens.
Information on MSHI programs is found at mshinstitute.org.
Rivers, Lakes, Streams and Saltwater
“The only rivers that area fishing well right now are the Chehalis and the Skookumchuck,” said Charles McElroy, a sporting goods clerk at Sunbird Shopping Center in Chehalis, “and they’re not fishing all that well.”
Try fishing the Skook by the mouth, said McElroy, “there’s nothing happening at the dam.”
There are only two guides in the Cowlitz right now, he said, “that oughta tell you something.”
Friday morning this reporter fished the Cowlitz at Blue Creek. There were only 20 trucks with boat trailers in the parking lot and the same number of cars and trucks. Three anglers were plying the waters near the mouth of the Blue Creek. “Not even a bite,” said one.
Several guys were hanging out near the ramp and one had a fish, the others went home empty handed.
“We’ve got three weeks to a month before the springers start coming in,” said McElroy, “although they caught the first official spring Chinook at the mouth of the Columbia on Monday.”
McElroy said he has heard that this is supposed to be a good year for late winter-run steelhead, though he has yet to see any evidence of it.
“There were a few early b-run fish caught a couple of weeks ago,” he said, “and you’d think by now the run would have already built up by now.”
A clam dig is scheduled for next week. Perhaps it’s time to save your fishing money and use it to pay for gas money to get out to the water’s edge at Westport.
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer based in Cinebar. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.