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Archive for the ‘Point Blue Conservation Science’ Category

PBCS logoOn Saturday, I had the pleasure and privilege of being the MC for the awards celebration at the Point Blue Conservation Science 2016 Bird-a-thon dinner. It was a terrific evening that the staff of Point Blue had put a lot of work into to make run so smoothly.

This was a celebration of the 39th annual Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon (learn more about it here) which is a fund raiser where teams of birders go out into the county of their choice and bird for a 24 hours period each fall. These teams collect sponsors who donate money to Point Blue in fixed sums or on a per-species basis. It is a great event that gets people out to enjoy the natural world, see a lot of different species of bird (and other wildlife), and raises money for bird research and conservation of birds and of the whole ecosystems in which they, and we, live.

stallcup-juliet-grable

Rich Stallcup doing what he loved (photo by Juliet Grable)

The Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon (named for the late great Rich Stallcup who played a huge roll in founding the Point Reyes Bird Observatory that later became Point Blue Conservation Science and also in inspiring several generations of birders and naturalists) has raised over $3 million over its 39 year history making it the longest running event of its kind in the USA!

The 2016 Bird-a-thon, collectively, saw 266 species of birds, raised more than $82 thousand, and included dozens of teams comprised of several hundred individual counters.

At the awards dinner, we recognized individuals and teams who raised the most money, who competed for the most species seen per county, who competed as green teams (meaning that no fossil fuels were used during the actual count). We also recognized the contributions of the youth teams, of which there were three this year, and one of which I co-led.

In addition to the awards, Wendell Gilgert, the director of the Point Blue Rangeland Watershed Initiative, gave a presentation on the importance of rangelands in protecting biodiversity, reducing greenhouse gas levels, and storing water. It was a fantastic presentation that I think exposed even the most experienced birders in the audience to some new information and a novel way of looking at biodiversity to read the health of a landscape.

It truly was a lovely evening in the company of a bunch of passionate bird nuts, and I am very much looking forward to the 2017 bird-a-thon! I hope you will join us!

 

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PBCS logoThe Drake’s Beach Sanderlings 

A Point Blue Conservation Science, Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon Team

Dear Sponsor,

The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings met again this year on the 24th of September for our 17th annual Bird-a-thon. As always, this was a fast paced day with a lot of jumping in and out of cars at sites all over Marin County. This year was another drought year for California with little or no water at many of the sites visited. Additionally, with a light breeze and clear skies for the proceeding several nights, many migrants were able to continue their journeys. This resulted in some very quiet sites. But each quiet site only inspired us to search every bramble, examine every bird, and after a day of fighting for every species, we ended with a lot of birds on our list and had a simply splendid day!

sanderlings-team

The 2016 Sanderlings group photo (Photo by Cheryl Ishida).

The team, this year was comprised of Ellen Blustein, Aaron Haiman, Catherine Berner, Lyell Nesbitt, Jonah Benningfield, Max Benningfield, John Myles, Eddie Monson, and Connor Cochrane. And the level of enthusiasm on this year’s bird-a-thon was at a particularly high mark which made the day particularly special.

We began at the Bear Valley Visitor Center to try to hear some owls. Under a spectacular starry sky, this was our first indication that we were going to have to work hard for our species. Generally, the Great Horned Owls around Bear Valley, but that morning was silent. We quickly decided to move on and headed to Olema Marsh where Ellen clapped the rails into chorus. Then it was off to Five Brooks Pond where we finally heard Great Horned Owls calling back and forth. After searching for songbirds despite a very mild dawn chorus we began our crisscrossing of Marin from Stinson Beach to the Outer Point to the interior of the county and the east side. Some of the birds and stops that were especially notable included: the Swainson’s Thrushes we heard at Five Brooks; a little flock of Pygmy Nuthatches and a spectacular set of chases by Parasitic Jaegers going after Brown Pelicans or Elegant Terns at Stinson Beach; while the ranches on the Outer Point were pretty empty, we did enjoy the flocks of Tricolored Blackbirds, and at our stop at the Elephant Seal Overlook we were treated to a Black Oystercatcher and a Rock Wren which are both species we usually miss;  at Las Gallinas we picked up a Palm Warbler and a Lesser Scaup! Finally we ended at the Embassy Suites Marsh for a final Ridgeway’s Rail as the sun set!

sanderlings-team-1

The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings birding on Drake’s Beach (Photo by Kristin Myles)

After all was said and done, and we had searched Marin County for 14 hours, we spotted a total of 131 bird species (see below) and learned and laughed a lot! It was terrific to be out in the field with such a great group, and we are already looking forward to next year.

Thank you for your support of this amazing team, of Point Blue Conservation Science, and of birds in general. Your donation will be used to help study and protect birds and the ecosystems in which they live against climate change and habitat loss. It also sends an important message that people care about the natural world. We hope you will choose to support us again in the future.

With Gratitude,

The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings

 

Total Species List 2016:

Birds:

Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon, Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Western Grebe, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, Double-Crested Cormorant, Brandt’s Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant, Great-Blue Heron, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Green-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoter, Red-breasted Merganser, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, White-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, California Quail, Ridgeway’s Rail, Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Gallinule, American Coot, Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Black Oystercatcher, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Least Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Parasitic Jaeger, Heermann’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull, California Gull, Herring Gull, Western Gull, Glacous-winged Gull, Elegant Tern, Forester’s Tern, Common Murre, Pigeon Guillemot, Mourning Dove, Band-tailed Pigeon, Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, Vaux’s Swift, Anna’s Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Acorn Woodpecker, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pacific Slope Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Say’s Phoebe, Barn Swallow, Steller’s Jay, California Scrub-Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Oak Titmouse, Bushtit, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Rock Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Pacific Wren, Marsh Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Bluebird, Swainson’s Thrush, American Robin, Wrentit, Northern Mockingbird, Hutton’s Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Townsend’s Warbler, Palm Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Spotted Towhee, California Towhee, Savannah Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, Tricolored Blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch, Mute Swan, Wild Turkey, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collard-Dove, European Starling, House Sparrow

Mammals:

Stripped Skunk, Coyote, Raccoon, Mule Deer, Humpback Whale, Harbor Seal, Sonoma Chipmunk, River Otter, Grey Fox

Insects:

Monarch, Western Tiger-Swallowtail, Green Darner, Black Saddlebags, Vivid Dancer

 

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It was late summer of 2000 when I received a phone call from Ellen Blustein. I knew Ellen from birding on the hawkwatching team she led for the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, from helping on her South San Rafael Christmas Bird Count, and other shared bird walks over the years. The reason for this particular phone call was that earlier that year, Leica Sports Optik made a contribution to, then, PRBO to sponsor the creation of a youth bird-a-thon team. Rich Stallcup and Ellen had agreed to organize and lead the team that fall. Going off our birding history together, Ellen wanted to know if I might be interested in being one of the youths. Of course I was delighted to be invited and said yes right away. Ellen also asked if my brother, Joshua Haiman, and two close friends, Christopher Berner and Frazer Meacham, who were also serious young birders, would join the team as well. All agreed, and the youth bird-a-thon team had its founding members.

In late September of 2000, the six of us met, with my mom, Ann Kositsky, along as the responsible adult for the teens, and piled into a rented van for the first Leica/PRBO Youth Bird-a-thon. We had an amazing day with beautiful weather, terrific companions, a disturbing amount of food (remember that there were four teenage boys in that van), and a total of 157 species seen. Some of the highlights that I still remember included hearing Spotted and Saw-whet Owls at the Bear Valley Visitor Center, finding a Black Rail in the marshes of Pine Gulch, seeing my first Pomarine Jaeger off Stinson Beach, and finding a Chestnut-sided Warbler and a Yellow-headed Blackbird while stopping at the Outer Point. That first youth bird-a-thon was such a great success that almost every year since, in late September or early October, the youth team has continued to meet. The only year we did not take to the field was 2012 when Rich’s health was declining.

Sanderling, adult winter (John C. Avise)

A Sanderling in basic plumage (Photo by John C. Avise)

Over the last 15+ years, we have gone through a few name changes as sponsors have come and gone and PRBO became PRBO Conservation Science and now Point Blue Conservation Science. A few years in, we settled on ‘The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings’ for our official team name and it has really stuck. Our membership has also changed as new, passionate young birders have joined our team and our older members have dispersed to colleges, other bird-a-thon teams, and other pursuits. We have had over 30 youth members and all are still passionate about the natural world. Many have gone on to pursue careers in biology in one form or another. Our total species counts for our bird-a-thon have ranged from 132 to 170 species including lifers for all our members.

One of the features that I have been struck by, as our members and former members have moved out into the world, is the diverse paths that this set of young people are taking. From psychology to computer programing, the people who have participated in the youth bird-a-thon are spreading across the globe. But all share a love and passion for birds, nature, and wildness. This is the passion that the youth bird-a-thon aims at fostering, and they are carrying this passion out into the world with them. As one of the founding youth members of the Youth Bird-a-thon team in 2000, and having been a participant almost every year since, I have witnessed this amazing process first hand. Every year it has been a special honor to participate. Being able to spend a day birding at the side of birders such as Ellen Bluestein and Rich Stallcup guaranteed that I would gain knowledge; and wisdom as well. With wonderful birds to see, special parts of Marin County to explore, and terrific team members to share and learn with, the PBCS Youth Bird-a-thon is one of the highlights of my year. I am very excited to now be co-leading the team and experiencing the bird-a-thon in a whole new way.

MASCOT-2016-Wrentit

Wrentit (2015 Bird-a-thon logo)

Year after year, the youth members, from the age of 5 years old and up, have shown that ‘adulthood’ is not a required component for serious birding, and also that kids can play an important and significant role in birding culture and conservation as a whole. Hard work, energy, and enthusiasm have earned these kids the respect of their peers, and each stands as a reminder of what young people can accomplish when given the opportunity. By making a donation in support of the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings, or any other youth team, you are supporting the next generation of birders and conservationists; you are supporting the future of birding. So, this year, I hope you decide to do just that.

To donate and support the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings, follow this link, and click on the ‘Donate’ button on the right side of the page.

See you in the field!

Aaron N.K. Haiman

 

 

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Dear Friends,

MASCOT-2016-Wrentit

Wrentit (2015 PBCS Bird-a-thon mascot)

Over fifteen years ago, I was one of the founding youth members of a youth bird-a-thon team. The team was organized and lead by birding greats Rich Stallcup and Ellen Blustein as the first youth team for what was then, the Point Reyes Bird Observatory and what is now Point Blue Conservation Science (PBCS). It was an amazing experience, and has turned into a recurring amazing experience every year since. We are now preparing for the youth bird-a-thon, again, and this year is looking like another spectacular one.

Over the past 15+ years, this team has taken to the field alongside so many amazing birds as they get restless and begin to move on their fall migration. For the birds, fall migration has been happening almost exactly the same way for millions of years, and it is still a feat that boggles the human imagination. For our bird-a-thon team, the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings, fall migration has come to include this exhilarating day to witnesses the birds as they move through central California.

Each year many bird-a-thon teams ready themselves for the fall. These teams pick a day in mid-fall and go in search of the avian wanderers as they pass by; keeping tallies of who stops to visit. On September 24th 2016, the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings will be doing just that, and we are lining up another great group of youths (in age and spirit) to find all those birds!

As in past years, this is not only an opportunity to see beautiful birds, learn as much about migration patterns and identification as possible, and spend time in great company. It is also a time to give. The PBCS is a recognized leader in conservation of avian biodiversity, the ecosystems that they, and we, depend upon, and climate change science. To continue to be such an influential leader requires money. It takes money to keep the banding stations running as they monitor avian population trends. It takes money to assess the loss of habitat that urban development causes. It takes money to set aside critical habitat and so insure that future fall migrations will continue this millions-of-years tradition. Funding is often hard to come by, and so we ask you, birders, environmentalists, friends, to become sponsors of our team and PBCS. Now, don’t think we won’t work for those donations. You can pledge a fixed sum, or you can tell us that you will give a small amount for every species we see. That way we will have a large incentive indeed to try our hardest to find every last species we can. In the past we have seen around 150 species, so a pledge of $0.20 per species will mean a total donation of around $30. Any amount that you can give will be valuable and tremendously appreciated, and donating is easy. Just go to: http://birdathon.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1164352&lis=0&kntae1164352=3E274B2B05C54EDE984F8053552EF68D&team=6822398

and click on the ‘Donate Now’ button on the right side of the page. In this time of epic drought in California, the conservation of habitat and bird populations is all the more challenging and critical. Your donation will aid the cause of bird conservation throughout the western hemisphere, and you will join a long tradition of helping to inspire the birding leaders of tomorrow!

Thank you for your support,

The members of the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings

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MASCOT-2016-Wrentit

Wrentit (the 2015 Bird-a-thon mascot)

Dear Friends,

For over 15 years, The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings have participated in the Point Blue Conservation Science Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon, and in so doing provided dozens of young birders the opportunity learn about birds, bird conservation, and ecosystem stewardship.

Planning for the 2016 Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon is underway now and your help is needed for this event’s continued success! Sponsor support has provided thousands of dollars towards environmental stewardship and conservation of the ecosystems on which we all depend. Further, your support of the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings encourages young people to go out and engage with birds, the birding community, and the natural world as a whole.

We can meet the challenges that the future is presenting, but it will only be possible with the generous contributions of our sponsors.

The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings take pride in their tradition of providing education and stewardship for young and old. Participants learn how to protect the environment and the avian creatures we love so much. We also visit a wide range of locations and habitats and so gain a better understanding of the range of biodiversity that exists in Marin County.

PBCS logoThe Drake’s Beach Sanderlings was the first youth bird-a-thon team supported by Point Blue Conservation Science. Over the years, the extraordinary efforts conducted by members of this team have helped to foster a deep seated passion for wildlife and conservation in young people. These young people have then carried that passion and knowledge into the world with them as they have expanded and spread to a wide range of endeavors.

I am excited to report that in the 2015 Bird-a-thon, the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings:

  • Birded for over 14 hours, beginning at 5:30am.
  • Covered over 100 miles, zig-zagging across Marin County.
  • Saw a total of 142 species of bird.

As we prepare for the 2016 Drake’s Beach Sanderlings Bird-a-thon, we know the time and support of our team members is priceless, but the financial support from you and others like you is what makes it possible for the bird-a-thon and Point Blue to grow and improve year after year.

So stand out as a leader! Donate $15.00 or whatever you can as a sponsor of the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings. Your support provides opportunities for young and old to demonstrate environmental stewardship, experience the rewards of connecting with their environment, and make a real difference in their communities and the world. And donating is easy! Just go to our team website: http://birdathon.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1164352&lis=0&kntae1164352=3E274B2B05C54EDE984F8053552EF68D&team=6822398 and click on the “Donate” button.

We very much appreciate your support. If you have any questions about The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings, the Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon, or our any other aspect of this event please e-mail or call me at aaron.haiman@deltaconservancy.ca.gov or 510-289-7239.

Sincerely,

Aaron N.K. Haiman

Drake’s Beach Sanderlings Team Co-Leader

 

 

 

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Dear Friend,

Fifteen years ago, I was one of the founding youth members of a youth bird-a-thon team. The team was organized and lead by birding greats Rich Stallcup and Ellen Blustein as the first youth team for what was then, the Point Reyes Bird Observatory and what is now Point Blue Conservation Science (PBCS). It was an amazing experience, and has turned into a recurring amazing experience every year since. We are now preparing for the youth bird-a-thon, again, and since this year is our 15th, it makes it a particularly special one, or at least note-worthy.

Over the past 15 years, this team has taken to the field alongside so many amazing birds as they get restless and begin to move on their fall migration. For the birds, fall migration has been happening almost exactly the same way for millions of years, and it is still a feat that boggles the human imagination. For our bird-a-thon team, the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings, fall migration has come to include this exhilarating day to witnesses the birds as they move through central California.

Each year many bird-a-thon teams ready themselves for the fall. These teams pick a day and go out in search of the avian wanderers as they pass by; keeping tallies of who stops to visit. On September 26th 2015, the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings will be doing just that, and we are lining up another great group of youths (in age and spirit)!

As in past years, this is not only an opportunity to see beautiful birds, learn as much about migration patterns and identification as possible, and spend time in great company. It is also a time to give. The PBCS is a recognized leader in conservation of avian biodiversity and the ecosystems that they, and we, depend upon. To do this requires money. It takes money to keep the banding stations running as they monitor population trends. It takes money to assess the loss of habitat that urban development causes. It takes money to set aside critical habitat and so insure that future fall migrations will continue this millions-of-years tradition. Funding is often hard to come by, and so we ask you, birders, environmentalists, friends, to become sponsors of our team and PBCS. Now, don’t think we won’t work for those donations. You can pledge a fixed sum, or you can tell us that you will give a small amount for every species we see. That way we will have a large incentive indeed to try our hardest to find every last species we can. In the past we have seen around 150 species, so a pledge of $0.20 per species will mean a total donation of around $30. Any amount that you can give will be valuable and tremendously appreciated, and donating is easy. Just go to: https://www.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1144989&lis=1&kntae1144989=C5D14E3E269D41A49AD34C0C31A09C59&supId=425784227&team=6495414

and click on the ‘Donate Now’ button on the right side of the page. In this time of drought, the conservation of habitat and bird populations is all the more challenging and critical. Your donation will aid the cause of bird conservation throughout the western hemisphere, and you will join a fifteen year long tradition of helping to inspire the birding leaders of tomorrow!

Thank you for your support,

The members of the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings

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