Wednesday, January 23, 2013

a day of service

Kah Tai uplands, pre-1980. Photo courtesy S Hayden.
Monday was MLK Day, a day of service in our community. Some folks journeyed to Irondale Beach to help the County convert a hazardous waste area into wildlife habitat; much invasive blackberry and ivy were waiting to be removed. Other folks headed up to Fort Worden to work on the invasion of Scot's broom in our state park.

Some of us had our 'day of service' a day earlier at Kah Tai. At least sixteen volunteers showed up and diligently put in a few hours each, pulling Scot's broom. A few new faces joined our ranks. In December, we had eighteen volunteers with several new faces, a record for Scot's broom efforts in recent memory. There've been times in the recent past when a Kah Tai work party would draw the same four people, but now there's a sense of ownership with the park.

In December, a volunteer found  and pulled what is likely the oldest Scot's broom remaining at Kah Tai, a monster over eight feet tall. It was tucked in on one of the berms along Sims Way and when not in bloom it was camouflaged with other similar-sized shrubs. There's still a lot of broom, but it is mostly quite small, often too young to bloom.

For those who think Kah Tai is a failed park, go stand in the uplands, turn to face the courthouse, and see what your view is now. Then compare it to the photo here, taken before the park was created in 1981, when the uplands were young dredge spoils and Scot's broom was about all that would grow. The native plants slowly seeded in and were protected by the hardy broom back then, but time and nature and more than a little help from her friends have brought the park to life.

There'll be another planting party on February 23rd. Pacific dogwood, mock orange, blue elderberry, red flowering currant, twinberry and other natives. We hope to introduce another 130 trees and shrubs into the park.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

'of course, the eagles are always about'

David Gluckman's spotting scope
Ten birders participated in an Admiralty Audubon chapter field trip along the southern edge of Kah Tai Lagoon today. Highlights were five raptor species, including a 'very spiffy' Peregrine Falcon perched on a utility pole at the east park entrance.

Here, in order of sighting, are the 37 species seen: Bald Eagle, Cooper's Hawk, Black-capped Chickadee, American Crow, Double-crested Cormorant, Glaucous-winged Gull, Northern Flicker, Bufflehead, Mallard, American Coot, Ruddy Duck, Common Goldeneye, Red-winged Blackbird, Scaup species, Pied-billed Grebe, Anna's Hummingbird, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Great Blue Heron, Song Sparrow, American Robin, Red-tailed Hawk, European Starling, Red-breasted Merganser, Canada Goose, (probable) Cackling Goose, Pine Siskin, Eurasian Wigeon, Bewick's Wren, Northern Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, House Finch, Purple Finch, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Golden-crowned Kinglet.

A few human slackers didn't show up to look into the spotting scopes and marvel at the abundance of riches. So this photo showed up in the inbox, entitled 'we missed you'. And being slackers made some of us miss out on seeing what would have been our first Northern Harrier. I mentioned the list of raptors to a friend who has the good luck to have a front window filled with a lagoon panorama, and she knew the Harrier was back and was interested to hear about the falcon and the Cooper's.  

'Of course,' she casually added, 'the eagles are always about'.