Sonoran Institute Open House Meeting

An amazing report entitled Evaluating Encroachment Pressures on the Military Mission in the California Desert has been released discussing encroachment issues caused by urban development; renewable energy; electrical transmission lines; extractive industries like mining; recreation; and natural resource management.

Interestingly, the report identifies the preservation of wilderness and other natural areas around military bases as a force for their future success in that urban development is excluded.

NAWS China Lake is one of the bases studied, and groundwater depletion is discussed as a local encroachment problem. Water as a resource needed for urban development is also mentioned as a source of conflict with military bases in other areas of water scarcity.

The study was done with the full cooperation of the military, and reported results have their approval.

The full report may be downloaded at . Tellingly, the title of the download is ProtectingCalDesertMilitary.

It is lengthy, but readable if you do not attempt to decipher the detailed maps. And it is very informative! (I would hope that presentations at the open houses to be held will have maps that are big enough to see.)

An open house meeting will be held in Ridgecrest from 3:00 to 4:30 PM on Thursday, June 29 in the Fossil Falls Room of the Kerr McGee Center, 100 W California Ave.

Another will be held the same day in Victorville, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at the Hilton Garden Inn, 12603 Mariposa Road.

Canebrake Reserve Open

The Canebrake Ecological Reserve Public Access Trail is open again after 
being closed for two or more years. It is a lovely place for a morning stroll. The paved, handicapped-accessible trail is not in the greatest of shape, so a wheelchair, while it probably could get through, might require an occasional push from a friend.

The entrance to the Public Access Trail trailhead parking area is located on the north (forest) side of highway 178, 4-5 miles east of 
the community of Onyx and a mile or so west of the community of 
Canebrake. An easy landmark is the large greenhouse visible about 1/4 mile back from the road, on the south side, across from the preserve parking entrance on the north.

Audubon Award-Winning Nature Photographs on Display AT Maturango Museum

Visit the Maturango Museum between July 13, 2017 and August 7, 2017 to walk among the winning bird photographs from this year’s Audubon Photography Awards.

A panel of five judges had the daunting task of sifting through over 7,000 submissions to select the winners of the 2016-2017 Audubon Nature Photography Contest. . The images were graded based on technical quality, originality, and artistic merit. The judges selected nine photographs to be winners and runners-up. These nine photos plus three others selected from the top 100 submissions are going to be on display at the Maturango Museum.

The National Audubon Society is circulating the photos to local chapters. Kerncrest Audubon and the Maturango Museum were lucky enough to be able to schedule a showing of these stunning photographs.

The museum is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM during the time the photos will be on exhibit.

Birdathon 2017

Was this the windiest the Kerncrest Birdathon has ever been? It would be interesting to know. I can remember days when the wind came up during the afternoon and blew whitecaps on the China Lake Ponds, but this year it blew all day.

Nevertheless, we saw 104 species of birds, in spite of the fact that our usual birder of the high local canyons did not participate.

The high count might have been in spite of the wind, or it might have been because of it. Or it could have been because the event was a week or two later than in years past.

Flycatcher species were up (almost certainly as a result of the late date), as were warblers (likely staying below the wind), with highlights being a Black-throated gray warbler and a Yellow-breasted Chat in Terri Middlemiss’s mulberry tree. Both were spotted/heard by Team Barnes.

Highlights for Team Sutton were a Green Heron and 2 late Canada Geese at the golf course.

Probably the strangest birds of the day were 2 Snowy Egrets spotted by the Bushtits on Highway 14 just south of the intersection with 178 from Inyokern. The poor birds were hunkered down on the ground, above a road cut on the west side of the highway, pointed into a fierce south wind. We hoped they would find their way to water when the wind let up.

Another phenomenon of this count was that Phainopepla were migrating through. Every team saw at least one.

A complete list may be found in the Chat. The Chat May 2017

Don’t forget to mail your contribution to PO Box 984, Ridgecrest CA 93556, or call any board member to pick it up.

Memorial for Shelley Ellis

A dedication of an interpretive panel and sharing of stories about Shelley will be held in Sand Canyon at 2 pm on Sunday, April 23rd. Later, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm there will be refreshments, more tributes to Shelley and sharing of her photographs at the Maturango Museum.

Bird-Friendly Coffee

The Burnetts were directed by a friend recently to Birds and Beans when our then bird-friendly organic coffee source went extinct. We have been delighted with their service and their coffee. At $23 for a really-2-pound bag, it is a reasonable price for 100% Arabica, gourmet coffee. And it is fresh! Birds & Beans roasts the coffee on-site, grinds it to order (or not) and ships it the next business day after roasting. All that and the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center certified bird habitat as well. Do visit their website at and order some coffee. If you are interested in forming a coffee club and ordering as a group, let any board member know.

The Cornell Lab Of Ornithology and our local conservation Partners Recommended Birds & Beans

Some of our most beloved Neotropical migrant songbirds – especially our thrushes, orioles, tanagers, and warblers — are suffering from loss of habitat when they fly south for the winter. One of the easiest things we can all do to support our migratory songbirds is to make sure that the coffee we buy comes from coffee farms that preserve bird habitat. Birds & Beans is certified by the best in the business, and makes it easy to be confident that the coffee we drink is also providing habitat for birds.”

— John W. Fitzpatrick, Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Thank You from the Poo-Poo Project

Kerncrest Audubon received a thank you card pictured above from the folks at the Poo-Poo Project. The thank you was for purchasing 10 Poo-Poo screens for the Sequoia National Forest to cover the large open vent pipes in vault toilets. This is closely aligned with the work we have done to cap open pipes and mining claim “posts”. Open pipes are death traps for cavity nesting birds.

The Long-eared Owl pictured above looks mad and probably was mad because it had just been fished out of a sewage-holding tank under an outhouse. It was lucky. Most birds that get trapped in these “Vault-Toilets” struggle to get free but can’t and die there. All the vault toilet vent pipes in the Sequoia National Forest, we have been told, are now screened over so birds can’t get trapped in the vaults. These ten screens were the last ones needed to complete the local effort.

Good news!! Wetlands protected!

From Bob Barnes:

“HSVW ACQUISITION COMPLETED! As of this afternoon, [Feb 2] the Kern River Valley Heritage Foundation … is owner of the 189.26 acre Hot Springs Valley Wetlands Project property at the

edge of the community of Lake Isabella. THANK YOU to hundreds of grassroots donors (including many, many of you), Audubon California, and California Department of Natural Resources for funding acquisition, and to The Trust for Public Land for facilitating the purchase.”

From Alex Size, the person at the Trust for Public Land who really did a lot of the work on this project by facilitating the complicated process:

“As of this afternoon, the Kern River Valley Heritage Foundation is the proud new owner of 189 beautiful acres of California land.  Congratulations!!!  You should all be very proud of yourselves and all the blood, sweat and tears you put into preserving this property.  Now comes the fun part…restoration!

“I feel honored to have played a small role in helping you guys achieve this dream.  I hope you all take some time off to reflect on this accomplishment and what it will mean for the critters and people who will enjoy this land for generations to come.  A job well done indeed.”

And from The Chat Editor: Even though all we did was write letters and submit the application for the Audubon Wimberley Foundation grant for $100,000 for this project, I feel happy and proud for Kerncrest to have been part of it. Thank you to all our members who contributed! Do visit and click on Hot Springs Valley Wetlands to see a complete description of the program and grass roots funding.