Seabird and Shorebird monitors needed by Stewards of Coast and Redwoods
Many of us here in western Sonoma county are transplants from elsewhere and (along with “locals” and “long-timers”) we know how special it is to be this close to The Pacific Ocean, the world’s largest body of water.
Part of what makes that so special is that we have an opportunity to see wildlife which isn’t readily accessible to the less fortunate folk who have to travel to get here.
The most visible form of wildlife (except for insects) have feathers and many species of birds are pelagic (“of, relating to, or living or occurring in the open sea”)
and their numbers and diversity are incredible.
A trip to any marsh, seashore, or tidal flat can reveal hundreds of shore birds interacting and feeding in the same area. This can actually aid you in identification because different birds can be compared to one another with size, shape, and coloration to determine which species you are observing.
For thousands of years the birds have sustained themselves well and maintained a balance but that was before humans crawled onto the world stage.
Now they have to deal with paddlers, low-flying planes, beach goers and their pets, hikers, changes in landscape, boats, noise, fumes, and the unnatural flow of things.
Thankfully a few aware and caring people are kicking off a new seabird protection and monitoring program in order to protect these creatures and minimize if not eliminate these disturbances (which their ancestors didn’t have to deal with).
There are two agencies that are at the helm of this program. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM).
They are partnering with California State Parks and other local organizations throughout the state to create a Seabird Protection Network and Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods has been asked to become part of it.
Asked by the BLM/CCNM to assist with creating a local Seabird Protection Network chapter (along with other local partners) for the Sonoma Coast, their turf extends from Bodega Head to the Mendocino border, and their goal would be to develop and disseminate public education information as to how the seabirds can be better protected from disturbances and human-generated intrusion.
There are no official disturbance stats from our area of Sonoma Coast but there are a number of birders who have been observing colonies for years who will be involved in Stewards’ program.
There is also a group doing seabird monitoring at Sea Ranch under Madrone Audubon and they would be part of the Stewards’ local chapter.
If you do a search on Seabird Protection Network you should find info about other chapters. The Sea Ranch folks may be contacted through Diane Hichwa (from Madrone Audubon) for their information.
Stewards received a $5,000 grant to start-up this program but Stewards will need to keep looking for additional
funding to keep it going. Citizen monitors will receive a stipend for gas and meals.
(PART II , where to look for what, will follow in a few days.)
All Photos: Stephen D. Gross