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Bird Call

Pickering Creek Audubon Center Volunteer E-News     
January/February 2012 Edition

Volunteer Highlights

Waterfowl Festival
Eleven of Pickering Creek’s Junior Naturalists and ten adult volunteers (including Board members and staff) greeted over 1400 visitors at our booth in the Moton Elementary School over the three days of the Waterfowl Festival.  We had the opportunity to talk with attendees about the Center—its trails that are open daily from dawn to dusk, its public programs and those that serve the Talbot County School System (and other schools, as well), and provided activities for youngsters: the chance to meet a box turtle, explore items on a touch table, listen to bird-calls, and measure wingspans.  Always on the lookout for opportunities to spread the word about Pickering Creek, the Festival is a great place to do it! 



Ecology Classroom Rehabilitation

When Tony Passarella, an 11-year veteran of Habitat for Humanity’s building projects, joined Pickering Creek’s Board of Trustees, he expressed a desire to serve on the Building and Grounds Committee.  So John Bayliss, Chair of the Committee, gave him a challenge, putting him in charge of the renovation of the Ecology Classroom with the goal of changing one bathroom into an ADA compliant facility. 


Tony looked the job over.  “Didn’t look like it would be too hard,” he recalls.  So he drew up a set of plans on how it could be done with help from fellow volunteers of Habitat for Humanity Choptank Thursday’s crew. John Bayliss was supportive and let Tony take on oversight of the task himself.   On January fifth, the work began—with plans slightly augmented.


Here’s a little background.  The Ecology Classroom is the first floor of the Carriage House, constructed by the Olds family when they built their farmhouse in the 1940’s.  Designed with three car bays, it is a quirky as a classroom.  In 2009, thanks to a wonderful gift from Cathie Liebl made in honor of her husband Hans (who loved Pickering dearly) we gave the classroom a much needed makeover with new cabinets and displays for the resident reptiles and amphibians and new paint on the walls, including a beautiful mural on the center cabinet.

A couple years later, as plans for an ADA bathroom in the classroom took shape, Mandy Smith and the other educators collaborated on suggestions for additional improvements that were needed and could be accomplished by the Thursday crew.  These included leveling the floor which, Tony points out, was four different thicknesses; improving drainage from two classroom sinks; the removal of three sink areas for replacement in the near future with only two in order to make better use of the space. Tony suggested, also, the replacement of the counter tops and laying them with tile for safety reasons—a project that will be undertaken soon.


234 work hours later (and counting), with assistance from 12 Thursday crew members, the work is on its way to completion as of this January 22th writing.  The flooring in one of the car bays was partially removed in order to redo the plumbing drainage.  The plumbing for the two existing bathrooms was reconfigured (by Lenco Plumbing) so that one could be made smaller and the other enlarged in order to meet ADA space requirements.   Electrical work in the Ecology Classroom was completed, through the kindness of a licensed Habitat volunteer with the necessary expertise.  As a separate project, a new shed is under construction to house some items previously stored in the Ecology Classroom.


Tony smiles when he thinks about this anticipated pretty easy project.  “Of course,” he muses, “we were held up a little when two of the old pipes broke and we had cold water everywhere.”   And the design of the ADA bathroom was befuddling.   With posts and beams and an electric box that could not be moved, Tony had to use every square inch he could muster to meet the ADA compliance standards.


Come spring, when kids bound into the classroom for lessons, to observe turtles, insects, and snakes, or to use the bathrooms, they’ll take the renovated space for granted, without thought of the work that has gone into creating it.  But the Pickering Creek teachers and staff certainly will note the difference—and with great appreciation to Tony and his dedicated crew.



The Pickering Creek staff is putting out a call for assistance to persons who have skills in writing, editing, photography, layout and graphic design, and video production.  You would work closely with the Center’s staff, developing materials in conjunction with specific projects.


At present, we are at work on a Salt Marsh and Social Media project designed to bring attention to the importance of salt marshes as habitat and the challenges of protecting marshes in the face of  sea level rise.  Specifically, we need assistance in the development of: 

1) A video to promote a contest associated with the project;

2) A three-dimensional display/diorama of a marsh;

3) Flyers and other promotional materials.

If you are interested in working on this specific project or, more generally, are willing to offer your skills in the categories listed above, please contact Samantha immediately.




Bird Monitoring Program, Training Session
Saturday, February 4, 10-12 (Originally scheduled for Jan 21)

We are embarking on a new bird-monitoring program to provide information that will inform Pickering Creek’s plans for habitat management.  We welcome and encourage volunteers to take part.  On this Saturday morning, join Wayne Bell to learn about the project and the methodology for compiling data through an eBird account set up for the Center.  Wayne has set up the GPS system that underpins the data collection. As the bird monitoring program proceeds, Pickering Creek volunteers will be paired with members of the Talbot County Bird Club.  Each pair will spend part of one day per month identifying birds along the trails and recording their finds on eBird.  If you are interested in taking part in this Wing Watchers program, please contact Samantha.  We are excited about the project and the information it will provide, and grateful to Wayne for making it possible.   (Note: this program, scheduled originally for January 21, was postponed because of hazardous weather conditions.  Nonetheless, six hardy volunteers persevered!)


Project Feeder Watch, Wednesdays and Thursdays at Pickering Creek

We need your help!   Come be a Wing Watcher as part of Project FeederWatch on Wednesdays or Thursdays for an hour or so in February, March, and April 7th.  You don’t need to be an expert; we’ll show you how to count the many birds that visit the feeder outside the main office building, and compile the data that we then send on to Cornell’s Ornithology Lab as part of its Citizen Science program.  If you are coming for the first time, let Samantha know so she can provide orientation.


Great Backyard Bird Count
Saturday, February 18, 9am-12pm
Come, and Bring a Friend! 
Pickering Creek will join Cornell Ornithology Lab’s GBBC on this Saturday morning, from 9 ‘til noon.  As stated on the Lab’s website,  “the Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent”.  Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts.  It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event.  It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.  For additional information about the Great Backyard Bird Count, visit the Lab’s website: http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/whycount.html.  On the morning of the 18th, we will count birds along Pickering’s trails and enjoy hot beverages and treats in the main office building.  There will be activities for children and fun for all.  Come, and plan to bring a friend!



Bird Walk n’ Talk Series: Diving Birds
Saturday, February 25, 10am-2pm
Join us for the next session in this series that has focused on birds of the Delmarva Peninsula.  At this session, limited to 9 participants, we shall meet at the Acme at 10 am and drive from there to Tilghman Island to observe diving birds.  (Transportation will be provided.) We shall return around 2 pm.   Cost: $10/per adult; $5/child.  Please register no later than Wednesday, February 22nd by calling the office or signing up on the Pickering Creek website: www.pickeringcreek.org


Starting with this issue, the Bird Call will publish bi-monthly. Look for the next issue in mid to late March.

Contact  Samantha Pitts, Volunteer Coordinator to register for events or ask questions.
Email: spitts@audubon.org    Phone: (410) 822-4903 x26

11450 Audubon Lane, Easton MD 21601

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