Monday, May 23, 2011

A SESA in my Hand!

I was nearly hyperventilating when I learned I would handle my first shorebird "catch". I've waited out numerous Sundays at the Field House hoping for such. The team works 24/7...... so Sundays are as low-key as possible..... and tourist disturbances discourage a "catch day".
This blustery Sunday afternoon the "walk-in traps" were set at a rising high tide for Semi-palmated Sandpipers a.k.a. SESA. I peered out the "conservatory" watching the team. By the body language alone I could tell this would take a while and the catch would be small.
At last 5 hapless SESA's foraged their way in to the burlap box; popping up and down like giant popcorn kernels. First outside the birds were "bled" for examination of bacteria. The physical measurements were taken inside at the " computer data lounge" despite the fact that an escaped bird would create utter havoc. Micrograms of chopped feathers destined for gas-chromatograph analysis could go up in "smoke" decimating 100's of hours of good data.
I sat next to Richard as he deftly handled and analyzed each bird. The SESA was trying to keep calm and was 100% aware. I was trying to keep calm!
Watching the SESA stuffed into his tube and then out again after weighing was comical.
Finally my moment arrived outside on the bay beach. I learned how to receive and "let go" my 25 gram charge of beating feathers. My SESA's took a second or two for their GPS to re-set and off they went with a date soon for Arctic arrival!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Red Knot Reunion

All year I live for the first sight of the returning Red Knots and their International Fans being the DNREC Shorebird Project Team.
When I walk into the field house immediately I pick up the excitement. Will it be high anxiety or happy exuberance?
Luckily the Red Knots are arriving in nice numbers so happy faces surrounded the breakfast meeting table. Last year it was 3 weeks of non-stop anxiety.
Out I went with the Netherlands' Red Knot PHD student Katrina and her adoring "Assistant" to survey Fowlers Beach and Primehook.
The six foot plus, gorgeous Katrina amazed me as she glided over the sand, on her shoulder perfectly balancing her $3,000.00 telescope. I trudged along trying to keep the scope from banging and bruising my arm!
Fowlers Beach Impoundment gave us a heart stopping view of 60 plus Black Skimmers neatly tucked into a sand bar. When we found the ~ 15 Red Knots tucked in between the usual sushi-eating-green-eggs-sumi-wrestler-comrades I broke into tears.
Shorebirds, how I have missed you!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Little Town of DE!

This would never happen in my Big State of Pennsylvania.
My Sunday plan was to Bird at Prime Hook Preserve. Hey, I got there early....... @ 9AM! I smiled as I saw the parking lot was full of vehicles. So where were the birders who started at 7AM?
We quickly found each other. The monthly Sunday group of ~ 20 was led by our very own Rob Schroeder who had been hailing me since the moment I pulled into the parking lot.
I pleaded to join the group and into a truck I went for three wonderful hours of birding. I broke into tears when again I was amidst my favorite Shorebird Crew!
Delaware is a little town. All of IT!
Try doing this in Pennsylvania....... it would never happen. Even if you found yourself at a State Park birding and there was another bird group....... the parks are too big to "run into each other" and who in the group would even know me.
Delaware Knows My Name!