Audubon event will focus on nat’l refuges

For people who love watching nature at work and play, the Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge is a popular destination — especially in spring, when the warming sun melts out the mountain snowpack. Toppenish Creek swells into a flood that spreads out and turns the Toppenish NWR into a huge wetland, attracting migratory waterfowl by the tens of thousands.

So ... what exactly is a national wildlife refuge? Who oversees that one in Toppenish, and the others around the state? What purpose do they serve?

For an educational primer, check out Thursday’s 7 p.m. monthly Yakima Valley Audubon Society program at the Yakima Area Arboretum. Sue McDonald and Rich Albers of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — which oversees the 23 designated NWRs in and bordering Washington — will give a presentation on how and why the NWR system exists and answer specific questions about the Toppenish NWR.

Toppenish and the other NWRs nearest the Yakima Valley — McNary, Columbia and Umatilla — are part of the Mid-Columbia NWR Complex, all managed out of a Burbank headquarters.

The Audubon event is free and open to the public.

---

Bigfoot event set in The Dalles Saturday

People fascinated with Bigfoot will want to check out an event coming up Saturday at The Dalles, Ore., featuring noted (and self-described) “Bigfoot nerd” Cliff Barackman, Yakama Nation forester Mel Skahan and Warm Springs tribal conservation enforcement officer Oliver Kirk.

“Finding the North American Bigfoot” will be held in two presentations, 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Saturday, at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. The evening event actually begins with a pasta dinner at 5:30 p.m.

Here’s the caveat: Seating is limited and reservations are required, and today is the deadline to buy tickets ($25 adults, $12.50 children) by calling 541-296-8600, ext. 201.

Barackman is a Sasquatch field researcher, has been featured on Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot” series and has written extensively on the subject. Skahan and Kirk will give tribal perspective on the stories surrounding Bigfoot. Some of Skahan’s personal experiences were featured in a Herald-Republic series on the Bigfoot phenomenon that ran during the summer of 2012.

The Discovery Center, located off I-84 at exit 82, has a “Sasquatch Revealed” exhibit on display through Feb. 23.

---

Cascadians feature habitat biologist

Next week’s monthly Cascadian program will feature a presentation on beavers by William Meyer, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife habitat biologist overseeing the Yakima Beaver Project.

A biologist since 1987 who has been with the WDFW for 15 years, Meyer will discuss the ongoing beaver project, which relocates “nuisance” beavers throughout the Yakima Basin into natural stream headwaters to improve and restore natural riparian habitat. Part of his presentation will include hands-on displays, such as beaver pelts, sticks and skulls.

Prior to coming to the WDFW, Meyer worked with other agencies on seals and penguins in Antarctica and Alaska and on spotted owls in the Olympic National Park and elsewhere.

The Cascadian presentation, open to the public, will begin at 7:15 Wednesday, Jan. 29, at Living Care Retirement Community’s Meyer Auditorium (215 N. 40th Ave.) in Yakima.

---

W.K. series’ round turns to family affair

Age and family were both served on the third Sunday of the W.K. Button Shoot, the Yakima Valley Sportsmen’s 10-week trapshooting series at the Pomona range named after the late longtime trapshooting enthusiast Wayne Klingele. The two men’s division shooters who broke perfect scores in Sunday’s cold and foggy conditions were Paul Klingele, one of Wayne’s four sons, and Jason Klingele, Wayne’s grandson and Paul’s nephew.

It took a lengthy shootoff before Paul Klingele took home the button. Jason didn’t come home empty-handed, though, winning the Annie Oakley competition at the day’s end.

Junior shooter Dakotah Eims also broke a perfect 25x25 to win that division, while Chuck Stivers, Eric Giesy and Glen Lowrie each went 23x25 in the seniors division before Stivers won the shootoff. First-time shooter Colby Klingele topped the ladies while Tom Pratt won the button in the super seniors.

---

BIRD ALERT

The northern shrike, sometimes called the butcher bird, has a rather bloodthirsty feeding habit: It impales its prey, usually small birds and mammals, on sharp thorns or barbed wire,from which the shrike can pull it apart and consume it.

So imagine the surprise when a local Greenway birder walking near the Poppoff Trail pond spotted a fearless house finch swoop down twice, harassing the shrike before landing on a branch above it. A few seconds later, the shrike blasted up and grabbed the finch, taking it to the ground in a fluttering spin. So much for the bravado of the finch.

Bird enthusiasts in the fields along lateral C Road and Marion Drain Roads were treated to this surprise — a sandhill crane feeding with two great blue herons in the field. They also spotted a prairie falcon on Wierman Road between Toppenish and Wapato.

A Yakima house feeder has been visited all winter by a female Anna’s hummingbird, but this week the feeder has had a male Anna’s coming by as well. Anna’s hummingbirds seem to be wintering over in our area more often now, so it may be worth the effort to keep thawed feeders out in the winter.

Please email your bird sightings into the Yakima Valley Audubon at birds@yakimaaudubon.org or leave a message at 509-837-6930.

Kerry L. Turley

---

ON THE CALENDAR

THIS MORNING: The Cascadian Free Spirits intend to do a snowshoe trek at Morse Creek Road near Chinook Pass, a 5- to 6-miler with 500 feet of elevation gain. The group will head out at 8 a.m. from the 40th Avenue Bi-Mart south lot. Heading out at that same time will be the Cascadian Trekkers, to a hike/snowshoe trek of the trip leader’s choosing based on the day’s weather and trail conditions. If you’re heading out with either group, bring lunch and the 13 essentials.

THURSDAY: The Cascadian Pokies, in a change from the schedule in the club newsletter, will hike on the Greenway from Sarg Hubbard Park. For new meeting time, place and other information, call Sharon at 509-697-6896.