Posts tagged: Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge
OUTDOORS – Experts in wildlife, wildflowers and geology will combine their talents for a festival of nature walks, youth activities and educational information on Saturday (May 18) at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
The second annual “Floods, Flowers, and Feathers Festival” – completely free, including no entry fee into the refuge – will include nature hikes dealing with topics such as Ice Age Floods and Channeled Scablands, spring birds, wildflower and insects.
The refuge is 4.2 miles south of Cheney, off Cheney-Plaza Road. Drive to the refuge headquarters.
Info: Turnbull Refuge, (509) 235-4723.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Migrating waterfowl are providing plenty of noise and action for birdwatchers visiting Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge this week. Here's today's report from Mike Rule, refuge wildlife biologist:
For the past week there have been over 100 white swans on Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge's Cheever Lake. Mixed in are a few hundred northern pintail, wigeon, and mallards. Common golden-eyes , hooded mergansers, buffleheads, ring-necked ducks, and a few canvasbacks were also observed.
Last year's nesting pair of trumpeter swans and their off spring have been hanging out in Middle Pine Lake. Common snipe have been winnowing the last two mornings.
In case you're not familiar with the northern pintail, it's a subtly-colored puddle duck species that ranks high in eye appeal and aerodynamics. Here's a tip of the hat to The Designer, and to Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson for the photo reminder.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Life has been more complicated for this year's brood of trumpeter swans at Turnbull National Wildlife refuge.
In the three years since Solo the geriatric trumpter finally found a mate after decades of lonesomeness and revived trumpeter family life at the refuge, cygnet survival has been good.
This year, two of five cygnets did not live long enough to fledge.
A third has been missing this week.
Here's the latest report from refuge wildlife biologist Mike Rule:
We have been seeing migrant swans moving through the area mostly Tundras. Several have been on Philleo Lake and a small pond north of Rupp Road just off of Cheney Spangle. Although we do get some trumpeters there are usually less than a dozen.
The seven that (refuge visitors saw last week) may be this year's brood and their parents and sub adults from a previous years brood. I have only been seeing the two cygnets with the adult nesting pair recently. The third cygnet fledged, but it did much later then the first two, and it was straggling when I saw them all together two weeks ago.
We are going to try and get a full count of swans on the refuge this week.
REFUGES – Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and Spokane Audubon Society are organizing an annual work party and potluck for Saturday, (Oct. 20) in the ongoing community effort to restore native riparian habitat to benefit birds and other wildlife species.
Volunteers will plant hundreds of native saplings to plan before installing fencing to protect the trees from deer, elk and moose browsing.
Work will start at 9 a.m. followed by the potluck at noon.
Meet at Turnbull Refuge headquarters. Drive five miles south of Cheney on Cheney-Plaza Road; turn left on Smith Road and drive two miles to the headquarters.
Groups should register in advance. Info: 235-4723
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Trumpeter swans are back in a family way at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge this week.
The photo at the bottom of this post shows the female rising above a newly hatched FIFTH cygnet onThursday morning as two siblings look on from the nest. I made the photo just off the paved trail at Middle Pine Lake near the refuge headquarters.
The male was on the water with two cygnets that hatched on Monday or Tuesday when I arrived today just before 8 a.m.
Two more cygnets could be seen partially under the wing of the female on the nest.
I sat for a long time across from the nest, watching as the male took his pair to the far end of Middle Pine Lake and rested with them on the shore.
At 9:30 a.m., the female began making muffled honks. The male got in the water with the two cygnets and started swimming toward the nest. Just as he got there, the two cygnets under the mother’s wing crawled out, the female stood up and Presto! Up popped the very weak head of the FIFTH cygnet for a brief second before it lay back down.
The male paraded past a few times, as shown in the other photo. The female seemed to be showing off the new arrival.
Visitors willing to walk less than a mile round trip will be able to enjoy the family all summer.
“The cygnets will be stuck there for awhile since we have Cheever Lake drawn down for dam repairs,” said Mike Rule, refuge biologist.
The female mated in 2009 with the late Solo, the male trumpeter who faithfully returned to Turnbull for two decades as a widower before finding a breeding female and ending Turnbull's drought of trumpeter production.
Solo and his new mate raised broods in 2009 and 2010. They returned last year, but Solo disappeared before they could mate, ending what biologists estimate was a remarkable 35-48 year tenure at the refuge.
The identity of the father is unknown . We thought the swan hanging around with her since spring of last year was one of her 2010 cygnets. She was seen with a juvenile swan for most of 2011. This spring she has been with a single adult swan that was very territorial. Since her 2010 cygnet is not sexually mature, it is possible an unrelated older adult formed a pair bond this past spring as a few trumpeters move through the area at that time.
NATIVE PLANTS — Late May is prime time for some of the loveliest wildflowers at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
Join Northeastern Washington Native Plant Society veteran Sylvia Eberspecher for a leisurely 2-hour walk to learn about some of the wildflowers, trees and shrubs.
She will point out distinguishing features of common plants that can be confused with each other, and share a few stories of how some plants got their names.
A former Master Gardener and garden center employee, Sylvia will point out some native plants that grow well in urban gardens. Although scientific plant names will be given, you don’t need to know Latin or memorize botany terms to enjoy this trip. Sylvia will bring her favorite identification books and explain what is particularly good about each one, from beginner to advanced.
Muffins and bottled water are provided. Meet at 10 a.m. by the Turnbull Headquarters buildings.
For starters, here is a plant list.
Pre-register wtih Sylvia (209) 379-5881 or Louise OLeary (509)235-4531 or email email@example.com.
NATURE — Floods, Flowers and Feathers is the theme for a new festival at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge that will feature elements of the Ice Age Floods that shaped the land along with the flora and fauna that flourish in this special channeled scablands habitat.
The festival, set for May 19 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., includes several free outdoor elements:
Call (509) 235-4723 for more information and to make reservations for events.
Places in some events can be reserved online.
Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is partnering with numerous organizations/agencies to make this Festival a wonderful outdoor event in a remarkable environment. Some of the partners include Eastern Washington University Biology Department, Friends of Turnbull Refuge, Ice Age Floods Institute-Cheney Spokane Chapter, Northeast Washington Chapter of the Native Plant Society, and Spokane Audubon Society.
The Refuge is located 4.2 miles south of Cheney, off Cheney-Plaza Road.
REFUGES — Most visitors to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in 2010 and 2011 were impressed with its recreational opportunities, education and services, according to a government survey released today.
About 90 percent of respondents gave consistent high marks to their refuge experience.
The survey, commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and designed, conducted, and analyzed by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey, evaluated responses from more than 200 adult visitors surveyed at the refuge between July 2010 and November 2011. Turnbull was one of 53 national wildlife refuges surveyed.
President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida's Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge in 1903. Today the 556 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System protect thousands of fish and wildlife while more than 400 of the refuges also are open to the public.
Where Turnbull visitors live: Seventy nine percent of Turnbull survey respondents live within 50 miles of the refuge but most nonlocal visitors said that visiting Turnbull Refuge was a primary purpose or sole destination of their trip.
The top three activities respondents participated in included wildlife observation (82%), bird watching (71%) and driving the auto tour route (67%).
Turnbull created: Prompted by local activists, sportsmen, and naturalists, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Turnbull in 1937 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.
Located south of Cheney, the 16,000-acre Refuge supports an extensive complex of wetlands, Ponderosa pine forests, Palouse steppe, and riparian habitats. These habitats create exceptional species diversity, providing homes for hundreds of migratory birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, plants, and other life.
“Turnbull’s unique Channeled Scabland landscape formed by volcanic activity and glacial floods created diverse wildlife habitats that also attracts visitors from around the country,” said Turnbull Refuge Manager Dan Matiatos.
The survey found 94 percent of respondents were satisfied with the refuge’s job of conserving fish, wildlife and their habitats.
HUNTING — Yesterday, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife had not firmed up proposed revisions of the master hunter December elk hunts in units surrounding Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
Today it has.
The proposals for master hunter seasons are being posted on a separate Master Hunter web page.
The revised master hunter proposals were posted here, highlighted in yellow, this afternoon.
Agency managers explain:
“Our original proposal was to completely eliminate this hunt, but it was a big change and many local landowners supported continuing the opportunity. So we have changed our recommendation to retain two GMUs, antlerless only to address damage, and retain the same dates.
The revised master hunter proposal:
GMU 127 & 130, general antlerless only, season Dec.9-31.
HUNTING — A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plan to turn a prized December elk hunt for Master Hunters into a permit hunt is ruffling the feathers of sportsmen who had a lock on the land used by elk coming off Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
The plan is to use Master Hunters as on-call helpers to target elk causing damage to crops while developing a Landowner Hunting Permit Program to give more hunters access to the elk herd that must be kept from getting too large.
The Columbia Plateau Wildlife Management Association, which is being enlisted to help organize the landowners into this program, already has about six landowners and nearly 6,000 acres enrolled.
The agency, which is charged with protecting wildlife while providing the public with reasonable access to wildlife resources, already has changed a Master Hunter elk hunt in Western Washington that had become a trophy bull fest.
“Basically, we’re refocusing the program to have Master Hunters help the agency with damage problems rather than providing them with special hunts,” said Kevin Robinette, WDFW regional wildlife manager in Spokane.
It's not a done deal. The proposals have to be approved in Olympia and then by the Fish and Wildlife Commission in March
GET MORE DETAILS in today's Outdoors column.
Then stay tuned.
WILDLIFE – Today’s “Swan song” Outdoors feature in the Sunday Sports section tells the inspiring story of a senior swan at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
I dubbed him “Solo” when I wrote the 2002 column about the widower swan that kept returning to Turnbull without a mate.
But his perseverance paid off in 2009 when he finally bonded with a mate and sired the first hatch of cygnets on the refuge in 22 years. They repeated in 2010 with another brood.
Now it appears certain that Solo is gone. I’ve held off on the story since late January, working with refuge biologist Mike Rule to make certain that Solo didn’t show up as he has for about four decades.
A male trumpeter swan was found dead from lead poisoning nearby on Badger Lake in January. Rule does not think it was Solo, but he’s not sure. Unfortunately, the swan was not aged in the WSU necropsy.
Following is a long series of excerpts from my email correspondence with Rule, detailing the reasoning behind his belief that while Solo is gone, the legacy of his mate and offspring are alive and giving hope for a trumpeter swan future at Turnbull.
WATERFOWL — Ice-up has ushered the trumpeter swans out of Turnbull National Wildlife refuge to where ever they go during winter. Solo, the geriatric patriarch of his growing trumpeter family, departed the refuge with his mate and this year’s crop of five cygnets during Thanksgiving week, said Mike Rule, refuge biologist. Three yearling swans from last-year’s crop — the first brood at Turnbull in 22 years — also have left. This morning, only a small 20-yard diameter opening remained in the ice on Cheever Lake, one of the swans’ favorite hang-outs, Rule said. The trumpeters require around 50 yards or more of open water for a “runway” in order to take off and get their heavy bodies airborne. “I believe all wetlands on the refuge are now frozen over,” Rule said. Rule said he plans to capture some of the younger swans next year and fix them with colored collars that would encourage birders to report swan sightings. This would help end the mystery of where Solo has been wintering undetected for the 33-46 years that he’s been on the refuge, Rule said. Report swan sightings: “If your readers can be prompted to be on the look out, I would love to get notification of any sightings of swans this winter,” Rule said. Email Mike Rule. Include your contact information, a good location description that includes the name of body of water and nearest road intersection, the number of swans in the group and the presence and number of any juveniles (gray with pink bills).
WATERFOWL — Ice-up has ushered the trumpeter swans out of Turnbull National Wildlife refuge to where ever they go during winter.
Solo, the geriatric patriarch of his growing trumpeter family, departed the refuge with his mate and this year’s crop of five cygnets during Thanksgiving week, said Mike Rule, refuge biologist. Three yearling swans from last-year’s crop — the first brood at Turnbull in 22 years — also have left.
This morning, only a small 20-yard diameter opening remained in the ice on Cheever Lake, one of the swans’ favorite hang-outs, Rule said. The trumpeters require around 50 yards or more of open water for a “runway” in order to take off and get their heavy bodies airborne.
“I believe all wetlands on the refuge are now frozen over,” Rule said.
Rule said he plans to capture some of the younger swans next year and fix them with colored collars that would encourage birders to report swan sightings. This would help end the mystery of where Solo has been wintering undetected for the 33-46 years that he’s been on the refuge, Rule said.
Report swan sightings: “If your readers can be prompted to be on the look out, I would love to get notification of any sightings of swans this winter,” Rule said.
Email Mike Rule. Include your contact information, a good location description that includes the name of body of water and nearest road intersection, the number of swans in the group and the presence and number of any juveniles (gray with pink bills).