While this past year may be remembered as tumultuous, chaotic and full of natural disasters, Vashon’s nature community will be observing the end of 2017 with events that are calm, orderly and full of natural wonders.
The 19th Vashon-Maury Island Audubon Christmas Bird Count will take place on Sunday, Dec. 31. Beginning between 3 and 4 a.m., one or more early morning owling parties will venture out to listen for owl calls in the hours before dawn.
Several field teams will set out in the morning to survey specific birding hot spots in the count circle, which includes Vashon, Maury, a section of the Kitsap Peninsula and most of Blake Island. Each team will be led by an experienced birder and may record 30 to 50 species. Enthusiastic birders of all skill levels are encouraged to participate.
Less intrepid birders can count birds at their feeders or on their own property and submit them for the official count as long as they follow instructions and use the checklist.
At 5 p.m. birders will flock to the Land Trust building to compile the results and celebrate their rare and unusual sightings. The Vashon count reliably records 115 to 120 species, and there’s always the chance even a novice can spot a rare bird. To sign up for a field team or for official feeder count checklists, contact organizer and compiler Ezra Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-463-0383.
Later that evening, the attention shifts to the shoreline as the Vashon Nature Center and Vashon Beach Naturalists host a family-friendly Moonlight Beach Walk at 8:30 p.m. at the north-end ferry dock beach. Experienced naturalists will be giving guided tours of the intertidal zone. Participants should dress warmly, wear boots, bring flashlights, park at the WSF lot and follow the luminarias to the beach. Both events are free and open to the public.
— Chris Woods