My First Encounters With Shorebirds And More..

I spotted my first shorebirds this weekend on my way back from an amazing getaway weekend camp trip with my supervisors, Erin and Melissa, and co-worker Jillian. On our way back to town we stopped near small islands where we scanned the rocky shores for shorebirds from our boat. Right when we were ready to head home we spotted a pair of Black Oystercatchers! I was pretty excited!

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I got to drive the skiff (small boat) on our way home! It was a bit bumpy and wet, but I learned how to steer and follow the markers that tell you which direction to go to avoid hidden rocks or mudflats that can be hard to see during high-tide.

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During the work week, I helped collect pre-treatment data on a site that will be hydroaxed in hopes to promote moose habitat. Within a transect we recorded the tree nearest to our plot collecting tree species -number of stems, state of tree (dead/alive), height, and whether it had signs of browsing. Common tree species that we found were: alder, sitka spruce, mountain hemlock, and cottonwoods. (In the picture below, Melissa and Mike are collecting tree height data).

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After work, my co-worker Milo Burcham, a wildlife biologist in charge of subsistence hunting with the Forest Service as well as a professional photographer. This week (1st week of April) Milo has been making trips to see the herring spawining event. Once a year, the herring come to Prince William Sound (PWS) to spawn, which attracts whales, porpoises, sea lions, sea birds, and humans! The herring were once abundant in PWS, but currently their numbers are nothing like they once were before the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Milo has been going out for many years now, and was going to take Michael who also is a professional photographer. As someone who enjoys photography, it was amazing to accompany professional photographers on such an amazing trip! I had never witnessed humpback whales like I did this week, I could hear them! It is hard to put into words how I felt when I saw and heard them. I felt their energy, an ancestral connection (I’m not sure how else to explain it, but it was BEAUTIFUL).

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ericagaeta
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