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The Valley Habitat

November 2013
A Joint Publication of the Stanislaus Audubon Society and the Yokuts Group of the Sierra Club

Stanislaus Audubon / Yokuts Group Sierra Club Program 7p.m. Friday November 15, 2013

Ed Pandolfino: Birds of the Sierra Nevada

Ed will take you on a virtual transect of the range from the oak savanna in the west, through serene conifer forests of the west side, up into the majestic alpine regions, and down the steep eastern escarpment to the pinyon/ juniper woodlands and open steppes of the Great Basin. Along the way we'll see and hear the stunning diversity of birds that make the Sierra their home. We'll learn about which birds are in decline and which are expanding and increasing. We'll address some mysteries surrounding some of those species and discuss how birders can help to solve them.
College Avenue Congregational Church 1341 College Avenue Refreshments and socializing begin at 6:45 p.m. and the meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. Non-members are always welcome! The program is free and open to the public.

Navigating Life in the Slow Lane

--View from the Chair - Anita Young, Chair, Yokuts Group of the Sierra Club

A recent job transfer resulted in a change in my commuting habits, from bicycling or walking the 1.25 miles to work to having to figure out how to travel 6.5 miles without buying another family car. After trying cycling the entire distance, then combining the MAX bus with cycling, I had to decide that spending nearly 2 hours each day to travel 13 miles just did not fit my lifestyle needs. Another car was bought, an Avalon hybrid, not for my short commute, however. So we are now a 3-car, 3-adult family. This experience made me think about how people move through space, and how the 3 people I know who live or have lived without a car managed to work out the details. Don lived 15 years without a car, starting when he left the car capitol of the world, Los Angeles, for the greener life in Modesto and ultimately Arcata. Maryann gave hers up two years ago to spend her money on other things. Steve was forced by DMV to surrender his license due to impaired vision. Don is an example of choosing a lifestyle that

did not involved an automobile. He was an "air quality refugee" when he moved to Modesto from LA. He started reading Auto Free Times, which is published in Arcata, and when he moved there for graduate school he become friends with the founder of the Alliance for a Paving Moratorium. Don "divorced" his car on St. Patrick's Day in 1997, going from an asphalt cloverleaf to a green cloverleaf. His 15 years of living car-free included 12 months of traveling strictly by bicycle or walking. Of course there were inconveniences to surmount, including the assumptions others made about his transportation choices. He recalled a potential employer questioning whether he would be a fit employee, believing his choice to remain car-free hid a bad driving record. The weather also played havoc since Don is not a fan of wearing heavy rain gear in a storm. On the positive side, his healthy heart and excellent blood numbers are the envy of the medical world, a result of integrating transportation with exercise. Maryann decided that saving $600 a month by giving up her car was a smart choice. She has been carfree for two years and while she is now better able to afford to buy a car, has decided to remain car-free. (Continued on page 6)

Valley Habitat 1

Stanislaus Audubon Society

RECENT SIGHTINGS OF RARE OR UNCOMMON BIRDS STANISLAUS COUNTY On September 8, Harold Reeve and other observers had a MARBLED GODWIT at the Modesto Water Quality Treatment Facility. During the next survey at that facility on September 22, John Harris and other observers saw a juvenile SABINES GULL. Ralph Baker and other participants of an Audubon field trip had a single VAUXS SWIFT at the San Joaquin River N.W.R. on September 15. Sal Salerno had a PECTORAL SANDPIPER on September 23 at the Ceres Water Reclamation Facility. At sunset on October 10, Harold Reeve observed a flock of nearly 200 VAUXS SWIFTS circling over a residential neighborhood in Ceres. After fifteen minutes, the flock disappeared behind a retirement center. Although Harold did not see exactly where they descended, swifts are known to roost inside chimneys during migration.

Sabine's Gull at the Modesto Secondary Wastewater Facility Jim Gain


Stanislaus Audubon Society is still collecting email addresses from those who wish to receive Valley Habitat online. You can email with Online Newsletter as the subject. Put your membership name in the body of the text WITH YOUR POSTAL ZIP CODE. NOTE: If you are receiving a mailed copy as well as an online one, please email Jim Gain and John Harris. It may be that you are receiving duplicates because you are also a member of Sierra Club, in which case you would notify Anita Young. Valley Habitat 2

Stanislaus Audubon Society

Since Ive been told a few times that I have a decent ear for birds, those remarks are eventually worthy of reflection. I suppose it is a knack, though I prefer the Romantic notion of a gift as something innate, having nothing to do with ego. Then there is the question of what to do with a gift hide it and seldom use it, or nourish it and share it with others? Since my joy in listening to birds overflows my capacity to contain it, Id like to share some principles that could help you become a more skillful ear birder. FLIP THE SWITCHES. All who have functioning ears can hear. If illness or injury has compromised that function, excellent hearing aids are available. Hearing is a passive sense that takes in all sounds, but it is culturally conditioned to engage in human voices. True listening, however, is an active act of focusing attention on specific sounds in our environment. Bernard Krause, the pioneer of recording soundscapes, has defined the types of sounds in the world. Anthrophony comprises human voices and other humaninduced sounds; geophony includes sounds make by natural elements such as wind and water; biophony is the collective sound that all non-human living creatures make, including those of birds. When you want to practice ear birding, you can first flip a mental switch from hearing to listening, and then flip another by Salvatore Salerno rough mimicry can help boost your memory and identify those birds. HIT THE BOOKS. You should study the vocalization cues found in field guides, just as you do with visual field marks. Abstract musical notes of birds are notoriously difficult to transcribe, but their descriptions can be helpful; Kenn Kaufmann writes the Gray-Cheeked Thrushs song as breathy, nasal whistles descending, veeyer, vede veer, du veer. Mnemonic devices can be useful, too, such as the quickthree-beers of an Olive-sided Flycatcher. The sputtering of a Marsh Wren sound to me like the ignition of a cold car trying to turn over. I also recommend that you take a notebook in the field and record a sonar gram of the bird sounds that you hear. The sketch might consist of dots and dashes, or if you are musically trained, something like musical notation. If you prefer words, then answer questions about the features of sound. Was the pitch high or low, ascending or descending? Was the quality clear or buzzy? Was the rhythm fast or slow? How long was the song, how long the intervals between calls? Use whatever works best for you. There are innumerable Internet audio applications available for further study of the calls and songs of birds. Choose a few (Continued on page 4) Valley Habitat 3 switch, from all sounds to only those that birds make in the biophony. Every sound has a source. Although at first you may not be able to recognize which bird is vocalizing, at least you will know approximately where a bird is, and make the hunt from there. HIT THE TRAILS. Once youre in the listening zone, you can sort out one bird call from another. The best way to memorize different species is to visit the same habitat repeatedly and spot birds as they are vocalizing. Once you have a Bewicks Wren perched and singing, concentrate your eyes and ears together to absorb the experience. Once you have taken in the image and the sound of a Spotted Towhee a dozen times, the next time you hear that bird, you wont need use your eyes to know what you have. There is another technique I find useful. Remember Doctor Doolittle from the British musical? In one number, Doolittle sings, If we could walk with the animals, talk with the animals / They could squeak and squawk and speak and talk with us. Now and then, when a bird is vocalizing, I attempt to whistle an approximation of that sound. Try it yourself. Curiosity is often a biological compulsion, so even if you are off key, that bird, or another one, will appear long enough for you to see it. I dont recommend you do this too often in breeding season to minimize disturbing their activities, but an occasional

Stanislaus Audubon Society

November 17 and January 19, San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge is huge and offers the most diverse habitats in the area, including mixed species transitional savannas, riparian forest, oak woodlands, grassland, and seasonal wetlands. Trip leader, Bill Amundsen ( 521-8256,, chooses the particular habitats to visit each month based on conditions and season. Meet at the Stanislaus Library parking lot at 1500 I Street. at 7:00 a.m. We'll be back early afternoon. November 9, Consumes River Preserve. Near Lodi. If you count on one hand the best birding sites in Northern California, this would be one of the fingers. Especially at this time of the year as the wintering birds have all settled in. It has excellent wetlands which are managed especially for birders and make you easily accessible to the birds. There are also a number of other wonderful habitats, all also easily accessible. Leader, Dan Gilman, 765-9481, Meet at the Stanislaus Library parking lot at 1500 I Street at 7:00 a.m. We'll be back mid afternoon. December 7, Eastern Stanislaus County. We'll bird along Cooperstown and other roads in the east county, targeting particularly the many species of raptors that frequent that area in the winter. It will be your best chance of the year to see Bald Eagle, for instance. Trip leader, Dave Froba 521-7265, Meet at the Stanislaus Library parking lot at 1500 I Street at 7:00 a.m. We'll be back early afternoon. January 25, Merced National Wildlife Refuge. Trip leader TBA, Contact Dave Froba, 521-7265, In the winter this magnificent refuge attracts waterfowl, shore birds, and others, in the millions. Meet at the Stanislaus Library parking lot at 1500 I Street mid afternoon.

Audubon Field Trip Email List If you would like to be on a group email to advise you of all Audubon field trips, please email: Dave Froba at Stanislaus Audubon Society
Board of Directors: Bill Amundsen, Ralph Baker, Eric Caine, Lori Franzman, Jody Hallstrom, David Froba, Jim Gain, Daniel Gilman, John Harris, Harold Reeve, Salvatore Salerno. Officers & Committee Chairs President: Sal Salerno 985-1232 (

Vice President: Eric Caine 968-1302 ( Treasurer: David Froba Secretary: John Harris Membership: Revolving San Joaquin River Refuge Field Trips: Bill Amundsen 521-8256 ( Other Field Trips: David Froba 521-7265 ( Christmas Bird Counts Coordinator; Secretary, Stanislaus Birds Records Committee:
Harold Reeve 538-0885

521-7265 ( 848-1518 (

THE ARTFUL SKILL OF LISTENING (Continued from page 3)

and review them when you are not in the field. Sometimes when I go on long drives, I listen to Bird Songs of California from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, to refresh my memory on flycatchers and warblers. Memorizing the diverse songs and calls of birds seems daunting, but you shouldnt undervalue your brains agility for learning, storing and retrieving simple information. It is no more difficult to remember the song of a California Thrasher than it is to remember several phrases of a foreign language. Just think of some skill that you once thought impossible at first, and then only difficult, and then over time quite easy to do. Its like that. The road to success is paved with preparation and perseverance. Even if this skill doesnt come naturally, you can improve with practice. So take some time to turn on the switches, tune in to the frequencies, and listen deeply to the cryptic music of birds.

How to Join Audubon To become a member of the National Audubon Society, which entitles you to receive Valley Habitat and Audubon Magazine, send your check for $20.00 to: National Audubon Society Membership Data Center P.O. Box 422250 Palm Coast, FL 32142 Visit our web site:

Valley Habitat 4

Yokuts Group of the Sierra Club

Saturday, Nov 2nd Dayhike 2B Annual Yokuts end-of-daylightsavings-time hike: Tenaya Lake to Polly Dome Lakes and beyond (postponed in fall 2012 due to weather). The hike will be loop of approximately 10 miles total, with about 2 miles of off-trail hiking. The off-trail section will be along Cathedral Creek and will take us back across Tioga Pass Rd to the trail paralleling the road west to Tenaya Lake. Elev gain = about 1,000 feet. For further information, including the meetup time and place, please contact Yokuts trip leader Randall Brown at 209 632-5994. Recycle
Recycle receptacles will be at the November 15 program to capture your contributions of used household batteries, used CFL Lightbulbs, old eyeglasses, and old cellphones. Lets all do our bit to keep hazardous stuff out of the trash. Eyeglasses are turned in to The Lions Club for distribution to those who can use them. Used Cellphones are converted to Telephone Calling Cards for overseas military personnel. If you have too many magazines and books, you can bring those, too. They are distributed to local homebound Veterans.

Here is an interesting article about utility companies versus the move to solar: Are Utility Companies Out to Destroy Solar's 'Rooftop Revolution'?

Salmon Festival, Saturday October 26, 2013 This year's Stanislaus River Salmon Festival to be held on Saturday, October 26 from 10am-3pm at the Knights Ferry Recreation Area, now open again after the shut-down. There are lots of events taking place including live music, live river critters, fish print Tshirts and more. The event is free to attend and will emphasize exhibitors providng interactive, educational, kid-focused activities. Yokuts will have a booth there with activities
Modesto Area Partners in Science (MAPS) Presentation: "Wildfires in the West" Sierra Club members at showing of film: Mother, Caring for 7 Billion at Modesto Junior College, Oct. 10. Yokuts Management Committee, Population Chair - Milt Trieweiler, center.

Friday, November 22, 2013 MJC MSR West Campus 7:30 p.m. Presenter: Antony Westerling All events are open to the public and admission in free! Please join us!

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Yokuts Group of the Sierra Club

Navigating Life in the Slow Lane
(Continued from page 1)
She enjoys being outdoors, watching birds during the changing seasons, seeing the cityscape differently from two wheels, and noticing the people in the neighborhoods she cycles through. She feels people are generally kind to her as an older cyclist. While not owning a car has curtailed her social life somewhat, she makes arrangements for rides as needed, and confided she is able to miss some meetings because she isn't driving. She has arranged her life so she can ride and live without a car. And her improved fitness makes hiking and other outdoor activity much easier. Steve has made the most of a situation he did not choose, losing his license because the DMV ruled against him in what he thinks of as a marginal case. He has had to travel various distances for work until his recent retirement and has used a combination of electric bike, bicycle, walking and public transit. He favors using Amtrak to get from city to city, where possible. Like Maryann, Steve has come to appreciate being out of doors and generally prefers walking within Modesto. He pointed out that having an electric bicycle serviced here is difficult and for him biking usually means staying on quieter residential streets. He owns and quotes from the book, How To Live Well without Owning a Car, by Chris Balish, which recommends staking your claim on your share of the road rather that hugging the curb and weaving around parked cars, for a safer ride. Having to depend on an automobile does not make me happy, and I miss my former 12 minute bike ride to work, but as long as the weather stays nice, and until the darkness takes over during my evening commute, I will continue to bus/bike to work at least once a week to my new job. It's good for my health and its good for the environment. Maybe I can use the extra time for knitting on the bus.

Yokuts Group Election Official Ballot

Bring to the November 15, 2013 Program Meeting
(At College Avenue Congregational Church 1341

College Avenue, refreshments and socializing begin at 6:45 p.m. and the meeting starts at 7:00) Or Mail by November 30, 2013 to Yokuts Group, Mother Lode Chapter, Sierra Club P.O. Box 855, Modesto, CA 95353 Co-Chair Anita Young __________________ Candy Klaschus __________________ Or write-in Conservation Brad Barker Or write-in Vice-Chair Write-in ___________________

___________________ ____________________


Nominating Committee Members: Maryann Hight, Steve Tomlinson and Nancy Jewett

Online Valley Habitat for Yokuts Yokuts Group of the Sierra Club members who want to receive the color version of the Valley Habitat online can sent an email to this address to opt-in: Type SUBSCRIBE MOTHERLODE-YOKUTS-NEWS first name last name in the body of the mesage. Valley Habitat 6

Yokuts Group of the Sierra Club

Sierra Club Membership Enrollment Form
Yes, I want to be a member of the Sierra Club! Yes, I want to give a gift membership! ______________________________________________________________________

Yokuts Sierra Club Joins Meetup

The Yokuts Sierra Club group, along with the Delta Sierra and Tuolumne groups have formed a StocktonModesto-Sonora Meetup group that includes Sierra Club outings and events. Its easy and free to join this Meetup, just go to the link below and sign up. Its not necessary to be a Sierra Club member to join. Once you sign up, you will automatically be sent announcements of new and upcoming Meetup events. Join the fun and get active in the Sierra Club.


ADRESS ______________________________________________________________ CITY STATE ZIP ______________________________________________________________

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From time to time, we make our mailing list available to other worthy organizations. If you prefer your name not be included, please check here.

Yokuts Group of the Sierra Club Management Committee

Chair Treasurer Secretary Programs Conservation Membership Hospitality Anita Young 529-2300 ( Steve Tomlinson 544-1617 (steve.tomlinson97@gmail,com) Maryann Hight 417-9114 ( Linda Lagace 863-9137 ( Brad Barker 526-5281 ( Anita Young 529-2300 ( Candy Klaschus 632-5473 ( Dorothy Griggs 549-9155 ( Randall Brown 632-5994 ( Nancy Jewett 664-9422 ( Kathy Weise 545-5948 ( Milt Trieweiler 535-1274 ( Leonard Choate 524-3659 Jason Tyree (


Special offer $15 Regular $39 Supporting $75 Contributing $150 Life $1000 Senior $25 Student $25 Limited Income $25 $49 $100 $175 $1250 $35 $35 $35

Link to the Yokuts WebYokuts Group F94QN09051

Contributions, gifts and dues to the Sierra Club are not tax-deductible; they support our effective, citizen-based advocacy and lobbying efforts. Your dues include $7.50 for a subscription to SIERRA magazine and $1 for your Chapter newsletter.


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_____________________________________________________________________ SIGNATURE GIFT MEMBERSHIP: A gift card will be sent for your use. Enter your name and address below and the name and address of the gift recipient above. _____________________________________________________________________ YOUR NAME(S) _____________________________________________________________________ ADDRESS ______________________________________________________________________ CITY STATE ZIP ______________________________________________________________________ TELEPHONE (optional) EMAIL (optional) Enclose payment information and mail to: P.O. Box 421041, Palm Coast, FL 32142-1041

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Valley Habitat 7

Yokuts Group Mother Lode Chapter Sierra Club P.O. Box 855 Modesto, CA 95353

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Modesto, CA Permit No. 139


Holiday Greetings!!
Come and join us for the The Yokuts Holiday Open House 7 pm ?? pm on the 13th of December. The party is held 5424 Nanette Dr., Salida. Please call 545-5948 or 601-8660 for directions if you like.
It is a fun evening and a great way to meet your fellow members! The party is very casual with everyone contributing with a special snack or dessert. We will have coffee, tea, cider and usually there are bottles of wine to share. We have a special raffle of donated baskets and always lots of great food. Plan on joining your fellow Sierra Club members for a bit of Holiday Cheer! Hope to see you all there! Kathy Weise

The Valley Habitat

November 2013