The Raven's Nest
August 2019
Upcoming Events
All EMAS Meetings/Walks are Free and Open to All!
A Message from Our Newly-Elected President
I am honored (and excited!) to serve as Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society's new President. Over my 15 years of EMAS membership, our chapter’s leadership has been exceptional. I’ll do my best to carry on that tradition. I have huge shoes to fill, particularly those of our Immediate Past President, Tom Tribble. Tom’s dedication, energy and enthusiasm to EMAS are beyond compare. Over the 6 years of his presidency, our chapter’s vibrancy and effectiveness as a conservation organization reached new heights. Tom spends countless hours in the community promoting Audubon’s mission: to protect birds and the places they need. Under his direction, EMAS’ growing commitment to advocating for birds has truly taken flight.

Tom: we thank you for your outstanding service to EMAS over the years… and we are so grateful that you plan to continue working just as hard for our chapter -- and for the birds we love!

We also thank Emilie Travis and Kristin Anderson for their wonderful service to the EMAS Board of Directors. Emilie, best wishes for your new life in Florida... we will miss your energy and fun! Kristin, thank you for being our first student Board member and for your excellent work starting the UNCA Audubon chapter. We look forward to continuing our work with you!
In other leadership news, I’m happy to announce that the Board appointed Marianne Mooney to Vice-President. Marianne is our newsletter editor and previously served as Board Secretary for 4 years. We thank you, Marianne, for taking on this new position, crafting excellent newsletters each month, and for everything else you do for EMAS!

We are also glad to welcome Noah Poulos, our newest Board member, who's got great ideas and loads of enthusiasm.

A few additional notes of interest:
  • Save the Date! Join us Sunday, September 22 from 1 to 4pm for our 30th Anniversary Celebration of the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary 
  • Speaking of Beaver Lake, please check out the Beaver Bits section below. EMAS Board Member, Jay Wherley, gives us news about the Merrimon Avenue sinkhole and its impacts on our eco-filter pond.

Good Birding!
President, EMAS Board of Directors

Photo (L to R): Nancy Casey , Jamie Harrelson, Joe Sasfy, Tom Tribble and Marianne Mooney
Upcoming EMAS Events and Fall Programs
Mark your calendars for some exciting EMAS events this fall. Along with our regular first Saturday of the month birdwalks at BLBS, we’ve got fun outings and exciting programs that you won’t want to miss. Check out the summary below and please join us!

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary 30 th Anniversary Celebration!
Sunday, September 22 from 1 to 4 p.m.
Naturalist’s stations on the boardwalk, Nature Bingo for kids, Raptor demonstrations and more.

Swift Night Out
Thursday, September 26 at 6:45 p.m. 
Watch Chimney Swifts as they swirl in a vortex of hundreds over downtown Asheville. Meet at the Civic Center parking deck’s 7 th level.

EMAS Fall Programs

The Mysteries of Chimney Swifts by Curtis Smalling
Director of Conservation, North Carolina Audubon
Tuesday, September 17

Travels with Migratory Birds by Bruce Beehler
Research Associate in the Division of Birds at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Tuesday, October 22

The Art of Audubon by Bill Steiner and the Asheville Art Museum
Tuesday, November 19

Addendum: If you caught Cherie Pittillo’s great program on the Pantanal, you might be interested in articles that Cherie writes. Her photography alone is a reason to follow her at this link:  Yucatan Times

Volunteer with EMAS! We welcome folks who’d like to volunteer with EMAS at Beaver Lake doing some cutting and pruning of invasives and other plants. Upcoming workdays are Saturday, August 17 and Saturday, September 14 from 9:00-11:30. Please bring loppers and gloves.
A Brief History of Beaver Lake
By Noah Poulos
Many folks may not remember, but back in 1986, our own Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary was slated to become just another strip mall along Merrimon Avenue. This unique piece of land, which hosted a diverse array of habitats--meadows, wetlands and streams--would not be turned into a strip mall without a fight!

Just weeks after the proposal, the Lake View Park Commission asked the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society, which had only recently been established, to consider buying the 3.86 acre parcel. EMAS sprang into action, spearheading a campaign to enlist public support in raising enough money to purchase the land and create the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. EMAS convinced the Janierve Foundation, the City of Asheville, and Buncombe County to contribute $200,000 toward the purchase. To meet the developer’s deadline, EMAS borrowed the balance from the Trust for Public Land. Within two years, with generous contributions from chapter members and the Asheville community, EMAS paid off the loan and acquired the deed to the property. Just three years after the initial proposal, EMAS took over management of the Sanctuary and began a decades-long effort to restore habitat and create a safe place for birds to live, nest, and forage.  
EMAS has long worked hand in hand with the Lake View Park Commission (LVPC) which owns the areas of the Sanctuary adjoining the lake. The Sanctuary covers about 8 acres and includes the Dr. Ed Hauser Ecofilter Wetland which was constructed by EMAS in 1999. EMAS and LVPC have easements on each other’s land that prevent its use for anything other than a nature preserve.

For the last 30 years, the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary has been a community hub, offering Asheville residents, visitors, children, and bird enthusiasts a natural landscape right in town. EMAS was honored by the National Audubon Society for our successful campaign to save the wetland and our contributions to local conservation, education, and restoration. A true success story, the efforts by EMAS to purchase that small tract of land show the impact that impassioned citizens can have on their community. 

photos: Beaver Lake looking towards the Sanctuary by Jay Wherley
Screech Owl at BLBS by Virginia Senechal  
Bird Notes
By Rick Pyeritz
In my study hangs a painting of a Belted Kingfisher sitting on the end of a gnarled branch, gazing into a limpid pool. The artist has captured part of this bird’s essence --- a calming effect, first recorded in Greek mythology, that gives rise to its species name (H)alcyon. But for many of us, the experience of the Belted Kingfisher is not one of peacefulness, but rather the sheer thrill of hearing its rattling call as it disturbs the peace while patrolling our waterways. To find out more about this charismatic, large-headed fish eater, follow this link .  

Belted Kingfisher by Elizabeth Ellison
Beaver Bits
Text and Photos by Jay Wherley
In June, a large sinkhole located on private property along Merrimon Ave. opened. T he Dr. Ed Hauser Ecofilter Wetland at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary was impacted by tons of debris. The sinkhole was caused by the failure of an underground pipe carrying a natural stream. Multiple initial attempts to fill the sinkhole led to more material being swept into the wetland. On July 1, the NC Department of Environmental Quality issued a Notice of Violation to the property owner, requiring a response by August 5. That response must include a plan for the removal of sediment from BLBS.

This is not the first time the ecofilter pond has been affected by debris washing in. A sinkhole formed on July 2013 very close to the current one and produced similar damage to the wetland. After that property owner lost a legal case against the City of Asheville, the ecofilter pond and was eventually dredged in December 2013. 

* * *

Notable recent sightings at Beaver Lake include Great Egret and Double-crested Cormorant.
Photo: Impacted wetland with sinkhole debris, Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary, 12 July 2019
About The Raven's Nest
Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society
PO Box 18711 Asheville, NC 28814

EMAS is a chapter of the National Audubon Society, serving Buncombe, Henderson, and surrounding counties in western North Carolina.

Content Editor: 
Marianne Mooney

Technical Editor: 
Nick Dugan
Our mis sion is to promote an awareness and appreciation of nature, to preserve and protect wildlife and natural ecosystems, and to encourage responsible environmental stewardship.

Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
For the latest information and schedule changes,
check the EMAS Website or Facebook page