Volunteers needed for SF Bay shorebird survey Nov 13-15 (23-25 raindates); volunteers also sought to lead shorebird ID trainings
- Volunteers Sought for San Francisco Bay Shorebird Count!
What: A comprehensive count of the shorebirds of San Francisco Bay.
When: November 13-15, or in case of heavy storms November 23-25
Where: Along all San Francisco Bay tidal wetland habitats and high tide roosts.
Who: YOU! Birders of all skill levels are needed. Highly experienced birders can lead area counts and beginning birders will have the opportunity to learn from the experts.
Why: Millions of shorebirds use the San Francisco Bay marshes, salt ponds, tidal flats, and other wetlands during the migratory and winter months. The San Francisco Bay is one of the most important wintering sites for North America’s shorebirds, holding higher proportions of the total wintering and migrating shorebirds than any other wetland on the U.S. Pacific Coast.
Salt pond restoration, sea level rise, global climate change, invasive species, and acute events such as the Cosco Busan oil spill of 2007 can have dramatic effects on shorebirds of the Bay. The 2008 survey will tell us 1) how many shorebirds are using the Bay, and 2) how are they distributed. Tracking shorebird population and distribution changes in relation to habitat change and other impacts allows for adaptive management geared towards protection and enhancement of the Bay’s sensitive wildlife resources.
Logistics and details for the 2008 count:
•The surveys will be in the morning (probably 8am-ish) and last 3-6 hours, depending on the survey location and number of shorebirds to be counted.
•South Bay is the area south of the San Mateo Bridge will be counted Thursday Nov. 13th; North Bay is from San Rafael and Richmond north (San Pablo Bay) and will be counted Friday Nov. 14th, and Central Bay is the area in-between the North and South Bays and will be counted Saturday Nov. 15th. In case of heavy rain, alternate dates are Central Bay Sunday Nov 23, South Bay Monday Nov 24, and North Bay Tuesday Nov 25.
•You may count on all 3 days or as few as 1 day.
•All skill levels are welcome, as we will be going out in pairs/teams. Site leaders must be able to readily identify species on the attached list and feel confident in their ability to count roosting shorebirds. Leaders should be equipped with a spotting scope as well as binoculars. Less experienced shorebird censusers will play an important role in assisting site leaders with counting, identification, and data collection.
•Shorebird ID training sessions are being planned, details to follow
Get involved! Contact:
Mike Perlmutter, Bay Area Conservation Coordinator, Audubon California
In your reply, please indicate the following:
1.Your availability over the 3 day survey period and backup raindates given the locations for each date.
2.Census location preference (please indicate if you have conducted the survey in the past and would like to keep or change sites)
3.Your level of shorebird censusing skill.
4.Your phone number, email, and mailing address
5.Feedback from last year, if applicable and necessary
6.If your local Audubon chapter would like to “adopt” a part of the shoreline to survey this year and in future years
7. If you are able and interested in leading or helping to lead shorebird identification trainings prior to the survey.
Shorebirds in San Francisco Bay: Project Update
More Shorebirds Using Restored Habitats in the North Bay
In 2007, we completed the second consecutive comprehensive shorebird count of San Francisco Bay. Working together, the partner organizations (Audubon California, San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, PRBO Conservation Science, USGS, USFWS) and over 100 Bay Area citizen scientists counted more than 329,000 shorebirds throughout San Francisco Bay. These recent shorebird surveys replicate a set of surveys conducted over a decade ago and allow us to measure change in the distribution and abundance of shorebirds.
San Francisco Bay was designated a site of hemispheric importance to shorebirds (by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network) based the high numbers derived from these surveys.
Preliminary results indicate that the November 2007 count was the second lowest for total shorebirds of all our November surveys (1990, 1991, 1992, 2006 and 2007). The highest total we found, in 1990 was more than 357,000.
As in 2006, the most abundant species detected throughout the Bay in 2007 was the Western Sandpiper (31% of total birds), followed by Dunlin (18%), Least Sandpiper (11%), American Avocet (10%), and Willet (8%). Counts for Western Sandpiper and Dunlin in the area between San Francisco and Palo Alto were much lower than a decade ago. Over the past 15 years there has been a clear shift in the distributions of medium and large shorebird species to the North Bay. The biggest increases occurred along the northern shoreline of San Pablo Bay, where large tracts of retired salt ponds have been opened up to tidal action.
We are currently seeking funding to analyze the changes in shorebird distribution and abundance over the last 15 years and to relate these changes to changes in the landscape that are due to wetland restoration and management, development, and other actions. We aim to publish our results and distribute them widely, to help various agencies and environmental groups involved in land acquisition or stewardship make informed decisions based on sound science.