Meadowlark Masthead

The Official Newsletter of the Meadowlark Audubon Society of the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming

Non-member subscriptions of printed copies of this newsletter are available for an annual fee of $6.00 to cover postage and printing.
Make your check out to Meadowlark Audubon and send to: Meadowlark Audubon Newsletter; P.O. Box 2126.; Cody, WY 82414.

Vol. 6, No. 1 -- August 2005


IBA Monitoring Resumes in Fall
-- by Nancy Ryan

Plans are going forward once again to monitor the fall migration of waterfowl on the Beck Lake Important Bird Area (IBA) complex. This year the volunteer group will be co-chaired by Gilbert Hatcher and myself.

The monitor volunteers at present also include Jackie Anthony, Jo Cook, Donna Haman, Rita Lewis, Dorenda and Johnny Hanna, and Joyce Harkness. Jennifer and Neil Miller have offered to "back up" the group.

Joyce Cicco, Meadowlark V.P., is developing a standardized protocol under direction of local bird expert Chuck Neal, Draper Museum (BBHC) Curator Chuck Preston, Wyoming G&F Nongame Biologist Andrea Cerovski, and others.

The protocol is in the second draft stage and will be available in September. Joyce Cicco and I have driven the route and established preliminary stopping sites. The protocol sets a time frame for viewing at each site.

Volunteers will record dates, weather conditions and other pertinent data. I will deliver copies of each monitoring session to Chuck Preston for entering into a database.

Chuck Preston will give a waterfowl identification class to help the volunteers.

Gilbert and I encourage all Audubon members to participate in this class and to volunteer for this project. Call me at 307-202-1334 if you are interested.

We will publish the time and format of the waterfowl identification class shortly. We plan to develop a good, solid monitoring program and we need your help.

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Osprey Nest Sites Expanding
-- by KaCey Ross

Good news from our former project, the Beartooth Ranch at Clark. Four years ago Pacific Power helped us erect a platform on a pole at the edge of the Clark's Fork River. This sort of structure offers house-hunting osprey the opportunity to nest. Since that time there have been birds perching nearby, but no nesting.

This year they got serious and a nest with three chicks has resulted. That productive an effort would point to good fishing and diligent parenting. In addition, a mini-rookery, at least sex nests, has been established by great blue herons in the large cottonwoods in the dooryard.

Farther east, osprey tried to build a nest on an REA pole near Otto this year. There are nearby private fishing ponds making this a productive site for the birds. After removing the nest, Basin REA asked for our help in building at another site and Harrington Reservoir has been chosen. They have to do an EIS and then we'll get on with it.

We also plan still another nest site on the river east of town at the request of a Cody Audubon member with a perfect site in mind.

The Meadowlark Board has authorized a small budget for these projects. In all probability there will be no expense. Utilities are very generous with supplies and the use of their equipment and labor. Their dumpsters are a good source of bits and pieces as well.

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Landowner creates preserve...
-- by Dee Oudin

Wetland habitat on private property east of Alkali Lake is becoming a wildlife sanctuary, thanks to the owner who has turned to Meadowlark Audubon for advice and participation. The preserve is a natural and beneficial extension of the Alkali and Beck Lakes Important Bird Area.

Buchanan Bird Sanctuary owner Daphne Grimes has placed the land under a permanent conservation easement. Cattle no longer will invade the wetland.

Meadowlark president Dennis Saville has proposed that our chapter create certain habitat enhancements to the sanctuary over the long range. A couple of small ponds along with deep water moats to deter predators are planned. Eventually, other improvements may include replanting native species and building a small bird blind or two and a perimeter trail. The public will have access.

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...chapter members provide labor
-- by John Stafford

Meadowlark Audubon volunteers removed an internal fence on the Buchanan wetland over a period of weeks this spring. The fence had restrained livestock from a boggy area. Cattle will no longer graze the preserve property.

In response to the wishes of the property owner, Daphne Grimes, Meadowlark Audubon began work this May. Intermittently, volunteers worked until all T-Posts, wires and braces were uprooted and stacked along perimeter fences, which will remain insitu.

Work will resume this fall when temperature return to comfortable and biting insects expire. Final work for this stage of the Buchanan property is the complete removal of aforementioned fence material.

Those providing labor were Ann Belleman, Daryl LeFevre, Kevin and Kyle Hurley, KaCey and Johnny Ross, Sue and Gilbert Hatcher, Dee Oudin, Julia Lewis, Dennis Saville, Sean Sheehan, and myself, John Stafford. John Ross hung and rattled with serious grunt effort and the special brand of Johnny's good old American know-how. Special accolades should be heaped on David Goswick for his efforts (read: "work") above and well beyond the call.

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Calendar for Fall/Early Winter

See the Calendar of Events page of this Web site for more detail.

Sept. 1 - board meeting
Sept. 8 - general meeting; program is John James Audubon by Sarah Boehme of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center
Oct. 6 - board meeting
Oct. 13 - general meeting; program by Mountain Bluebird Trails on bluebird trails/conservation; special guests from Wyoming Audubon are state director Brian Rutledge and IBA coordinator Alsion Lyon
Oct. 14 - dedication of Important Bird Area sign at Beck Lake; messages from Brian Rutledge and Alison Lyon
Nov. 3 - board meeting
Nov. 10 - general meeting; program to be announced
mid-November - next newsletter
Dec. 17 - Kane Christmas Bird Count; contact Terry Peters, 307-548-6814
Dec. 20 - Clark Christmas Bird Count; contact Mary Klein, 307-645-3223
Dec. 31 - Cody Christmas Bird Count (alternate date Jan. 2); contact Joyce Cicco, 307-527-5030

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IBA sign project complete - State Officers attend

A new shoreline sign explaining the significance of Beck and Alkali Lakes south of Cody as bird habitat has been produced and installed by Meadowlark Audubon. State and local Audubon members will formally dedicate the sign on October 14.

Executive Director Brian Rutledge and Conservation Coordinator Alison Lyon, both of Wyoming Audubon, will visit our chapter on October 13-14 and participate in the sign ceremony.

As an officially accepted Important Bird Area, the lakes become part of a global network of critical bird habitats. The IBA concept was begun by BirdLife International, with the Audubon Society a partner in North America. Across Wyoming, 44 sites are in the IBA network.

Habitat at Beck and Alkali is important because it provides breeding areas for waterfowl, critical resting areas for migratory birds, and a winter preserve. An IBA earns the designation when it is deemed crucial to the survival of bird species.

Three Northwest College art and graphics students designed the sign according to Audubon guidelines and created the original artwork for it. Meadowlark board member Sean Sheehan built the iron frame.

Several members volunteered the labor for digging holes and pouring cement to install the framework and erect the sigh. They included John Ross, Dave Goswick, John Stafford, Kevin and Kyle Hurley, Sean Sheehan, and Dennis Saville.

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I Hear The Cry
-- by Neil Miller

I hear the cry of a far away land,
As the wind blows through the trees.
I feel the tug of some lonesome place
When the sunset stirs the breeze.

I hear the cry of a far off place,
Especially away to the north,
Where nights are long and lonely
And wildness starts to spring forth.

I love the magic of far off lands,
Where wonders never cease,
Like roaring rivers and waterfalls
And the plaintive cry of geese.

I long for escape to some magic spot,
Seep in the depths of some range,
Where endless tundra and eskers lay
And Man is the only thing strange.

So let me lie down in a land up there
With stars ablaze in the night,
And dream my dreams of the wilderness
With the sky filled with northern lights.

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Sage Grouse Lek Field Trip
-- by Dee Oudin

Rain. Pitch-dark at 5 a.m. on April 9. How tempting to stay in bed.

But I knew trip leader Dennis Saville wouldn't let little things like that stop him from a field trip. And sure enough, there he was at the rendezvous site, waiting in the rain.

Dennis took eight early-birders (including three from Red Lodge and two from Cowley) to The Nature Conservancy's Heart Mountain Ranch, and up to the big plateau between ranch headquarters and the mountain. Our destination was a Sage Grouse lek and we were still in the dark, but the rain had quit.

It was eerie but magical when we stopped and slipped out of the vehicles. Invisible yet, the male Sage Grouse already were booming, the sounds surrounding us in the pre-dawn.

Gradually the heavy overcast yielded faint gray light that showed drouse scattered all around the lek. Slowly we could pick out one, then another, then several more of the males, all intent on their strutting ritual. The drab females were very hard to see, however.

At the proper time, for them, the birds quit and strolled away. By then we could see we were just below the clouds and Heart Mountain was nowhere to be seen. A clear morning would have given a better look at the birds, but the sounds in the dark were certainly worth going for.

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Big Horn Mountain Field Trip Report
-- by Joyce Cicco

So many times someone has said to me, "I've been meaning to go on a Meadowlark field trip, but I've just been too busy."

Meadowlark Audubon has presented some fantastic trips, thanks to the efforts of field trip chairmen who have arranged the trips, and to the field trip leaders who have shared their expertise and time, and often their vehicles and other equipment.

If you've thought of joining the group on a trip, but haven't, make a commitment that next year you will go on at least one trip. Not only will you have a chance to experience new sights and learn new things, you will also have an opportunity to get to know other members and make friends with people who have similar interests. In addition, you will be saying "thank you" to Meadowlark's volunteers for their time and work spent in providing interesting experiences and unique educational opportunities.

One such opportunity was the Big Horn Mountain field trip, held on Saturday, May 21, 2005. Dennis Saville, Meadowlark president, led a group in 4-wheel drive vehicles up the rugged John Blue Canyon road into the Big Horn Mountains on the east side of Bighorn Lake. The group of approximately 18 "explorers" met at the Bighorn Canyon NRA Visitor Center in Lovell and, after introducing themselves to the others, made carpooling arrangements to drive seven vehicles on the journey. The participants were treated to a grand tour of the area, including views of the Devils Canyon Acquisition Area on Little Mountain, now inhabited by Bighorn sheep transplanted there from Oregon through joint efforts of the Wyoming G&F, BLM and other agencies.

In addition to views of Devils Canyon, the group stopped to see the remnants of past uranium mining operations, including abandoned structures at a site called "Armpit." Heavily graffitied walls in the structures provided an amusing break from the bumpy roads, and the crude outhouse provided additional relief.

Caves, generally a product of erosion in the Madison Formation limestone, proved to be of great interest as the group took short walks to view entrances and peer into the depths of three caves, Natural Trap, Bighorn and Horse Thief.

A rise in the land which obscures the opening of Natural Trap cave from sight in at least one direction, plus the large size and horizontal pit-type mouth of the cave, combine to have made it a deadly surprise for numerous creatures which plummeted into the 75 ft. abyss and became a part of the historical record. Archaeological digs and studies of Natural Trap cave have produced evidence of many extinct species, including five species of Pleistocene horses, the Short-faced bear, American Cheetah, American lion, Dire wolf, Woodland muskox, Mammoth, and an ancient Bison. This cave has been called one of the most important spots for fossil DNA in the world.

The other caves, Horse Thief and Bighorn, were previously conjoined, but according to one story, the passage was sealed off with cement by Indians to prevent illegal access to the Crow reservation. The descent into Bighorn cave is not for the inexperienced or faint of heart. A long and narrow horizontal slit in the rock, bordered by sheer vertical walls of stone, access this 83 ft. deep cave. Heavy metal framework above the cave opening allows for ropes and other equipment to be attached, and Dennis informed the group that the cave is regularly used for advanced rescue training. The mouth of Horse Thief cave is hidden by a sloping and angled wash, and though the cave appears to have a more gradual entry, descent into the cavern must be achieved by rappelling down the steep walls.

Fortunately for modern-day animals, including overly-adventuresome humans, all three cave openings are protected from accidental falls and illegal entrance by heavy metal bars and locks. In the case of Natural Trap cave, there is an extremely heavy grate; Bighorn cave has a large and very stout cage of bars surrounding the opening; and Horse Thief has a gate of heavy bars. Permission must be obtained from the BLM to enter Horse Thief or Natural Trap caves, and the Bighorn Canyon NRA is responsible for granting permission to enter Big Horn cave.

A highlight of the trip was the sighting of seven or eight of the Bighorn sheep which had been relocated from Oregon into the mountains which bear their name. A watering tank, newly installed by the BLM, had drawn the band of sheep into view across Porcupine Creek (Devils Canyon), and spotting scopes provided excellent views of the animals.

Thanks, Dennis, for a wonderful trip. And thanks to all those who made the trip; Meadowlark's leaders appreciate your participation, and we hope that many more of our members will join us on future expeditions.

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Shell Creek Field Trip
-- by John McGough

The Lake Adelaide Trail along Shell Creek in the Big Horn National Forest was the setting for the June 25 Meadowlark Audubon Society field trip. Including master-birder visitors from Casper and Ranchester, 15 cheerful and enthusiastic hikers were treated to a splendid early summer mountain morning.

Plentiful spring moisture helped produce meadows full of wildflowers, although the roar of high water in Shell Creek made it difficult at times to hear some birdcalls. The classic Big Horn Mountain mixture of forested and open habitats, including creek-side conifers, aspen groves, and upland sage-covered sloping parkland strewn with large granite and dolomite boulders, allowed 25 bird species to be encountered.

Sightings included: Dark-eyed Junco, Green-tailed Towhee, American Robin, Common Raven, Chipping Sparrow, Pine Siskin, Violet-green Swallow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Townsend's Solitaire, Red-shafted Flicker, Mountain Bluebird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, House Wren, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Red-naped Sapsucker, Mountain Chickadee, Warbling Vireo, Tree Swallow, Red-tailed Hawk, Spotted Sandpiper, Golden Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Dusky Flycatcher, Hermit Thrush and an Empidonax flycatcher.

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Bear Canyon Field Trip
-- by Neil and Jennifer Miller, trip leaders

On Wednesday, May 25, 12 intrepid birders braved the wilds of Bear Canyon to enjoy a delightful day of birding. As they took the leisurely stroll up the canyon, 28 species were identified including some colorful sightings.

A Yellow-breasted Chat put on a musical show for the birders followed by a vocal display by a Spotted Towhee. Rock Wren calls echoed across the canyon as White-throated Swifts zipped back and forth among the cliffs.

Considerable excitement was generated by the presence of bear scat on the trail. The "slit greet" of the Dusky Flycatcher was nearly overshadowed by the loud, constant calls of the Warbling Vireo. The sweet call of the House Wren was present in numerous thickets.

Lunch was enjoyed at the end of the trail as the faithful Calliope Hummingbird flitted back and forth to his favorite perch atop a snag. The Calliopes have been sighted at the exact same perch for a number of consecutive field trips.

As the group took the leisurely walk back to the vehicles, they met two avid birders (and Meadowlark members - ed.) from Red Lodge hoping to see the Gray Flycatcher, which the field trip participants had seen earlier that morning. This sighting is significant as it provides further evidence of the value of this canyon for a wide variety of wildlife.

At the end of the trail the birders piled into the vehicles, glad to sit down and cool off, and headed for Deaver Reservoir. There they were dazzled by flashing swallows and Black and Common Terns busily flycatching. While trying to get a fix on all the swallows, the rattling call of the kingfisher stole their attention. Wilson's Phalaropes were feeding eagerly in the shallows.

We very much enjoyed the company and camaraderie of this wonderful group of birders. Thanks to all of them for their presence and contributions of the field trip. Previous trip leader John Roland was greatly missed. Thank you, John, for sharing this spectacular habitat.

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Beartooth Mountains Field Trip
-- by Neil and Jennifer Miller, trip leaders

The American pipit (Water Pipit) rustled through the grass, caught an insect, hopped onto a flat rock, and teetered up and down as it checked us out. Making a 90-degree turn on the rock, it presented its backside thus showing us the neat white tail panels. I took a few steps forward, and the pipit fluttered ahead into the grass again and became hard to see as it ran in spurts through the low mountain grass.

This was July 23, 2005, and 10 birders enjoyed the pipit sighting. Eighteen other species were identified including a pair of osprey at Lily Lake, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a Cordilleran Flycatcher. More common sightings included Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Lincoln's Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Mountain Chickadees, and Dark-eyed Juncos.

Missing this year were the Pine Grosbeaks, the Red Crossbills, and the Soras. Even though we were blocked from ascending Clay Butte, the high country was spectacularly adorned with numerous beautiful mountain wildflowers. The weather was perfect.

At Beartooth Lake we enjoyed the camaraderie of the group over a delicious lunch as each shared their fare with everyone else. It was a very enjoyable field trip.

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Golden Eagles
-- by Neil Miller

"The King of Birds it has been called. It has ridden on the banners of victorious armies, stood on the fists of emperors, and figured in the religious life of many cultures.

Though they are powerful enough to attack larger prey--even snowbound deer and antelope on rare occasions--golden eagles feed mainly on marmots, jackrabbits, and prairie dogs. What they crave most is solitude! They thrive where terrain is rugged and people are few! When land becomes populated and tamed, these birds disappear, as they have in the Eastern United States. So to the list of the golden eagle's symbolic attributes, we can add one more. It is a true emblem of America's wilderness: as the wilderness goes, so goes the golden eagle."
--(From Book of North American Birds, Reader's Digest, 7th Printing, 1995)

Soaring high in the sky, dipping, turning, sideslipping, banking, twisting tail with feathered great wings mastering the powerful updrafts. Now dihedral, now flat and level, careening hard right, then left - canting at steep angles. Held in place by balance of wind and gravity.

Shell Creek roars through Box Canyon far below as we sit at dizzying edge of cliff overlooking Cedar Creek. We follow its winding course as it rushes to join Shell - like long separated friends meeting again, at last.

The Golden soars with abandon, absorbed in the pleasure of his skill.

Cool drafts caress his feathers flaring his primaries, vulture like. He climbs higher and becomes a mere speck as our eyes strain to keep contact. I squint against the glare of the cobalt sky brightened by the piercing rays of late Sun.

I lose sight of the speck. I squint intently into the glare seeking his form as a placerer watches earnestly for that telltale speck of yellow.

There! I see him again, much lower. There are two! One above, one below. The higher one has white splotches on its wings and a beautiful white tail bans. It veers sharply to the left, folds its wings and plummets down toward the other.

"Will it attack? Is this a territorial battle?" we wonder aloud. The impact is imminent! But wait, the lower one rolls easily over and they lock talons.

Cart-wheeling over and over, they tumble. Five hundred feet. A thousand, fifteen hundred. We watch breathlessly, silently. Suddenly they release talons and gracefully pull out of the rolling free-fall to soar majestically up and up into the brilliant blue of a Wyoming sky.

They continue to soar higher and higher, the dominant west wind pushing them to the east over Copeman's Tomb and out of sight.

We sit quietly, pondering. We have seen a thing. We marvel in silence at the great awe and wonder to be found in nature.

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Fly Cemeteries
-- Contributed by Hospitality Chair KaCey Ross, who often brings these treats to meetings. KaCey found this recipe in a pamphlet about Scottish teas, brought from Scotland by a relative.

1 recipe pie crust rolled into two 132 x 92 rectangles (uncooked)

Filling:
1 lb. raisins
2 Cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. flour
1 Cup applesauce
1 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg

In a saucepan barely cover raisins with water. Thicken with flour and add sugar. Simmer for a few minutes. Add applesauce. Cool well. Line 132 x 92 pan with one pie crust. Add filling and cover with other crust. Brush with milk and bake at 400 degrees until golden brown (about 25 minutes). Cool before cutting into squares.

Note: You might use sauce of other fruits - pear, peach - but of course it wouldn't look as much like dead flies.

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Meadowlark Audubon Officers and Directors

Dennis Saville, President, Electronic Communications Chair--dtsaville@wyoming.com (note: e-mail address was incorrect in hard copy of newsletter)
Joyce Cicco, Vice-President, Membership, Webmaster--jcicco00@tritel.net
KaCey Ross, Secretary, Hospitality--johnross@wtp.net
Dee Oudin, Treasurer, Publicity, Newsletter--oudin@directairnet.com
Ann Belleman--babelleman@yahoo.com
Dave Goswick--dgoswick@tritel.net
Gilbert and Sue Hatcher (joint members)--grshatch@tritel.net
Daryl and Carolyn LeFevre (joint members)--dctfever@wavecom.net
Sean Sheehan--ssheehan@tritel.net
Julia Smith Lewis--juliasmithlewis@yahoo.com
John Stafford, Chief of Labor Relations

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Membership Matters

Meadowlark Chapter-Only Memberships Expire at the end of August !!

Check your Meadowlark newsletter mailing label to see your expiration date. Won't you please take a minute right now to renew your Chapter-Only membership? Make your check out to Meadowlark Audubon in the amount of $12 and send to:
    Joyce Cicco, Meadowlark Membership Chairman
    26 North Ridge Drive
    Cody, WY 82414

If you have any questions, please call Joyce at (307) 527-5030, or send an e-mail to <jcicco00@tritel.net>

Not a member, but want to join? Meadowlark has two options:

    1.) Joint National Audubon and Meadowlark Membership - To receive the Audubon magazine, and belong to both the national organization and the local Meadowlark Chapter, send your check, made out to National Audubon Society, to: Joyce Cicco at the address above. A new one-year introductory membership for either an individual or family is $20. If you are a Senior age 62 or over, or a full-time student, your introductory membership is $15. (Please note: If you send your dues directly to National Audubon, you must enclose the following with your payment: 7XCH and our Chapter Cody Z56; otherwise Meadowlark Audubon will not receive any credit for your membership.)
     
    The regular Joint National/Local membership renewal is $35 per year, and the Senior or Student renewal is $20 per year. You may send your check to either the National Audubon Society, along with the renewal information they sent you, or you may send your check to Joyce Cicco, Membership Chairman, at the address above, and she will forward it to National for you.
     
    2.) Meadowlark Audubon Society "Chapter-Only" Membership - This membership does not include the Audubon magazine. However, all of your dues will remain in the Meadowlark Chapter to help cover the cost of local programs, projects and Chapter expenses.
     
    The "Chapter-Only" membership year runs from Sept. 1st. to August 31st. of the following year, and the annual dues are $12 per year for an individual or a family. Make your check out to Meadowlark Audubon and send to Joyce Cicco at the address above. For more information, call Joyce Cicco, (307) 527-5030.
     
    Click here for more  <Membership Information>

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