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· Mudflats, Cruise Ships, and Casinos: Where the Wild Thing$ Are ·

Each spring, hundreds of thousands of migrating shorebirds visit mudflats here on their way to Alaska. It's quite a sight. I've witnessed it for twenty-five years and been joined since our refuge was approved in 1988 by birders galore. These birders are stylishly outfitted with books and binoculars, scopes and tripods, cameras and, increasingly, cash. We naturally appreciate them all.

Our Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that annual wildlife viewing generates $918 million, beating fishing by $64 million and hunting by $568 million. Although cash flows are often as skittish as passing birds, we Washingtonians like what we can get by way of pecuniary predation. We are like local mudflat raptors hereabouts — eyes fixed keenly on the muddy prize.

My raptor-expert friend Dan got a flock of 25 birders Saturday, for instance, to attend his PowerPoint lecture on Peregine Falcons. At $10 a head, Dan's monies have added to monies raised by others to help the state's principal Shorebird Festival. Even some eco-skeptics are impressed.

Since 1994, with a team of volunteers, Dan has banded 73 Peregrines. From a total of 427 field investigations, his discoveries have been truly helpful — particularly in fixing knowledge of migrants and residents. His statistics indicate emergent patterns: in summer migrant Peregrines apparently follow their prey northward. So, I might add, do passing Norwegian cruise ships. · Casino Girl ·

But what, then, of our residents? Dan reports that 4/D (a Peregrine accounting for a full third of annual resightings) is seen mostly hanging out near our newest Indian Casino. It seems she's found something truly lucrative.

We naturally call her "Casino Girl."


Word of Virtue-Guru Bill Bennett's casino feeding has left us all wondering if "Casino Girl" has yet spotted him locally. Fixed as he is on "muddy lowlife," we doubt he'll ever see her.

Posted by Styles on May 7, 2003 02:38 PM

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