Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New Wilson Plovers chick May 26 Yea!

Yesterday, May 26, 2015, Yank Moore, Jekyll Island Authority's wildlife coordinator, found a new Wilson Plover's nest with 2 hatchlings.  I was invited to go along to watch these Wilson's Plover chicks get their color bands.  Thanks to Elizabeth Hunter for banding them.

We now have 7 Wilson's Plover chicks with color band so far this  years.  These bands will help us to follow these special birds though the years.

Aren't they cute.  Meet Blue/Green BLG and Blue/yellow or BLY hatched 5-26-2015

And here is a chick that was hatched Mother's Day
May 10, 2015 This one is Light Blue/Orange or LBLO

Here one chick ready to get back to its mom.

Friday, May 22, 2015

2015 May Atlanta Shorebirds Workshop part 2

On Sunday May 17, Our Shorebird Workshop was out on the waters of the Altamaha River Delta to look for birds. Brooks Good had the perfect boat. It was a platoon boat. It was just like a floating dock. It made it perfect for looking at shorebirds.   We did see them.  Man, we did see them! It was so much fun.  See! 

At the end of one amazing stop we all let out a celebration whoop.

On the way back we stop by a grass island that was covered with all kinds of herons and ibis.

 All in all it was wonderful morning.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2015 May Atlanta Shorebird Workshop part 1

Brad Winn who was then working with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources persuaded Lisa and Art Hurt to do this special Atlanta Audubon workshop in May. The Georgia Coast is one of those secret places where birds have a chance to rest on their migration routes. In May the shorebird time their migration to correspond with horseshoe crabs laying their eggs. Lisa called on Gene Keferl and me to help lead the group which i
s limited to 12 people.

This year’s workshop was time just right for the moon phase, tides and bird. Saturday, we met and carpooled down to the south end of Jekyll. We hit it just right! The tide was going out and the birds were dividing into the fest. 

I invited my friend Georgia Graves to come along. I met Georgia years ago when I starting leading groups for Coastal Encounter Nature Center. She is a wonderful engaging teacher who helps to show the connection between our coast and the birds. Here she is showing why the shorebirds are on the beach.
She uses a sieve to dig up the anthropoids that are
the favorite food of the Sanderlings and Dunlins. She also found a dead horseshoe crab loaded with eggs. These eggs are protein and fat packed perfect for shorebirds that are going to fly to the arctic.

Here are a few birds feasting on those eggs.

Of course, the reason I take the group here is to see the Wilson’s Plovers with their chicks. They did not disappoint us we saw all 5 chicks! Here is one picture by Larry Gridley. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Plover Patrol at Georgia Sea Turtle Center

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center attracts over 100,000 people to come to Jekyll annually. On Thursday April 9 and Friday, April 10 around 1200 people came to their spring event called Shell-a-brate.
For the past few years, I have had the Operation Plover Patrol booth at this event.  The idea is to teach visitors to the beach about the birds those birds on the beach. This year, we did something different. 
This year we decided to create signs for the nesting shorebirds on our coast. Painting is fun and a good way to engage the public in helping these birds. It wasn’t my idea. I took the idea from Walker Golder, the North Carolina Audubon Director. Since we were on Jekyll and we have a rope line at the south end with nesting Wilson’s Plover, we focus on Wilson’s Plovers.

We talked about why the rope line was up.  We showed pictures of Wilson’s Plovers as family groups. One of those pictures showed the adult in plain sight and the chick blended into the wrack and vegetation. We ask people to find the chicks. It was fun to watch them search and find the chicks.

We had decided to have three slogans to build their sign designs around. Those slogans were “Help the Wilson’s”, “Share the Beach,” and “Protect our nests.”  I had a simple way to draw a bird to show our young artists. 

The young people were very amazing at coming up with ideas on their own. Here are a few of the signs.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Back on the Beach

March 30, 2014, it has been a year since that day.  I had joined a group of birders on Little St. Simons Island.  My hip had been giving me problems but ignored it.  “Just a pinched nerve,” I thought.  The First beach was at the north end of the island.  There we were going to see a Long-billed Curlew.  This is a large shorebird who feeds on worms in the soft mud of our salt marsh creeks.  If you are from the Pacific Ocean Coast, you are probably saying we see 100’s of Long-billed Curlew, big Deal. But here in Georgia, there are just a few that winter here.  Little St. Simons Island is the place to see them.

Carl Runge & I at Glory Boardwalk
I was really looking forward to seeing this bird so I slogged through the mud with my heavy scope to see it.  There it was the tall, stately brown bird with a long bill that was almost as long as it body was long.  I was in heaven. But my heaven soon turned into hell.  I slogged out of the mud back to the sandy beach only to have my hip screaming at me.  I could barely move.

The next stop was the center beach.  There was a large group of terns way out on the sand bar.  I would have to walk out on that soft sand.  I couldn't do it.  There were those terns waiting for me to walk out to them.  Sandwich Terns, Royal Terns Caspian Terns, Forster’s Terns, and Common Terns, I love terns and I couldn't walk out to see them.  It broke my heart.  What was wrong?

Lourdes Page and I at Glory Boardwalk
Well, that was a year ago.  Since then, I have been cooked, cut and fried but the doctors, my friends and I, we beat that cancer.  So on April 3, 2015, I walked on the beach on Jekyll. Carl and Lourdes joined me to walked almost the whole southern half of Jekyll's beach. We conducted the first of the spring season's International Shorebird Surveys.  It felt great to be out there looking at Willets, Dunlins, Sanderlings and six Short-billed Dowitchers.  They were beautiful.  Of course, the Wilson’s Plover came out from the wrack to give me a high five and welcome back.  We saw 4 pairs and there could be 2 more pair tucked way back in the sandy dunes.  I look forward to helping them as they settle into nest.  Yea! More to come...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What a Surprise!

February 21 was the evening for the third year for Jekyll Island's Green Screen. Ben Carswell created this wonderful event.  Each year, I bring a poster for my Operation Plover Patrol.   This year the Plover Patrol keep me excited through the worst of the nasty chemo.  Even when I was so weak I could barely move, one of my volunteers would send me a report and I could keep going.  Giving the birds a voice was more important than any treatment.  Also, there were lots of friends sending me notes.  These notes helped me.
      Abby Sterling is studying Wilson's Plovers on the Georgia Coast.  She spent the summer near Barrow, Alaska.  This is one place I really would love to visit.  She sent me pictures from Barrow.  It lifted my mood. 

Here is Abbey Sterling with me at the poster.  This year's poster was put together by Katie Higgins.  It was peach so it popped!   It was so much fun to see all the conservation work going on here on the Georgia Coast. There was one poster that showed how much the south end of Jekyll has grown and change.  The work used a shrimp boat that went down in June of 1996.  Fascinating, I wish I could have looked at it a little longer but there was so much to see and people to talk to around the room.  

    Of course, there was the main event the movie.  Angel Azul is a beautifully filmed story of the coral reef and the people who are working to save it.  But before the film began I got a huge surprise.  I was honored with a Certificate of Appreciation. 

I was floored & humbled. I had no idea that they were going to do that.  Abby told me that they wanted to thank me for the bird conservation work I am trying to do.  It is hard work getting people to listen to these creatures who live with us on this planet and I love giving the birds a voice.   Britt Brown donated her photo of 3 Wilson's Plover chicks.  Hatched then color banded in June 2013.  These chicks were resighted as fledglings.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine Day's Great Backyard Bird Count Woodbine

Woodbine  is a lovely community 35 miles south and west of Jekyll Island.  It has converted it old railroad tracks into a Greenway.  The Woodbine's Women Club adopted this trail.  They put up bird feeders, so it is a natural place to invite a new birder to go birding.  So on Saturday February 14 Coastal Georgia Audubon (CGAS) with the Woodbine's Women Club invited the community to go birding. 

The Wednesday before CGAS President, Marge Inness teamed up with Janice of the Woodbine Women's Club and went into to the elementary school and the Head Start Program and did programs on birds.  Marge and Janice invited the young people out to the gazebo on Saturday to join in the Great Backyard Bird Count.  We had 17 young people come.  What fun it was.    Here are some pictures of the young people's activities.

 Kids had their hands full of pine cone feeders, Learning how bird build nests as well as learning to use binoculars.


 This was our youngest birder who had her very own bird book and binoculars.  She went out with the adults birding.
This Chipping Sparrow was very helpful and allowed everyone to see it.

                                                                                                        This event wasn't just for the young people there were adults that wanted to know about the birds.

Thank you all for coming out.  We had a perfect day for it.  The sky was clear.   It was chilly but this is winter.  The birds were all around us.