While this program is centered around education on migratory birds, you are in no way limited in terms of what you can learn. I’ve been able to explore so many other fields in the forest service because of it just this week alone. A bit different from what I have been doing so far, this week I was able to spend time with the wildlife biologist team working down in the Reedsport area. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area Visitor Center is another of the visitor’s centers for the Coast Ranger District. This office is home to a number of the other forest service teams, including wildlife and fisheries. So far, I had only heard about the work done at the Reedsport office, but I finally had the chance to see what it was like for myself.

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As I mentioned in my last blog, much of the wildlife work done here in the summer is focused on the protection of the western snowy plover. This particular plover is a threatened species because of a combination of human disturbance, habitat loss, and predation. As part of the effort to manage the plover’s population, their habitat areas along the beaches are monitored for numbers of individuals and nests. Beach access restrictions are one of the direct ways to prevent humans from disturbing the nests during the breeding season. From March 15 – September 15, all recreation is prohibited on the dry sand on certain portions of the beach, in order to protect the nesting areas. These sections are marked off with rope and diamond signs in order to notify visitors of what activities are prohibited. In the areas we sectioned off, there are no vehicles, no kites, and no dogs allowed. The reason for this is that the snowy plover sees them as a predator and will leave the nest. The kite looks like a falcon or owl, and the dog like a coyote. Because the nests are simply shallow impressions made in the dry sand, and the eggs the color of sand, they are so well hidden we would never see them if we weren’t paying attention. That is why the signs provide such a clear warning for humans; we want to keep them as safe as we can.


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The plover monitors had good news to report this week. There were four new nests found! The bad news was that they were all found outside of the areas that had already been fenced off. Because of this, it was our job to go in and rope around these new nesting areas, to alert beach visitors. We took our team of 6 (the wildlife biologist, Cindy, wildlife tech, Amanda, wildlife intern, Jamie, and 2 fisheries interns, Liz and April, & me!) and went out to the beaches south of Winchester Bay to protect those plovers. The day was spent pounding poles into the sand, roping them together, and tying the yellow diamond sign to the top. The team taught me a lot about protecting the plover habitats and the work that gets done every summer. Before I arrived, they would be out every morning working to fence off the beach. It was admirable to see the amount of work that gets done by such a small group of people every year.

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I was also given the opportunity to meet with one of the volunteers to observe the tiger beetles here in Oregon. There are 3 species of beetles we were on the lookout for: cicindela oregona, cicindela bellisima, and cicindela hirticollis siuslawensis. Cicindela hirticollis siuslawensis, or the Siuslaw hairy-necked tiger beetle, is a rare beetle that lives along the Pacific Coast beaches from central Washington to the most northern areas of California. While efforts are being made to maintain and increase the populations of the hairy-necked tiger beetle, our job for the day was to simply record and observe the abundance of species we saw. Oregona (western tiger beetle) and bellisima (pacific coast tiger beetle) are the more common look-a-likes to the siuslawensis. We spent a couple of hours sitting and watching them come out of their burrows and scurry across the wet sand. They are speedy little insects, and when you move towards them, they sense the vibration and fly off and out of sight. I’m hoping to work with the beetles again to get more acquainted with the entomology field.

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This week was an adventure into the field with a new group of people who spend their time working with the wildlife here in Siuslaw National Forest. Their work is what we incorporate into our educational programs, so seeing it hand on was a good learning experience. Let’s see how much more I will learn from them this summer. Let’s meet again on my blog post next, everyone!

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