One of the main duties I’ve had at Siuslaw National Forest is outreach and education about the western snowy plover (WSP), my job is to explain the different activities that may disrupt the WSP nesting season. I try to encourage people to respect the habitat restoration areas and restrictions applied, and I deliver the message of sharing the beach with these sensitive and vulnerable species. Working with my supervisors, Cindy and Crystal, trying to rope and put signs in the habitat restoration areas, showed me how much effort put in protecting these birds. Last week we were rewarded for all that effort. Gabie, Jasmine and I helped the plover monitors to check the nest and broods over the 16 miles of roped beach, the plover monitors are the only ones that know the location of the nests and broods. I’ve seen plovers chicks before, but still I had my doubts about the difference between fledgling and adults; it seems that fledglings don’t have the outer tail wings as long as the adults. Another valuable information I got from this great opportunity is how to trace plover tracks back to their nest, because their nest are made directly in the sand, and the eggs are of the same color of the sand making them invisible to people. The monitors also have the important job of support Crystal, which is the law enforcement officer of the nesting area, and she gives tickets to violators according to their attitude and the seriousness of the infraction.
Monitoring plovers was not the only great think that happened that day, we say many ospreys and bald eagles. We also observed different species of shorebirds (dunlin, western sandpiper, semipalmated plover, least sandpiper, willet and whimbrels). It was not an usual day, the ocean was calmed, it almost looked like a river and we had the opportunity to observe a group of harbor porpoises and gray whales in the water. But also, last week we participated in the marbeled murrelet survey in the forest and we didn’t see any birds that day; suddenly when we where with the the monitors at the beach and there was a bird in the water, and yes it was a marbeled murrelet. It was such a great moment. The day couldn’t been better, at the end the plovers monitors spotted three chicks that hatched the day before, so they had to band them for identification purposes and also to measure all over the years the productivity and the status of the population. Therefore, they captured the chicks and we help them band the birds and learn about the different combinations of the bands and the meanings it was just such a great day and I will always remember it.