By Sharon Wootton Herald Columnist
Soaring raptors and gliding gulls are my Achilles’ heels when it comes to bird identification. It’s small comfort, but I am in a large group of bird-watchers.
But there’s hope, at least in the hawk category.
If you’re interested in hawks, including identification and raptor biology, check out a North Cascades Institute field trip to the Chelan Ridge Hawk Watch Station Sept. 22 and 23.
The ridge is above Lake Chelan, and it is one of the best places in the state to watch hawks as they head to winter territories.
The outing is a chance to work as a team with biologists from the institute, the U.S. Forest Service and HawkWatch International to gather data and learn more about hawks, as well as to explore the ridge and camp out.
Tuition is $140. For more information, go to ncascades.org/, call 360-854-2599 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walking: The popular one-hour Elwha Discovery Walks at the former Lake Aldwell will continue through the end of the month. The walks are at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
The interpretive program is led by rangers through a changing landscape created by the river following the removal of the Elwha Dam.
For more information, go to Olympic National Park at www.nps.gov or call the Elwha Ranger Station at 360-452-9191.
It’s open: Bikers can now use the new 1.4-mile East Tiger Summit Mountain Bike Trail in Tiger Mountain State Forest, the first new bike trail on the mountain in 20 years. It’s scheduled to close for the winter on Oct. 15. The trailhead is at the summit on Highway 18.
Now closed: Potential rock falls have closed a section of Narada Falls at Mount Rainier National Park at least through Sept. 21. The hazard is due to major roadwork on Stevens Canyon Road above this section of the trail.
The 19-mile Stevens Canyon Road is the scenic east-west route though the park. Work on the two-year rehabilitation project will continue until the road closes for the winter.
Also at Mount Rainier, Laughingwater Creek Trail, in the southeast corner of the park, has been temporarily closed because of the possibility of dangerous wildlife encounters. The closure will last through at least Wednesday.
Officials closed the trail after potential dangerous wildlife encounters were created when a pack animal died. The carcass has been moved off the road but might attract bears or mountain lions, according to park officials.
The popular Mount Ellinor Trail in Olympic National Park remains closed as rangers continue to harass mountain goats into better behavior towards humans.
For years hikers have thought it was a good idea to feed the goats. It’s not only bad for the goats’ diet, they became more aggressive in their search for handouts.
Rangers are using paintballs, rocks and noise to discourage them from approaching hikers, park officials said.
An aggressive mountain goat is not cute. In October 2010, on another trail, one gored a hiker, who later died.
For more information, contact the park visitor center at 360-565-3130.
Funded: A $1 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Washington and Oregon will fund a project to improve the population status of 21 rare or declining species in the Puget Trough and Willamette Valley. The species are associated with prairie oak habitats.
Protected: The Franciscan manzanita is now protected under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to designate 318 acres as critical habitat in and around San Francisco.
The last known evergreen shrub was discovered in 2009 and transplanted for its protection, according to www.sciencedaily.com.
Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.