LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS COLUMN: Bird counts starting

By Lee Horton

Peninsula Daily News

IT’S BEGINNING TO look a lot like bird-counting time.

The annual Christmas Bird Counts begin Saturday throughout the United States and run through January.

The North Olympic Peninsula has three separate counts in Port Angeles, Sequim and Port Townsend.

The Port Townsend count is Saturday and the Sequim/Dungeness count is Monday.

The Port Angeles count will be held Sunday, Dec. 30.

The data from the bird counts is crucial because it reveals the long-term trends of birds.

The mighty bald eagle is an example.

Bob Boekelheide, the compiler for the Sequim/Dungeness count, said seeing bald eagles on the Peninsula was rare in the 1970s.

But since the banning of DDT in that decade, bald eagles have recovered and recent counts have shown more than 100 living in the area.

The Christmas Bird Counts are open to anyone.

“You don’t have to be a bird expert,” Barbara Blackie, the Port Angeles count compiler, said.

“We definitely need bird experts, but [those who aren’t] can be teamed up with people who are.

“It’s a good way to get started with the Christmas Bird Counts.”

There are a couple of ways to participate.

You can either join a team that is assigned a specific area within a 15-mile radius or you can count the birds in your own neighborhood.

It is too late to join the Port Townsend count, but there is still time to get involved with one of the other two. Here is some information:

■ Sequim/Dungeness count:

Date: Monday

Contact: Bob Boekelheide at 360-808-1096.

Though this count is just a few days away, you can participate if you contact Boekelheide by noon Sunday.

If you prefer to just count the birds that come to your feeder or those in your neighborhood, Boekelheide can send you an official tally sheet.

Boekelheide said this is typically one of the largest counts in the state.

In fact, last year the Sequim/Dungeness count set an all-time state record with 151 species counted.

■ Port Angeles count:

Date: Sunday, Dec. 30.

Contact: Barbara Blackie at 360-477-8028 or blackieb@olypen.com.

Blackie notes that participants won’t meet up before the count, but will do so afterwards.

Steelie update

Steelhead fishing is getting a little better on the Bogachiel River.

The levels were too high earlier this week, but have dropped back down to acceptable levels.

“They’re getting fish every day, but it ain’t smoking hot, I can tell you that,” Bob Gooding of Olympic Sporting Goods (360-374-6330) in Forks said.

“Guys that really know what they’re doing are doing OK.

“But it’s not spectacular.”

Bob Aunspach of Swain’s General Store (360-452-2357) in Port Angeles, who must know what he is doing, caught a fish on the Bogachiel on Sunday, but he said that the fishing “has been a little slow.”

Saltwater report

Aunspach said the blackmouth fishery is picking up on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

He added that Swain’s finally has an entrant on its monthly salmon ladder, a seven-pound, 10-ounce blackmouth.

Aunspach said the fishery should improve next month when the tides are better.

The most productive spots near Port Angeles have been Freshwater Bay, Winter Hole and Ediz Hook.

The crabbing has been off and on recently.

“Some days, [crabbers] aren’t getting any, and then they run into them again another day,” Aunspach said.

“That’s usually how the winter season goes.”

Anglers meeting

The Puget Sound Anglers — North Olympic Peninsula Chapter — will be featuring Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) at its next meeting.

Menkal will give a presentation that covers the techniques of bank fishing for steelhead and salmon on the Peninsula’s rivers.

The meeting will take place Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the Trinity United Methodist Church located at 100 S. Blake Ave. in Sequim.

2013 derby tickets

Tickets for the 2013 Olympic Peninsula Salmon Derby are now on sale.

The derby, which takes place on Presidents Day weekend (Saturday, Feb. 16, to Monday, Feb. 18), offers a $10,000 first prize.

The event spans the North Olympic Peninsula and features more than 500 square miles of fishing, with weigh stations at five launch ramps: Freshwater Bay, Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, John Wayne Marina in Sequim, Gardiner and Port Townsend Boat Haven.

Derby tickets cost $40. They can also be purchased online at www.
GardinerSalmonDerby.org.

The derby benefits emergency and other vital services for Gardiner, Diamond Point and nearby communities.

Razor clam digs

A few days remain for the latest razor clam dig.

Here is the dig schedule, evening low tides and participating beaches:

■ Today: 7:15 p.m., -1.8 feet — Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Long Beach, Copalis.

■ Saturday: 8:01 p.m., -1.6 feet — Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Long Beach, Copalis.

■ Sunday: 8:47 p.m., -1.0 feet — Twin Harbors, Mocrocks, Long Beach.

Send photos, stories

Have a photograph, a fishing or hunting report, an anecdote about an outdoors experience or a tip on gear or technique?

Send it to sports@peninsuladailynews.com or P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

________



Outdoors columnist Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 13. 2012 5:37PM
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