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.
*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.
*Can’t be in Monterey Bay and not take a picture of an otter.
It’s a little over our 4th week since we have been back from San Diego and I am finally feeling like a professional shorebird monitor. I am really starting to notice the wider range of different species in our survey site. Their numbers are becoming larger by the day, especially the Black-bellied Plover, which has become my favorite shorebird. Black-bellied Plovers are the largest plovers in North America and its striking black belly its what makes this plover really stand out. All shorebirds should be at the peak of their migrating cycle by the 25th of April. Now, we are starting to see and count larger numbers of them. As far as everything else is going, I am really learning a lot. My fellow intern partner, Karina, and I have plans to do some outreach this week for middle school students at El Sausal middle school in Salinas,CA and also at our local community college.
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