Another busy week. Weeks are going by super fast. A month ago we were on our last day of training back in San Diego after getting drilled heavily on shorebird identification and count surveys. Now, I have conducted about eight shorebird count surveys and trained about seven volunteers on shorebird identification and count surveys. Shorebirds are molting their winter plumage and their breeding plumage is beginning to show; it has been wonderful seeing the transition. With shorebirds migrating soon up north, we are also beginning to transition into our next projects post shorebird count surveys. Los Angeles Audubon has been heavily involved in least tern monitoring for the last couple years. There is an enclosure set up in Marina del Rey where least terns come and nest every year. In the last twenty years least terns have decreased dramatically due to habitat loss. They are birds that are commonly found in South America and then migrate up North to breed. They love sandy beaches and people do too, therefore with very restricted undisturbed beach habitat, least tern hatchlings have a hard time thriving let alone even hatching from their eggs.
About three weeks ago, we leveled out the sand in the least tern colony in order to make sure that the fence is high enough to keep people and dogs out of the enclosure. This week, we conducted vegetation surveys in the enclosure. Line transects were done in each quadrant of the enclosure and we had to record the plant species and how high they were growing. This is important because researchers are trying to understand if least terns like to nest in vegetation and if they do, how tall of a vegetation or how short. Vegetation is important because it is also known that least tern hatchlings get entangled in very large and tall vegetation. Even though vegetation surveys are not really fun and fairly long, I am excited to see how this plays a part in long term research on least tern conservation, in the meantime while we are waiting for the least terns, be on the look out for Killdeer and Sandy Plover eggs in the sandy beaches and shores of the coast.