2013-07-24 Saltworks & Imperial Beach

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer chick getting banding at the Saltworks. Part of the South San Diego Bay NWR, San Diego, California.

Wednesdays are set aside for accepting guests as part of the nesting tern surveys at the Saltworks section of the San Diego Bay NWR. I’ve had to good fortune to gain the friendship and confidence of key members of the biology team charged with monitoring this sensitive habitat. Belding’s Savannah Sparrows, Snowy Plover, Least Terns, and Gull-Billed Terns are some of the threatened or endangered species depending on this location for propagation.  Additionally, Forster’s Terns, Caspian Terns, Elegant Terns, Royal Terns, Black Skimmers, Double-Crested Cormorants, Avocets, Black-Necked Stilts, and Killdeer exploit this protected area for nesting. Wilson’s and Red-Necked Phalaropes spend non-nesting times here as well. Occasionally one gets to meet an unusual migrant bird passing through to or from its winter and summer territory. I met one such bird this morning; the Stilt Sandpiper.

It’s a full-time job protecting the wild occupants of this place. Biologists spend several days a week keeping an eye on the comings-and-goings here. Staff from the USFWS pay multiple visits per day to prevent predator invasions and attacks. The tools they use are trapping and relocating (when they can), or culling (when they must). Keeping cats, dogs, coyotes, racoons, gulls, squirrels and other problem animals at bay is no small task. The ground-nesting species here need all the help they can get if they are to persist and thwart all these urban and natural threats.

Birds met this morning included Stilt Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, Black Skimmer, Caspian Tern, Red-Necked Phalarope, Western Sandpiper, Black-Necked Stilt, Semipalmated Plover.

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