Wednesday was a nice and toasty day (92.5 F) out in the field, doing shorebird surveys with one small, wispy cloud in the sky – I will no longer forget to bring the sunscreen with me. Luckily, I had one volunteer with me who could tally the birds while I counted. Otherwise, it would have taken me much longer. She had never seen an American Avocet or a Whimbrel before. It’s such a pleasure to share my new knowledge with others. Surveys are pretty tough when you are working alone, especially when the species and number of birds are so abundant and the site is so large! Each time I survey there seem to be more birds and species showing up, such as flocks of thousands of Western Sandpipers. It’s so fun watching them move in sync, as they twist and turn in the sky with flashes of black and white. I can’t even imagine what these flocks may have looked like back in the 1800’s, with hundreds of thousands of birds. Nowadays, the numbers of birds (and other organisms) have decreased substantially, compared to the 1800’s and even 1900’s. This is due to hunting, as well as building windows that birds run into and lights that distract them.
In contrast, on the very next day, Thursday, the high was a “measly” 64 F, with not even a teensy bit of blue sky anywhere to be seen. A slight breeze chilled my bones on this cloudy day, but of course the birds were busy feasting on their preferred crustaceans and worms!
As a side note, I have now officially gone searching for a Lewis’s Woodpecker (a rare sight at Elkhorn Slough). Not only did we see one, but we saw two! We observed them sitting on a post and flying out to catch insects, then returning to the post and storing the bugs in holes on top of the post for a later snack…which reminds me that I have an apple in my backpack.