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Calendar: Speaker Series

| July/August | September | October | November |

These free monthly programs feature scientists, photographers, authors, international travelers and others speaking on a wide range of topics related to birds and their environment.

Both members and non-members are invited to attend, but we encourage you to become a supporting member so we can continue this popular Speaker Series.

Time and Place: The programs are usually held on the third Wednesday of the month, except for December, July, and August. Unless otherwise noted, all meetings are held at

Cubberley Community Center, Room H1
4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
(see street view map or map PDF)

Refreshments at 7:30 PM, program at 8 PM

July and August 2016

There are no programs in July and August. But our Nature Shop and Headquarters (get directions) are open! Join one of our other events going on this summer. Our Speaker Series resumes in September.

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September 2016

The Two Seasons of The Serengeti's "Great Migration"
Doug Cheeseman
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Doug Cheeseman Zebra Kori Bustard
Doug Cheeseman, Zebra Foal, Kori Bustard

Serengeti is "Endless Plain" in Masai. If you are always migrating clockwise as three to four million migratory herbivores do in the Serengeti eco-system, it is endless! Wildebeest calving in February and March in the Ndutu area (the heart of the Serengeti short grass plains) is a big highlight in the wet season versus the dry season highlight of masses over the Mara River in July/August from Tanzania to Kenya and back again! The Ndutu short grass/woodland ecotones in Jan/Feb is also the congregating place for cheetah moms who follow the herds and seem to time their cubs to be born along with the many wildebeest calves. Doug will cover the movements of predators and prey, the changes in bird behaviors and populations over the wet and dry season, and the survival strategies of non-migratory species through the dry season in the southern Serengeti, such as the non-migratory herbivores. The Serengeti is famous for its habitat diversity with grassy plains, acacia woodlands, marshes, rivers, hills and ancient rocky outcrops called "kopjes". The Serengeti supports an amazing species diversity. Doug will discuss the recovery of several species thanks to more protection while other species, such as some of the rare small mammals and birds needing fragile stream side vegetation, are struggling to survive. To find their grass and water the big herds stay close to the permanent water sources during July/August. When the calcium rich short grass is green around Jan/Feb in the southern Serengeti, the herds graze there. Doug will explain some of the fascinating behaviors that keep this perpetually moving circle going. Watch bounding baby zebras, gazelles, and vast herds of large herbivores that convey the scale of the "Great Migration" still vibrant today. These herds with the migratory genes are always congregating in dribs and drabs or in huge aggregations somewhere in the vast Serengeti throughout the year, always on the move as the grass gets eaten down to the roots and their drinking pools dry up behind them. Do ug will take you north along the Mara River with photos taken from safaris in July/August. Herds show up overnight for the "green flush" on pastures that get localized dry season thunder storm downpours. Doug will explain how they migrate by scent during the night. The grass stays very long in the pastures along the Mara River most of the year until herds arrive and mow it down. They cross back and forth over the river from one side to the other trying to decide which side has the greener grass. Eventually it rains again in the southern Serengeti and flocks of birds arrive on their wintering grounds. The wildebeest and zebra herds depart from the northern Serenteti where the Mara River sustains them and head south again and the Tommies and Eland return to the plains. The Wildebeest females carrying calves all drop them every Feb/Mar, while the males prepare for their next rut that happens just at the end of the "long rains" through May and June in a normal year. But every year is different. Sometimes both the short rains of Nov/Dec and the long rains of Mar/Apr/May fail producing a severe drought year. What happens then? So far they are as resilient as humans.

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October 2016

Searching for Gold Spot: The Wild That Follows Fire
Maya Khosla
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Maya Khosla Black-backed Woodpecker Black-backed Woodpecker
Maya Khosla and Black-backed Woodpeckers

Many people believe that forests are destroyed after wildfire – so they are logged. Searching for Gold Spot is a film about the amazing comeback of life in forests after wildfire. Maya Khosla follows teams of scientists and firefighters through the Sierra Nevada, the Cascades Mountains and beyond. She will speak about the issues raised in her 21-minute film focusing on rare Black-backed Woodpeckers. These woodpeckers have recently been petitioned for special status species listing (threatened or endangered). Their nesting cavities are vital for a host of other birds and small mammals that cannot build their own. While searching for woodpeckers, the research team also finds a plethora of wildlife – deer, black bears, sapsuckers, bluebirds, wrens, and raptors, including a nesting Northern Goshawk and her chicks, and spotted owl chicks – all in the post-fire forests (called "snag forests" for short). Team members travel to national forests and parks in Stanislaus, Lassen, Plumas, El Dorado, Sierra, Tahoe, Inyo and Sequoia. Forests that have experienced fire are vibrant, dazzling, full of life and rapidly regenerating. Wildflowers and thousands of tree seedlings are bursting from the earth; the air is full of song. Fire renews the forest and post-fire forests are the "new old growth". They are the starting point of old growth forests in the American West. These snag forests are vital not only for Black-backed Woodpeckers but for other wildlife. Indeed, snag forests are vital for entire ecosystems. Blending a visually exquisite celebration of wilderness with awareness of the challenges involved with saving it, "Searching for Gold Spot" raises important questions about conservation of the wild as we know it. The film will show hundreds of living, breathing reasons why post-fire forests need to be saved from logging.

Maya Khosla is the author of Keel Bone (Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize) and Web of Water: Life in Redwood Creek. Support for Searching for Gold Spot was made possible by grant awards from the Sacramento Audubon Society and Patagonia. Her screenwriting work includes narratives for The Turtle Diaries, Shifting Undercurrents and Village of Dust, City of Water, award-winning documentary films. Maya filmed, wrote, interviewed and directed for Searching for Gold Spot, her film on woodpecker conservation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and has hopes of creating a full film on the same subject in the future. After presenting her short film, Maya will also talk more about her most recent field work gathering a third season of footage and answer questions.

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November 2016

A Naturalist's Guide to Washington's Olympic Peninsula
Ken Campbell
Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Olympic Marmots Black-tailed Deer Ken and Mary Campbell
Olympic Marmots, Black-tailed Deer, Ken and Mary Campbell

Take a photographic tour of Washington's Olympic Peninsula with Ken Campbell to see and learn about some of the best places to view the amazing diversity of habitats and wildlife. The Olympic Peninsula has two National Wildlife Refuges, a National Marine Sanctuary, a National Forest and a National Park. With nearly 3600 square miles to explore, the Peninsula has glacier covered mountains, magnificent old-growth forests, temperate rain forests, alpine meadows, high alpine lakes, free-flowing salmon rivers, beautiful waterfalls, miles of rugged undeveloped coastline, and the biologically diverse Strait of Juan de Fuca. Though the area is known for its precipitation with the west side receiving nearly 200 inches per year, the area in the rain shadow on the east side receives less than 20 inches. The variety of ecosystems and diverse climate create an environment that is home to a unique mix of flora and fauna.

Ken Campbell is a world class woodworker and fly rod craftsman from New Hampshire who loves birding, as well as the whole natural world. Ken and Mary Campbell do a lot of volunteer work in Olympia National Park from their home now in Port Angeles, Washington. They traveled the world to all seven continents in search of extraordinary wildlife and received numerous awards for their photography. They focus on capturing wildlife in action or reflecting the natural beauty of the world around them. Ken has taught photography classes and was a judge for New England Camera Club competitions. They have had photographs published in local and national magazines, brochures and calendars and provide presentations to many community groups.

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