Even though my shorebird surveys are over, I’m happy that there are still opportunities to get involved in other types of surveys. One of my survey volunteers recently told me about the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey. COASST organizes citizen scientists to monitor beach-seabird carcasses at over 350 sites in California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. The intent behind these surveys is to determine a benchmark of what is a ‘normal’ pattern of beached birds. The data collected is used to identify long-term changes in the status of marine bird populations.
COASST surveys began in the year 2000, but surveys in Cordova, AK didn’t begin until just three years ago. This is how I found myself one morning looking for dead birds on the beach of Hippie Cove. It was fun to once again be a part of a survey team. I got to be the data recorder, so I held the clipboard and data sheet.
“Something about a clipboard makes people think that you’re doing something official,” my friend joked.
We didn’t find any dead birds this time, but there were plenty of live ones to keep us company.
I asked my friends if they ever found any dead birds. They said they found a Glaucous-winged gull, Common Murre and a Herring Gull at their first walk, but recently, all they’ve gotten is a nice walk at mid-tide, “but no data is still data.”
According to the COASST website, the number one most commonly found dead bird is the Common Murre.