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NEWS FROM LCAS

As we navigate the uncertain waters of the COVID-19 pandemic, LCAS remains committed to bird conservation, education and habitat. While we are, yet, unable to meet, we are moving forward with plans to host fall program meetings.  The program chair is currently reviewing YouTube and Zoom platforms as potential hosting ideas for virtual meetings. We are hoping to have something in place by October 13th.  We will keep you posted.

September 2 fire at Sevenmile Creek as seen from Mt. Helena. Photo by Stephen Turner

On Wednesday, September 2nd, a fire in the Helena area burned about 800 acres on the west side of the city.  Unfortunately, approximately 330 acres of fire ravaged the Sevenmile property where LCAS has been conducting bird surveys for Prickly Pear Land Trust (PPLT) over the last 3+ years.  Surveyor and LCAS board member, Shane Sater will be visiting the area in the near future and will update us on the property in the October newsletter.

Wilson’s Warbler by Bob Martinka

 

Please be sure to get out and enjoy the birds as they move through the Helena area this fall. Migration has been spectacular so far and should continue to be good through September and even into October.  Nature Park has been over run by migrating Wilson’s Warblers. These tiny bright yellow birds are feeding on aphids in the south central part of the park.  Uncommon birds like Chestnut sided and Black and White warbler have also been sighted recently! Don’t wait!

Letter from our President (UPDATE 7/2020)

Ovenbird by Bob Martinka

Dear Last Chance Audubon Members and Friends,

Have you added to your Bird List during spring breeding season?  YAY!

  • We are very proud to announce that we have a NEW volunteer Chair for the Habitat Protection Committee, and it is Shane Sater, LCAS Board member, our Chat newsletter editor, and lead bird surveyor at Sevenmile Creek. The mission of the committee is to: identify and oversee grant applications from local individuals or groups interested in promoting the protection, enhancement, or restoration of habitat that has, or could have, significant value for birds and other wildlife.  Contact Shane at: shsater@gmail.com
  • Birdathon:  This year we had FIVE teams participating in our annual FUN fundraiser.  With all of this enthusiasm we have raised close to: $5000. THANK YOU!

Half of the funds will go to Montana Audubon to be used for Public Policy at the Legislature and other state-wide efforts. https://mtaudubon.org/  The other half stays local with Last Chance Audubon to support our programs and mission.  It’s not too late to donate!  Check our website under Birding, for Birdathon Team Reports and Bird Lists, then hit “DONATE NOW!”

  • Nature Park Clean-up: On June 12, 2020, thirteen LCAS and concerned community members worked with the City of Helena to pull trash out of the creek that flows through Nature Park.  We cleared a whopping 480 pounds!  We have scheduled another work day at Nature Park on Friday, July 17th, at 8:00 a.m.  Wear your work clothes, sturdy shoes, hat, gloves, and plan to get DIRTY!
  • K-mart Ponds:  Working with the City of Helena, LCAS installed new Wood Duck/Hooded Merganser boxes now adorning Pond 2 and the wetland/cattail area of Pond 3. Also, the Sandhill Crane pair nesting there was successful in hatching a colt. 
  • K-mart Ponds II: The City is working with us in removing Russian Olive trees from the ponds, particularly along the dike between ponds 3 and 4, with plans for further removal.  If you haven’t been there in a while, check it out!
  • K-mart Ponds III: We had a K-mart Ponds work day, pulling ‘garlic-mustard’ – an invasive species of weed – from Pond 3 to reduce its spread across the state via waterways.  The City said we bagged nearly 300-lbs of weeds and trash that day!
  • Field Trips: Due to the Covid-19 Virus we are holding off scheduling our next field trip in August.  It will be an evening excursion looking for Aquatic Insects near Helena, to be led by Sara Owen, MT Natural Heritage Program.  Check our website, under Birding”, occasionally to see if and when it’s happening. 
  • LCAS Board Meeting, August 4, 2020, 7:00 p.m. The Board will meet using social distancing guidelines and discuss many topics, including our FALL MEMBERSHIP meetings and what to do in light of the Covid-19 Virus restrictions.  You are welcome to attend.  Please RSVP so we plan enough space.  Jan2854@gmail.com
  • Continuing our collaboration with Prickly Pear Land Trust, we have ramped up bird surveys at Sevenmile Creek to two per week during spring migration, and will do so for fall migration.
  • We are currently working with MT FWP to create a NEW trail at Spring Meadow Lake State Park. We hope to honor long-time supporter of LCAS, Jane Beasley, by giving the trail her name.  Estimated completion date: 2021.
  • Facebook: For stories and photos of LCAS events and birds, “Like” us on Facebook!  https://www.facebook.com/lastchanceaudubon/

Thank you for the many ways you support LCAS!  Stay healthy, and get out and find some beautiful birds!

Janice Miller,
President Last Chance Audubon Society
jan2854@gmail.com   

Birdathon Reports!

Five teams completed Birdathons in 2020 as part of our yearly fundraiser.  Many thanks for their long days and eagle eyes!  Each of those teams has provided a copy of their Birdathon report which can be found on our BIRDATHON home page.  Please consider supporting LCAS and the teams that hit the field this year!  Go to DONATE NOW and contribute to “education and habitat conservation”!  Thanks in advance for your support!

LCAS 2019-2020 Scholarship Awards – UPDATE

Congratulations to Kendall Frederics, a senior at Carroll College, majoring in Environmental Science.  Kendall was selected to receive the 2019-2020 LCAS $1000 Carroll College grant.  Her proposal involves assessing the potential risks of contracting West Nile virus depending on its prevalence between host species and mosquito vectors. 

Kendall’s entire project scope will be posted to the AWARDS page upon completion of the project.

No applications were received for the $1000 grant for high school seniors.  This was likely due to the difficulty that school counselors faced in communicating with students during Covid-19.  LCAS will again offer this scholarship to students graduating in June 2021.

CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT – 2019 – RESULTS!

The 2019 Christmas Bird Count(CBC) was hosted by LCAS on Saturday, December 14th.  Around 50 surveyors gathered at Jorgenson’s Restaurant in the early hours and spent the day gathering data to support the event’s 120th birthday.  Blue Jays, Northern Shrikes and Trumpeter Swans  highlighted the day and several species were seen in record numbers.  CBC Coordinator Coburn Currier has tallied the data from the day and results have been posted on the CBC Homepage.

Regulating Reservoir Blind Update

Flooded Boat Ramp
Helena Regulating Reservoir

Since late last summer Last Chance Audubon has been working with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to establish a wildlife/photography blind at the south end of the Helena Regulating Reservoir.  LCAS’s blind committee developed a set of plans, staked out the area and set aside funds from the 2018 Fall Fundraiser to support construction of the blind.  Read more…