Week 6: Birds, Birds, Birds!

Survey Story:

I’m at the end side of the shorebird survey area and I am counting my last birds. Suddenly, there’s a commotion of birds flying everywhere. The sandpipers I was counting fly away and I lose my count. Next thing, I see a Red-Tailed Hawk diving down and began chasing a white bird (I couldn’t make what it was). Other birds are freaking out and I’m wishing I could record this predator-prey moment. As the hawk came close to its prey, a crow came out of no where and started chasing the hawk. Seconds later, the crow chased the hawk out of my view. “Leave MY food a lone!”, is what I think the gesture was. It took a while for all the other birds to calm but they did and I finished my survey. The whole time I wished I owned a fancy camera as I also witnessed an Osprey dive down for fish a couple times in the creek earlier. However, nothing beats a mental image and the art of storytelling!

 

An Osprey, a few meters away from me, fishing along the Ballona Creek. Its "M" shaped narrow wings is a distinctive field mark for the raptor species.

An Osprey, a few meters away from me, fishing along the Ballona Creek. Its “M” shaped narrow wings is a distinctive field mark for the raptor species.

Snowy Plovers:

This week I assisted with seasonal fence building for the Snowy Plovers at Malibu Lagoon State Beach. This fence is built every year in time for the Snowy Plover breeding season which is from March to September. However, a Snowy Plover nest hasn’t been recorded or documented in Los Angeles County since the late 1940s. According to studies done on this federally threatened bird, they start to show up late summer/early fall after nesting elsewhere. Snowy Plovers won’t utilize this fence anytime soon but it will still safeguard other shorebirds and seabirds. Signs made by elementary school students were put up to educate the public about the fence.
The third week of May is the next Snowy Plover week where we will survey in LA County through the breeding season. As I mentioned, nests haven’t been found for quite a while but I’m keeping my fingers cross. Maybe this year will be the year! 🙂

Top: Tying a sign made by an elementary school student along the seasonal fence (photo cred: Stacey Vigallon) Bottom: One of the signs we put up that reads," You Might Be Hurting What You Can't See!"

Top: Tying a sign made by an elementary school student along the seasonal fence (photo cred: Stacey Vigallon)
Bottom: One of the signs we put up that reads,” You Might Be Hurting What You Can’t See!”

Least Terns:
The California Least Terns are back! This federally endangered bird has return from the South ready to breed and nest along the shore from Southern California to San Francisco Bay. The Tern colony in Los Angeles was built in the late 1970s and has increased in size every couple decades. Now, the 15-acre vegetated enclosure provides a habitat for the incoming Least Terns. I have been inside the Least Tern colony in my high school years when Dorsey High students participated in the biannual habitat restoration where students removed the invasive Sea Rocket. This year I helped with habitat restoration at the colony with the high school students in late March but now that the Terns are back there would be more active engagement. Every week, I will walk through the colony with wildlife biologists, Tom Ryan and Stacey Vigallon and look for Tern signs such as tracks and scrapes until we see nests. After we spot nests, we will monitor the colony twice a week until we see the Tern chicks! I am stoked to see baby endangered birds! This week was actually the very first time I saw and heard Least Terns even though I have participated in habitat restoration since 2008!

Top:  East facing side of the Fence with a sign for the public about the colony as a nesting site for the endangered California Least Tern, Bottom: Carlos Jauregui and Stacey Vigallon walking through the colony in search for tracks and scrapes on the first day of Least Tern sighting.

Top: East facing side of the Fence with a sign for the public about the colony as a nesting site for the endangered California Least Tern,
Bottom: Carlos Jauregui and Stacey Vigallon walking through the colony in search for tracks and scrapes on the first day of Least Tern sighting.

emilycobar
emilycobar@gmail.com
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