My first  flock of peeps seen

My first flock of peeps seen. Where? Those tiny golden dots! (Click on picture to enlarge)

After weeks of waiting impatiently to see a flock of shorebirds in Yaquina Bay, they have finally arrived! On Monday morning at 6:45 a.m, I got out my car, the sky was clear blue and I began setting up the spotting scope. Then a flock of more than a hundred sandpipers flew right over my head! I had been fantasizing about this moment  since I began doing the surveys and it couldn’t have been more perfect. They flew together left and right. They would stop for ten seconds, then fly together again.

Dowitchers, dunlins, and western and least sandpipers feeding.

Dowitchers, Dunlins, and Western & Least Sandpipers feeding. (Click on picture to enlarge)

Short-billed dowitchers

Short-billed Dowitchers

The shorebirds’ arrival could not have been more perfect for the Shorebird Sister School Program field trips. There was plenty of wildlife to see since the field trips are held in the same area of Yaquina Bay that I survey weekly. The Newport Intermediate School came and it was exciting because this school has a significant number of Hispanic/Latino students. During the field trip, there were about ten students of Hispanic/Latino decent. Two of the students were monolingual Spanish speakers. I got to take the Spanish native speakers through all the field trip stations and engage them in their native language.

The education stations we had set-up for the field trips were birdwatching, invertebrate collection, and migrating bird activities. The kids in my group had so much fun! And I enjoyed watching them enjoy the activities. At the birdwatching station they saw tons of Western Sandpipers and Dunlins. They were amazed at how small these birds are in real life. They also saw Dowitchers, Whimbrels, Great Blue Herons, and a Bald Eagle.  Then the students moved to the invertebrate station. They had shrimp suckers, shovels, and a bucket to dig into the mud and collect invertebrates. This was a lot of fun for them and they all got very muddy and dirty while  finding ghost shrimps, clams, and worms.  The field trip ended with the students pretending to be shorebirds while going through a migration obstacle course. They had to crawl under “telephone lines” in order not to get “electrocuted”, jump over “roads” and “poisoned estuaries”.  The students had to get through these obstacles meanwhile running away from a cat (another student) in order to get to the shorebird breeding habitat! Super fun.

My group of students did not fully understand the previous shorebirds classes. Although they seemed shy, they were using their field guides and were eager to learn! They were just shy about their English but felt comfortable with me. They would ask me share with the group something cool they had seen. At the end of the trip, they thanked me for being there and told me they couldn’t wait to come back to see more shorebirds. To hear something like this made my day!

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