LEE HORTON’S OUTDOORS: Christmas Bird Counts kick off with warm-up Saturday

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT the Christmas season that makes me want to count birds.

I went for a walk the other day and saw seven swans swimming, six geese laying eggs, four colly birds, three French hens, a pair of turtle doves and a partridge perched on the branch of what looked like a pear tree.

I stopped counting foul there, and decided to start keeping track of the number of tattoo shops in Port Angeles. But there were so many that I got bored.

Counting birds is much more satisfying.

The 114th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count is taking place throughout the state of Washington and the United States over the next month.

According to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running citizen science survey in the world, with thousands of participants across the nation each year.

These bird counts reveal the long-term trends of birds, such as which birds are decreasing in number and which are increasing.

The North Olympic Peninsula has three different bird counts, the first taking place in the middle of the month.

Before that, though, the Sequim-Dungeness River Audubon Center is hosting a Christmas Bird Count warm-up this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This event will help counters get their eagle-eyes tuned up so they are fully prepared to count and identify birds when showtime arrives.

To participate in the warm-up, meet at Railroad Bridge Park (2151 Hendrickson Rd. in Sequim) at 9 a.m. to discuss forest birds.

Around noon, participants will travel to Dungeness Landing Park to view saltwater birds.

Here is the information for the Peninsula’s Christmas Bird Counts, including the coordinators’ contact information to sign up for the counts:

■ Port Angeles: Saturday, Dec. 28; Barbara Blackie, 360-477-8028, blackieb@olypen.com.

■ Port Townsend/East Jefferson County: Saturday, Dec. 14; Admiralty Audubon, Dan Waggoner, danwags57@gmail.com.

■ Sequim-Dungeness: Monday, Dec. 16; Bob Boekelheide, 360-808-0196, bboek@olympus.net.

The Sequim-Dungeness count includes a chili feed for counters, beginning at 5 p.m.

Trout fishing on Lake Leland

“Lake Leland is still producing,” Brian Menkal of Brian’s Sporting Goods and More (360-683-1950) in Sequim said.

With the cold spell the Peninsula is experiencing, the number of anglers angling on Leland likely will decrease.

Of course, the toughest among us will keep fishing.

Others will adjust their technique.

“One of the nice things about Lake Leland that isn’t found in 90 percent of Western Washington lakes is that the location of the parking lot at the county park/launch allows you to bank fish while sitting in your car during bad weather,” Ward Norden, a fishing tackle wholesaler and former fishery biologist, said.

As I wrote in last Friday’s column, Norden suggests still fishing for best results.

Here is more on that.

“If you are in a boat, anchoring along the shoreline drop-off is a good plan as the fish tend to swim parallel to it,” Norden said.

“In Lake Leland, much of the shoreline has a sharp drop to about the 20-foot depth only about 30 feet from shore, so anchoring on either side is a good plan this time of year — that changes toward spring.

“Casting from the beach, not too far, does the same.”

Razor clam dig days remaining

The current razor clam dig is open through Saturday, if you’re willing to travel to Twin Harbors Beach near Westport.

Here are the remaining days and low tide information:

■ Today: 8:17 p.m.; -1.4 feet.

■ Friday: 9:05 p.m.; -1.0 feet.

■ Saturday: 9:56 p.m.; -0.3 feet.

No digging is allowed before noon.

Another razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled to begin next Saturday, Dec. 14.

This five-day dig is awaiting state approval after marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat.

These are the dates, low tides and beaches for the upcoming dig:

■ Saturday, Dec. 14: 4:45 p.m.; -0.1 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks.

■ Sunday, Dec. 15: 5:26 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbor and Mocrocks.

■ Monday, Dec. 16: 6:03 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks.

■ Tuesday, Dec. 17: 6:38 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Twin Harbors.

■ Wednesday, Dec. 18: 7:12 p.m.; -0.3 feet; Twin Harbors.

Stay tuned for the approval of this dig.

________

Sports Editor Lee Horton appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at lhorton@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 04. 2013 6:12PM
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