This week Carlos and I went out to the Moss Landing Wildlife Area with Carleton Eyster. As we were walking on the main levee towards Carleton we stumbled upon a Snowy Plover nest! I feel so fortunate that we saw it when we did because it was camouflaged so well that the eggs were almost indistinguishable from the speckled rocks surrounding it. Unfortunately, one of the eggs from this particular nest was broken. Carleton said it appeared as it someone had hit it with their shoe. It was sad to see a broken Snowy Plover egg considering that their conservation status is at a critical time right now.
As we walked around the salt ponds looking for more Snowy Plover nests we were able to see the (likely) parents of the nest. We learned that each Snowy Plover in the area has 4 colored bands on its legs for identification. It was quite hard trying to distinguish the color of the bands from a far distance without a spotting scope but Carleton was a pro at it.
Carlos and I also learned about the management of the Moss Landing Wildlife Area. We learned which bodies of water feed into which salt ponds and it was all really interesting but complicated at the same time. It is a pretty big area to manage but we learned that Carleton manages it all by himself! That’s true dedication to the Snowy Plovers!
We also got to check out a site where Carlos and I will be surveying for Ravens and Northern Harriers, potential predators of the Snowy Plovers and their nests. It was a beautiful site with a freshwater pond nearby. I feel so lucky that this internship allows us to spend so much time outdoors engaging with nature and wildlife!