The Initiation of Shorebird Surveys in Alaska
I have been really lucky with the weather we have been getting this year. The sun has been out and the shorebirds are arriving fast! Yesterday was my first day surveying, I saw a few shorebirds- 13 Least sandpipers, 2 greater yellowlegs, and 1 black-bellied plover (one of my favorite shorebirds that I was eagerly hoping to see).
Today was Day 2 of surveys, and WOW did I see A LOT of shorebirds! The picture above is from a mixed flock of Western sandpipers, dunlin, and least sandpipers. It was AMAZING to see them fly together, but also a bit frustrating when it comes to trying to estimate the flock size during the survey! They finally landed on a small island where 5 black-bellied plovers where hanging out. It was pretty awesome to see how different the species where from one another in terms of plumage and size. The black-bellied plover was the largest (11 1/4″) in the flock, dunlin were the second largest (7 1/2″) compared to the little peeps- western sandpipers were just a little bigger than the least sandpiper (5 1/2″) by half an inch.
I was not able to find any volunteers for these two surveys, so it was a little intimidating but it was fun being out in the sun and using the skills I learned during EFTA training and studying. Tomorrow will be the first day I will be going out with a volunteer, hopefully all goes well! Before I start my surveys tomorrow, I’ll also be painting shorebirds in town with 2 high school students that I met during their art show at the High School. Stay tuned for more shorebird window art and lots of SHOREBIRDSSS! 🙂