Shorebird ID Training Moss Landing, CA

As I fought back the dizziness, the lightheadedness, and the pain in my right eye during my shorebird identification training — Hugo, my predecessor, calmly said “Yeah there’s not a lot of birds today.” In that instant all the confidence that I had obtained from my daily 12 hours weeklong training in San Diego completely vanished after hearing that sincere, yet cruel sentence. At the moment, I had counted approximately 250 birds. Which included a combination of marbled godwits, western sandpipers, least sandpipers, a few yellow legs, a few black-bellied plovers, and many willets. However, I soon recovered a bit of my confidence after correcting Hugo who had stated that semipalmated plovers had two black collars. I respectfully corrected him and reminded him that it was the killdeer that has two black collars down in its neck. After surveying the area with shorebirds we took a break and decided to do a couple seabird identifications. After destroying and rebuilding my confidence with the seabird identification we called it a day. Willet and whimbrel

*Whimbrel and Willet keeping each other company

Though it was four hours of training it felt very short. The monitoring site is in Jetty Road, Mosslanding, which is literally 10 minutes away from my home and it reminded me of how very little I know of the surrounding areas and places I was surrounded by for the 15 years I lived here. I have traveled all throughout the United States and the Americas but I know very little of Monterey Bay. I suppose it is time to explore.

Otter Moss Landing*Can’t be in Monterey Bay and not take a picture of an otter.

A Sneak Peek at the World of Birding

-by: Karina Garcia, 2014 Monterey Intern
On February 4, 2014 Carlos and I were fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at the world of birding with help from last year’s Monterey intern, Hugo Ceja.

After meeting Hugo and some quick introductions, we made our way to our first destination, Jetty Rd in Moss Landing, CA, which is one of the sites we will be surveying for the next few months. Jetty Rd is a popular destination site for birders and sea otter enthusiasts alike. Upon our arrival Hugo gave us a brief introduction to the logistics of the surveying process. He walked us through the process involved in evaluating the location of the site itself in terms of wind activity, visibility, amount of vegetation present, and other factors that will be important to take notice of when collecting data on the shorebirds. While this was just a brief overview to the process, it was very helpful to understand the types of details that we will have to document when it comes to surveying. It was also extremely helpful that Hugo provided some examples of these factors specifically to the Jetty Rd site, giving us an idea of what we should expect when surveying this site.

After some of the logistics, it was time to get to the birding part. We were able to observe some of the shorebirds that we will become very acquainted with over the course of this internship. Among these were the Marbled Godwit, the Willet in its winter plumage, the Long-Billed Curlew, Least Sandpipers, and Western Sandpipers. It was really fun to observe these shorebirds in action and it was extremely rewarding to, after some practice and with the help of Hugo’s expertise, correctly identify some of these birds. Although I still have a long way to go in terms of becoming a legitimate bird identifier, it was exciting to get a preview of how rewarding it can be.

Carlos and I were very fortunate to receive this training from Hugo before the training in San Diego. We were able to learn a lot about surveying, as well as getting acquainted with the spotting scope we will be using, and how to efficiently and quickly find a particular bird in the field guide. Furthermore, we were able to get a lot of advice from an experienced birder which is priceless in itself.

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