Week 5: Friends and Citizen Science

Every week, twice a week, I’ve conducted shorebird surveys along the Ballona Creek estuary for the Point Blue Conservation Science Migratory Shorebird Project. This 8.8 mile waterway runs from Rancho Las Cienegas to Marina del Rey; however, surveys are conducted from the far end of the bike path (Marina del Rey) to underneath the Marina Freeway bridge- passing the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve- a good two miles. The first two weeks I practiced identification and counting with former intern Carlos Jauregui; now, this past week I guided volunteers in this citizen science project.

This week two great friends, Jessika L. and Adren B. participated in these scientific surveys. The day before the survey, I sent them a Powerpoint of shorebirds that I’ve seen in the past so they could familiarize themselves with common birds. Then, the day of the survey, I gave them time to practice identification before we started survey protocol. We followed survey procedures by recording bird observations and recording the survey area conditions towards the end. While I scanned the opposite site of the creek for shorebirds, my enthusiastic friends searched through the field guide to identify a bird I assigned. Some birds they identified without my help (only to confirm)was the Marbled Godwit, Willet, Black-necked Stilt, Ruddy Turnstone and Surfbird.

On Thursday morning, April 9th, Jessika and I counted the usual number of Willets, Marbled Godwits, and Sandpipers; however, we counted twelve Whimbrels- which was an atypical number for the two or three that I’ve usually counted in the past.

On Sunday afternoon, April 12th, Adren and I biked from the beginning of the Ballona Creek bike path to the end of Marina del Rey. We made about ten stops from the Marina Freeway bride to the end of the survey area to monitor, identify, count, and record the shorebirds. This was the first time I have biked and conducted a survey so it was a new experience for me. While Jessika and I walked two miles from start to finish and back to the car totalling 4 miles, Adren and I biked the 8.8 miles and seemed to be effective- in terms of time saving and reducing car use . On this survey, we counted seven Black-bellied Plovers which was unusual and exciting because I haven’t  counted any in the past.

I may conduct surveys twice a week but every time there is always something special. Although part of the Environment for the Americas internship is to reach out to youth from underrepresented communities about bird conservation, I enjoy engaging young adults and college students in conservation science. It’s never too late to learn about migratory birds and becoming part of the conservation movement. I’m looking forward to reach out to local colleges and gain volunteer participation in the Migratory Shorebird Project.

Jessika is scoping for birds while I'm recording data.

Jessika is scoping for birds while I’m recording data.

Scanning the opposite side of Ballona Creek. Photo credit: Jessika Lopez

Scanning the opposite side of Ballona Creek. Photo credit: Jessika Lopez

Jessika searching for shorebirds.

Jessika searching for shorebirds.

If you haven't experienced the satisfying feeling of correct bird identification- go out, look, and search through a field guide!

If you haven’t experienced the satisfying feeling of correct bird identification- go out, look, and search through a field guide!

Biking with Adren (infront) along the Ballona Creek.

Biking with Adren (infront) along the Ballona Creek.

Adren scanning the opposite side for shorebirds!

Adren scanning the opposite side for shorebirds!

One of the twelve Whimbrels that Jessika and I saw!

One of the twelve Whimbrels that Jessika and I saw!

emilycobar
emilycobar@gmail.com
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