From Frogs, Logs, Dogs, Slogs, Bogs, Hogs, and Pollywogs - It's the Methow Conservancy Blog!
Occasional posts - from the quirky to the momentous - on the life and times of the Methow Conservancy.
(What you won't find in E-News)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

...and a Partridge in a Chokecherry Tree

by Mary Kiesau, naturalist-in-training

Winter is here, and while there isn't a ton of snow, what has been abundant lately are wildlife sightings.  Maybe the snow makes creatures easier to see -- a tawny brown coyote crossing a field of white is much easier to spot than one in a sea of dead grass and weeds.  Maybe some animals are spending more time lower in elevation now.  Or maybe, some folks have just been lucky!

These blog photos all started a few weeks ago when co-worker Jeanne White came in asking for help in identifying an interesting looking bird she had seen several times on Lewis Butte.  At first, I thought she was perhaps seeing Harrier Hawks, but after a quiz of characteristics, we determined that she was seeing Short-Eared Owls (Asio flammeus).  And, what do you know...  the Sibley guide says, "can be confused with Northern Harrier."  These owls are in the Valley year-round, hanging out in the shrub-steppe or agricultural fields, searching for rodents.  And while they are often out in the daytime, they are really not commonly seen.  The sighting was interesting enough that local naturalist Dana Visalli went out in search of them after hearing from us.  He came back with this photo.

Jeanne was on a wildlife roll when right after the owls she saw a bobcat (Lynx rufus)on the side of the road eating a dead deer (most likely road-kill).  Bobcats are closely related to Lynx and look very similar but there are some key differences in appearance.  Bobcats are about twice the size of a house cat, whereas lynx are quite a bit bigger.  Both cats have distinctive ear tufts but a bobcat's are relatively small whereas a lynx's are clearly long.  Bobcats tend to have mottled, pattern fur that is often tones of brown, and a lynx is typically more gray with little to no patterns.  A track in the snow is the dead give away though.  Lynx practically have snowshoes on their feet - there is so much fur that toe pads typically don't show and the size can be up to 5.5 inches by 5.5 inches.  Bobcat tracks are much smaller - up to 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches - and you can almost always make out the four toes.

One week later (last week), local naturalists Victor Glick and Libby Schreiner were out on one of their daily wildlife jaunts and guess what they came across(!).  A cougar (Puma concolor) and a pine marten (Martes americana!)  Those lucky dogs.  And, lucky for us they got some pretty great photos too.

The partridge, you ask?  Yes, friends in the Rendezvous just reported seeing flocks of gray partridges.  Here's a picture from Wikipedia.

From all of us at the Methow Conservancy, we hope you are finding festive and active ways to enjoy these long, dark days around the Winter Solstice.  If these sightings are any indication, there's a lot going on out there in our wintery world!  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thanks for Giving!

By Sarah Brooks, Associate Director (aka Chief Gratitude Officer)

Our Leave a Legacy Tree, with each
leaf representing a donor's gift.
Thanksgiving….one of my favorite holidays of the year.  It’s relatively non-commercial, offers a chance to spend a day cooking with people I like, and all in all we are happy, unrushed, and nice to each other.  For most, it is a time to give thanks and pause in otherwise busy lives. 

As someone who spends my career focused on helping raise funds to support causes I care deeply about, the Thanksgiving time for me is not just about giving thanks but also about being thankful for giving.  The spirit of giving is alive and well in our country (and definitely in our neck of the woods), and I make a conscious effort in December to take a moment each day to remind myself just how amazing the American giving spirit is.

According to the GivingUSA 2011 Report, individuals in our country gave more than $211 billion in 2010 to nonprofit causes they care about.  Those rates held relatively steady even in the midst of a long economic downturn.  And, while I know of no official report on volunteer hours, all of us involved with the nonprofit sector know that the “giving” spirit reaches beyond the financial to incredible gifts of time, wisdom, and inspiration. 

The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s are an especially appropriate time to give thanks for giving.  I read recently that most nonprofits raise almost one-third of their donations from individuals during December.  It is certainly true here at the Methow Conservancy that November through early January results in our largest surge of donations – for which we are incredibly thankful. 

It can be all too easy in December, then, as a fundraiser to get too focused on whether or not we’ll meet our goals or our budget.  This year, I’m making an extra conscious effort to face the weeks post-turkey dinner with a different lens.  This year, I’m in awe.

Our whole staff shares a commitment to our mission of
inspiring people to care for the land of the Methow Valley.
I’m in awe at the trust that all this giving of time, money, and expertise represents.  I know that when I open an envelope with a donation to the Methow Conservancy that what I am really seeing is a family’s trust that we will make their hopes for the Methow Valley come true. Giving is an expression of one’s values and an implicit expectation that we will know how to turn that donation into lasting land protection in the Methow Valley resulting in productive farmland, open spaces, scenic views, wildlife habitat and a community that cares for the land for generations to come.  We take that responsibility seriously here at the Methow Conservancy and we do see each gift – of money, volunteer time, or expertise – as a sign of trust and a belief in our ability to make an impact.

In 2012, I hope we can find more ways to hear from all of you to understand your hopes and dreams for the Methow and to make sure that our efforts continue to have the impact you all envision. 

The week before Thanksgiving, I attended the National Philanthropy Day celebration at the Westin Hotel in Seattle.  It was incredibly humbling and uplifiting to be in a room of more than 800 people who choose to change the world by either working for or supporting the efforts of nonprofits.  This year, I’m personally declaring every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Philanthropy Day as I pause to be grateful for the incredible giving spirit that sustains not only our work here at the Methow Conservancy but our mission.  Thanks for the trust.

Sarah celebrating the joy of giving!
-- Sarah