Friday, November 7, 2014

A Love Affair with Snowy Plovers

How can you not fall in love with a face like this??

We have been blessed to have had the opportunity to count Snowy Plovers in Stinson Beach for the past 3 years. This is their winter or stop over spot. The coastal population is considered to be threatened due to loss of habit since there is so much human and canine activity on the Pacific Coast beaches. They have not had a recorded successful chick hatch at Stinson Beach since 1987. Two years ago we had a Snowy Plover lay an egg but it was not a successful hatch.

This year we have counted a record 29 Snowy Plovers at one time out on the beach!! Our previous high was 18. This is encouraging.We had 8 banded birds this year. (with 3 new additions to the 5 we had seen the past 2 years) Each banded bird has a history. When you see a banded bird you can contact the following website  to get more detailed information:  They will typically get back to you and provide the history that is known due to similar reportings of sightings. 

Bob has a file with each banded bird's history- where it was banded and the locations of reported sightings. It appears the birds have great fidelity to this area - as seen by the birds we have counted repeatedly over the past 3 years. Snowy Plovers can be very difficult to see when they are hanging out in the sand. They roost in small depressions that make it difficult to detect unless they start moving about. We have watched people and dogs walk right through the middle of a group of Snowy Plovers that are in their little depressions and never even realize it. The  Snowies will start running around and only fly when they have to. If you are quiet and move slowly you can get pretty close to the birds. 

This bird is standing up in its depression in the sandGO-GO (green-orange--green orange) Band designation is read from the top then lower band on the left leg then the top and lower band on the right leg. We have been seeing GO-GO here on the beach for the past 3 years. If we had a favorite (but of course we don't have favorites) it would be GO-GO:)OG-YR (orange-green--yellow-red) We have also been seeing OG-YR on the beach in Stinson for the past 3 years. OW-OA (Orange-white--Orange-aqua) is another regular.  YRY-V (yellow-red-yellow--violet)- this is a new bird- it was born this year. After our initial sighting it was later seen and reported up in Sonoma County. GK-PB (green-black (black =K since blue=B)--pink-blue)- another new bird this year. L-R (lime--red) is another bird we have seen on the beach for the last 3 years. It actually lost two of the other original bands on its left leg. VW-YB (violet-white--yellow-blue)- another "regular" on the beach for the past 3 years. 
The world is full of beauty and wonder and we are blessed to be able to get out there  and experience it:)

Turtle & Hawk

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