Shorebirds

Large numbers of shorebirds are starting to arrive as we proceed; shorebirds by the thousands are making their appearance in Elkhorn Slough. I can’t believe how much of a bird expert I am becoming , I could now easily identify almost all of them without resorting to my bird guide. More than a couple of times, I’ve encountered curious people who will ask me about a certain bird, giving me vague descriptions and characteristics, and I am able to pin-point what kind of bird they are referring to. I am very excited about this week coming up because my fellow intern, Karina, and I plan to do an outreach presentation this Wednesday the 16th of April. It will take place at a local gym, and it will help involve the community in different outdoor activities. The majority of members are Hispanic, making it an excellent opportunity to present Environment for the Americas and the Elkhorn Slough reserve.

April = Madness

It is hard for me to believe that a month has already passed by since my initial arrival to Alaska! Time is flying by fast! Our shorebird Festival here in Cordova is less than a month away (May 8-11th), which means finalizing program descriptions, networking with people and organizations, and recruiting volunteers!

I’m currently working on organizing a community shorebird window mural at the local library with the local Girl Scout troop. As well as recruiting a few high school students to help me paint shorebirds on windows around town. So my first step in this project is going to the local shops to see if they would be interested in having temporary shorebirds painted on their windows for the Copper River Shorebird Festival. This isn’t something new, because some shops still have a remnant of last year’s shorebirds that were never taken down! After gaining approval for the project, I will be recruiting a few volunteers from the only high school in town (yes, this town is small) to find interested young artists to paint with me to get the town in the shorebird spirit! :)

I am also busy planning a Friday night children’s activity that will take place during the Festival. I’m anticipating a range of ages groups within the kids participating, so I have to be creative and ready for the unexpected to engage with my young audience! Jillian, an AmeriCorps representative also working with the Forest Service, will be helping me during the event. We are planning arts & crafts activities along with games to teach kids all about shorebirds!

As you can imagine, I have a lot on my plate. Not only am I helping organize the Festival, but I am also preparing for my shorebird surveys that will also occur before and during the festival! This week I was working on writing up a protocol for my survey sites in Hartney Bay, Odiak slough, and 3 mile. It’s normal to get a little overwhelmed, right?

In the following weeks I’ll start daily visits to my study sites, monitoring for shorebirds ’til I initiate my surveys in May. I’m BEYOND excited to start surveying, as well as participating in the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival! I have a lot of work to do, but I love my job and I am eager to see everything come together!

Brainstorming and Surveying

This week I have been brainstorming on activities I would like to do at an event coming up soon. We will be tabling and we would like to reach our audience by informing them about some of the difficulties that migratory birds encounter. I was thinking about having a type of maze and each road block in the maze can be one of the obstacles the birds may encounter. We can then talk to them about how the issue may be fixed or at least reduced as a problem. For example, the maze can have a road block at a picture of a window and we can inform them about the dangers of clear windows and that placing decals on them can help birds see the window better. I still have to research a bit more on other activities we can host at the table.

Surveying this week was a great experience. I invited two of my cousins to come out and assist me in the survey. Alexis Becerra, 9th grader, and Marc Becerra, 7th grader, said they had a great time helping me spot out the shorebirds. They had a very good eye for spotting them and helped me out a lot. Having them join me also gave me an idea of how it will be when I invite more people to survey with me. It was very fun and I am looking forward to having more volunteers in the future.

Marc Becerra (left) and Alexis Becerra (right) after the survey

Marc Becerra (left) and Alexis Becerra (right) after the survey

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

 

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“The early bird gets the worm” – I never cared much for this, but now I know that the statement is very true. I had the privilege of going out to the field with Lisa and Deisy bright and early Monday morning. Thank goodness we started at 7 o’clock because we had to take a detour back to La Jara to get all the gear we forgot back at the office.

Finally, we got back on track and headed to the Wetlands. We traveled from pond to pond to pinpoint the most accurate spot in which we could see the most shoreline. As we bumped down the road our eyes veered off into a tree that had a juvenile great horned owl. I often hear them in trees at my house but rarely get to see them because they are great at camouflaging themselves. That was only the beginning to the beautiful creatures we saw. We went on to see another two great horned owls. After we finished the first four ponds we went on to finish up on the mission we had set out on. Coming up to pond 115 we had the privilege of seeing a whole flock of American Avocets. On to the next pond we saw one Avocet floating on the water solito. I asked Lisa if it was possible to get out of the vehicle and attempt getting closer. I was about ten steps away from it and had just snapped a picture when it noticed my shadow and flushed from sight. After we finished surveying the ponds we went on to check on Lisa’s designated ponds. It was a good thing we did because on the way there we saw a humongous coyote. It was pretty funny because as soon as we got to it, Lisa’s first sight of the hundreds of ducks flushed from being frightened by the vehicle, yet a predator was inches away from gobbling them down.

Tuesday and Wednesday were much quieter. Deisy and I organized our activities and prepared for our upcoming outreach. Thursday the two of us set out for another adventure. In order to make bird feeders out of pine cones we had to go find pine cones. I knew just the place, or so I thought. I took Deisy to my childhood stomping grounds of Forbes Trinchera. We searched the hills only to realize it is not the season for the big pine cones. Defeated by our failure I decided to show her around the place. We went up to look out point where we could see the entire view of fields and the three closest towns. It truly is a miraculous sight to see.

I honestly can say this week showed me such great beauty. Every day that passes I realize that I am more and more in love with my job and cannot get enough time out in the hill. I’ll leave you with the note of knowing next week begins the chaos of our many outreach opportunities so I will be back with countless stories. Ta-Ta for now =)

#1 Fan

#1 Fan

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