Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Miss The Birding Information At The New Kiosk Near The Center For Urban Horticulture

The Montlake Fill, a natural reserve and haven for birds and wildlife near the Center for Urban Horticulture, recently has had a whiteboard installed where new and interesting information about the birds and other wildlife is put up almost daily.

And the person who maintains this kiosk and faithfully puts up the information nearly every day is Connie Sidles, a Seattle Audubon Society Board member and master birder with more than 600 North American birds on her life list. She has led several trips for Seattle Audubon Society and currently serves as chair of Seattle Audubon’s Publications Committee.

In her email to us, she tells us that the whiteboard is located at the eastern start of Wahkiakum Lane, Union Bay Natural Area also know as the Montlake Fill. Here is a map of the area.

Connie lists something new on the whiteboard nearly every day, including:
• a Bird Alert, letting people know about the rarities showing up almost daily at the Fill
• a running total and list of all the bird species seen this year (currently 135)
• a story and photo about the birds' doings at the Fill

"The kiosk was paid for in part by donations from people in the community, and I think they would love to know their money was well spent. The idea of the whiteboard is to provide the neighborhood with a kind of gossip sheet about what the feathered and furred individuals at the Fill are up to," Connie says.

She says that anyone can post on the whiteboard.  You just need to check out keys at the faclities window (located on the opposite side of the hallway where the entrance to the Elisabeth C. Miller Library is located) when the building is open. The kiosk is locked to prevent vandalism.

Connie is actively looking for someone knowledgeable about plants who can help her post "the occasional vignette about what the plants there are up to" on the whiteboard as well.

Connie also maintains a very fun to read blog with beautiful pictures of the many types of birds at the Fill and lively essays, many written from the perspective of a particular bird which are also posted on the whiteboard at the Montlake Fill,. There is also a running list of species and daily updates that are handwritten by birders who spot various species.
Here is a post from a July 19th entry on her blog from the voice of a bird. The picture of the bird is posted at the top:
I am not a bird. I cannot fly or sing like a bird. I do not molt or migrate. When my grown children ask to come home for a while to roost, I do not peck or drive them away, as the eagles do. On the contrary, I love having my kids come back. Maybe I’m a colony bird, like the Double-crested Cormorant? No. No feathers. Do the birds know I am not one of them? That’s a bit hard to answer. On the one hand, many of the birds at the Fill are wary of me.  The Mallards who are flocking on Main Pond now that breeding season is ending have allowed me to join their flock. Whenever I set up my camp stool at the southern lookout point, the Mallards begin to float over from the far shore. It’s amazingly comforting to be in a flock. Like any functional community, the members watch out for each other. They pay attention to what each one is doing. They’re interested in what everyone has to say. They don’t always get along perfectly – sometimes they give each other a peck or even chase each other. But they accept each other, too. They belong. When was the last time you felt you belonged? For me, that happens every day. I belong at the Fill.
In addition to her maintenance of the kiosk and lively blog entries, Connie also operates her own production company, has written over 550 feature articles for over 65 different publications and has written 4 print production and design books.

Her latest book, In My Nature, contains 32 essays covering four seasons of the year describing vividly Connie's experiences and thoughts at the Montlake Fill and the relationship between wild nature and human nature.

The description of the book on her website says: "The birds she finds here (at the Fill) teach her to forget time. To leave worries behind. To experience joy. To find a refuge that gives peace of mind and a respite from the stresses of a fast-paced world."

Please contact us at if you are interested in helping with posting information about plants at the kiosk or would like further information and we will connect you with Connie.

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