2004 Annual Conference — Moscow/Pullman
by Brian Bell
We are back from the WOS Annual
Conference in Moscow, Idaho and we saw
the Palouse region at its very best. All the
folks I talked to agreed the conference was
a great success.
The Friday field trips went
well, with many excellent birds being
observed in spite of high temperatures.
Most of the trips managed to find their
target species, and the people on the Snake
River Hells Canyon boat trip all came back
with high praises. These Friday trips were
extremely popular with most of them filling
up quickly. We will certainly continue the
Our Friday evening speaker was Dr. Kas
Dumrose a plant biologist with the U.S.
Forest Service in Moscow, one of the
authors of the ABA Birdfinding Guide to
Idaho, and the person in charge of the
Northern Idaho/Eastern Washington rare
bird alert. In talking with him before the
presentation, Kas made the comment that
he had really enjoyed preparing his talk as
he had learned much new information. This
transmitted to his talk as he gave us a great
overview of the Palouse area including the
geologic setting and history, some of the
historic influences on the region, and some
of the problems the area faces. Kas is a
most entertaining and informative speaker,
and folks were commenting all weekend
that it really changed how they looked at
the Palouse as they went on their field trips.
Saturday's trips were again successful,
although some of them had to dodge the rain
showers that moved through the area, but that
did drop the temperatures. Having gone onthe Saturday Hells Canyon trip I can agree with Friday’s assessment - this
is a trip well worth going on. WOS was very fortunate in the drivers
assigned to our trips as both were extremely knowledgeable, good
observers and took us where we wanted to go.
As the trips returned and the
leaders toted up our conference birds through the end of Saturday (with
Sunday still to go), we had observed over 180 species, and I believe we
may have added a few on Sunday.
Final accounting is still underway, and
we will let everyone know the final totals (and post them on the website).
As always, we had a number of surprise observations and some regrettable
misses, but this was definitely a “birdy” weekend.
We had a good open Board meeting before our Saturday evening
festivities, and a number of members sat in and made good suggestions as
we began the process of debating when and where to hold the next WOS
conference (on the west side of the state).
As usual, people really enjoyed the social time together before the
beginning of “official” activities. This is always a great time to meet those
old friends, to hash over the day’s sightings with new friends, and to relax
after a busy day.
Our speaker at the banquet was Dr. Erik Stauber, the director of the Raptor
Rehabilitation Center at WSU. Erik has spoken and presented raptors to
many groups including schools and the general public. He confessed
before the meeting that he was a little nervous about appearing before a
large group of birder/ornithologists who might know more about the
raptors than he did. He didn’t need to worry, he displayed his excellent
knowledge in a most effective way. For us, he brought ten raptors,
including owls, that he and his assistants discussed and circulated
throughout the banquet room for close views (red-tailed hawk, roughlegged
hawk, ferruginous hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, American kestrel,
great horned owl, barred owl, barn owl, and saw-whet owl). It was truly a
stirring experience to be able to see these birds “up close and personal.”
Sunday, many of our folks took part in the “on the way home” trips, while
others went on local trips that returned to the conference site before
departing for home. The reports were that these trips were also enjoyed by
everyone. A number of people stayed over an extra day so that they could
recover from all the activities and also do some birding on the way back to
their home areas.
The University Inn in Moscow was an excellent host, providing us with a
comfortable site for our meetings, meeting our needs at the conference
promptly, and just being nice folks.
I can’t say enough about the help we
received from Diane and Tom Weber and the other people from Palouse
Audubon. They made all the local arrangements, pulled together the
excellent field trip leaders, and set the stage for a great conference. Tom
told us that the leaders were eager to lead the trips to some of their favorite
spots and show the birds to all us folks who didn’t realize what a rich
resource there is in the Palouse.
To everyone who attended, we thank you for coming and making this a
successful conference and we hope to see you at the next conference.
those who couldn’t attend this year, we hope to see you at future
conferences or at our monthly meetings or regularly scheduled field trips!