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What We Did Last Year

Author: Tom Driscoll

Every year the New Hope Audubon Society (NHAS) Board of Directors (BOD) meet in the summer to discuss plans for the upcoming year. As a prelude to this meeting, we compile our accomplishments for the past year (May 1 – April 30).

board meeting 2Board members at the summer retreat

We had a very successful year last year, and I look back at what I call the year of the volunteer! Generally, we had more volunteers providing more hours, skills, and assistance than we’ve had since I first joined the NHAS in 1996.  You will see where the volunteers provided assistance and talents in the discussion of our activities below.

We also have a full BOD for the first time since I joined as well. Having a full BOD meant that we could focus on and provide energy and talent for more activities than we have had in past years.  I was very grateful that several new people stepped up to join the Board and engage in our activities.

One of the activities that increased exponentially last year was bird walks!  Thanks to David Anderson and Vern Bothwell, two new board members, and Jim Capel (a volunteer), we held 55 bird walks.  In the past, we have had bird walks mostly on the weekends, but Vern and David started Wednesday bird walks that have been well-attended.  We’ve seen almost 180 bird species on these bird walks since November, 2015.

boone field trip 2Field Trip to Boone area

We also continued our “out-of-the-area” birding trips to Eastern NC on Martin Luther King weekend, Boone on Memorial Day weekend, Howell Woods, and Weymouth Woods State Park.  These trips allow us to show you birds that are generally not seen or are uncommon in our immediate area.

The Education Committee significantly ramped up their activities this year. Mary George and her committee (volunteers, of course) held 3 children’s programs at libraries in Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, and Pittsboro.  The Education Committee also hosted a family bird walk on the Eno River in Hillsborough that was well-attended.  The Education Committee also led or participated in several outreach events this past year, including the UNC Science Expo, several Triangle Land Conservancy events, and others.

Outreach is an important activity for the NHAS. As advocates for nature and the environment, we need to spread our message to as many folks, both young and old, as possible.  Our mission statement, “… to promote the conservation

education outreach at Horton Grove kids trail 2Education Outreach at Horton Grove event

and enjoyment of birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems, focusing on Chatham, Durham, and Orange counties,” compels us to talk with others about saving and/or maintaining our environment. To that end, we participated in at least 17 diverse “nature” events, including the Hillsborough (2015) and the Chapel Hill (2016) Garden Club tours, Wake Audubon Society Chimney Swift Tower Celebration, Sandy Creek Park Monarch Festival, Research Triangle Park Earth Day event, and many others

The New Hope Creek Stream Watch monitoring program led by John Kent and staffed by several regular volunteers continued this past year. John and his crew monitor the creek at 6 sites every month and an additional site quarterly.  With the help of volunteers, John has collected and compiled monitoring data for more than 25 years!

The Conservation Committee was very busy last year and led two new ventures for the NHAS. Mark Kosiewski and his volunteer crew led an effort to build a Chimney Swift tower at Sandy Creek Park in Durham.  There was another Chimney Swift tower erected at the Duke School in Durham as well.  The other new program was the Bird (and Pollinator)-Friendly Habitat Certification Program led by Jim George (Board member) and Barbara Driscoll (volunteer).

Sandy creek swift nest tower TD blog 2Working on Swift Tower at Sandy Creek

This program has been very successful in getting folks to work toward having a friendly back yard for birds and pollinators.  This effort piggy-backs with the program started by NC Audubon to encourage the planting of native plants.  In addition to these efforts, Mark continues to monitor and maintain the 28 Barn Owl nest boxes installed by him and his crew at sites across Chatham, Durham, and Orange Counties.

We had a very successful bird seed sale last fall to help fund our programs and hope to do even better this fall. The sale is underway again, so be sure to visit the bird seed sale page before October 12. We also continue to sell nest boxes to help fund our projects and to ensure adequate nesting sites for some threatened birds.  Although Eastern Bluebirds aren’t threatened, Brown-headed Nuthatches and all owls are species of concern.  Last year, Vern Bothwell (our treasurer) reports that we sold 181 Eastern Bluebird, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Eastern Screech-Owl, and Barred Owl/Wood Duck nest boxes.  We started selling screech-owl nest boxes last year.

We’re not afraid to get our hands dirty as well. We maintain a large area on Jordan Lake on Martha’s Chapel Road, near the intersection of Farrington Road where we have built an eagle viewing platform, developed several miles of trails, and planted some native plants.  Norm Budnitz, Vern Bothwell, and volunteers keep the trails mowed and maintained.  Last year, an eagle scout constructed benches for the eagle viewing platform.

Wildlife platformNHAS Eagle Viewing Platform at Jordan Lake

Finally, we do bird counts in a big way! We have quarterly Bald Eagle counts at Jordan Lake led by one of our Board members, Ranger Steve McMurray.  Many of the counters are volunteers.  We host the Jordan Lake spring and Christmas bird counts.  Many of us participate in several other counts, especially in Durham and Chapel Hill.  There are Mini-Breeding Bird Survey routes, located in Chatham, Durham, and Orange counties, conducted in May and June each year as well.

If reading makes you think you want to join us on some of these kinds of activities, please contact our Membership Committee Chairperson, Anne Dayer, at [email protected].

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