March is here and soon Yaquina Bay will have several winged visitors! Whimbrels, Marbled Godwits, Greater Yellowlegs, Dunlins, Peeps and many more should be arriving in the next two weeks to the Newport wetlands to fuel up. PRBO Conservation Science has trained this year’s interns at EFTA to do shorebird research and contribute to The Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey. Data from this survey will allow scientists to learn about shorebird population trends, which species are at greatest risk, and which habitats are most needed.
This past Friday, I had the opportunity to do a pre-survey with Janet Lamberson, a retiree research aquatic biologist for the Environmental Protection Agency, who surveyed bird distribution in the intertidal areas of Yaquina Bay in 1997. She took me to Sally’s Bend and Idaho Flat, the two estuaries I will survey, to get me familiarized with them and try-out the protocol. During our time there we observed two killdeer, several Great Blue Herons, one Bald Eagle, what appeared to be a Red-tailed Hawk, and several diving ducks. It was not the best time for shorebirds since the tide was high, however, Janet is a bird enthusiast and her knowledge and experience were very helpful. I learned not only about what birds to expect at the different observation stops but also about the sites’ ecology. Now I know what to expect on my first survey day.