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Archive for the ‘Youth’ Category

I recently learned about a scholarship intended to increase diversity in the birding community. It is called the Black and Latinx Birders Scholarship, and it is run by an organization called Amplify the Future. This scholarship was founded in 2020 and seeks to amplify the successes of Black Birders and Latinx Birders by raising funds for annual scholarships and creating networks of support. This year, the American Bird Conservancy is partnering with Amplify the Future to match all donations to this scholarship up to $10,000!

Amplify The Future | LinkedIn

The website provides this information about the scholarship: “Through the Black and Latinx Birders Scholarship, we the committee seek to increase the number of Black Birders and Latinx Birders studying in STEM. Scholarship awards range from a minimum of $2,500 to a maximum of $5,000, depending on funding for the current year. The application period for the 2021-2022 school year will open February 2021. The deadline for application submissions is June 18, 2021.”

The website also has more information on eligibility, how to apply, etc.

So, go check out this great opportunity, pass it along to others who might be interested, and help support diversity in the birding community!

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On October 3rd, 2020 I took part in a very unusual bird-a-thon.

The Point Blue Conservation Science Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon is an event I have been participating in for about 20 years, now, and have written about numerous times on this blog (see the links at the bottom of this post to read some of them). The team I bird with is named the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings, and we are the longest running youth bird-a-thon team I know of. I started as a youth member of the team, and have now been the team leader for the past few years. It is a great team of very talented and passionate young birders.

The usual plan for the Sanderlings is to gather very early one morning in late September or early October in Marin County, and spend the entire day darting all over the county to find as many species of bird as we possibly can. It is always exhausting and exciting and terrific!

However, as with some many other aspects of life, 2020 is different. Instead of meeting in-person Point Blue decided on a few different ways for people to participate in the event. The Sanderlings decided to each go out and bird, and then combine each of our individual totals. This is not at all comparable to past bird-a-thon years since each team member would be in a different area and have access to different habitats with different species. But it is still a great way to go birding and raise funds for a terrific organization!

For myself, I decided to set a challenge of birding within the city limits of my home town, West Sacramento, CA. Unfortunately, the wildfires that are burning across much of state made the air quality pretty bad, so I was not able to stay out and bird for the whole day.

But, my West Sac Big (half)Day was still a fun challenge! I ended up finding 82 species! Some of my highlights included a late Barn Swallow; a single Greater White-fronted Goose; a wonderful mixed flock of Savannah Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows, Western Bluebirds, and Say’s Phoebes; a really spectacular Yellow Warbler that let me get really close; a handful of Blue-winged Teal mixed in among hundreds of Cinnamon Teal; lots of Lincoln’s Sparrows throughout the day; a flock of Sandhill Cranes bugling as they flew overhead; and stumbling upon a small flock of Least Sandpipers. Some notable species that I missed included Osprey, Fox Sparrow, and many of waterfowl that I thought I would get such as Snow Goose, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, and Gadwall.

This event ended up being a lot of fun even though it was a half day because of smoke and I was alone because of COVID-19. I am definitely interested in trying the West Sac Big Day again. Maybe in a different season (I think winter would probably get me the highest species total), and definitely for a whole day.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Wear a mask.

Here are some other posts on the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings:

https://abirdingnaturalist.wordpress.com/2019/11/13/the-2019-drakes-beach-sanderlings-bird-a-thon-report/

https://abirdingnaturalist.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/the-drakes-beach-sanderlings-rogue-year/

https://abirdingnaturalist.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/why-i-bird-a-thon/

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Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon 2019 logoPoint Blue Conservation Science has a blog called Science for a Blue Planet that highlights the great work done by this organization. The blog post reporting on the 2019 Bird-a-thon features the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings!  It is really wonderful to get this kind of acknowledgement, and exciting that the Sanderlings might be the high species total winner this year!

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Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon 2019 logo

What a day! What a day! What a day! The Drakes’ Beach Sanderlings participated again in the Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon on October 5th. The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings, which is Point Blue Conservation Science’s longest running youth bird-a-thon team, was a bird finding machine! Thanks to our amazing donors, our team raised over $2,500 this year! To each of our sponsors, thank you so much for your support!

IMG_20191005_122800

The 2019 Drake’s Beach Sanderlings birding on Drake’s Beach (from left to right: Susie, Max L., Oscar, Max B., Eddie, Connor, Lucas, and Aaron)

As usual, our day began very early. At 5:15am, and in the 39°F chill of the pre-dawn morning, we met at the Bear Valley Visitor Center. The sky was spectacularly clear which made for beautiful star-gazing but did not bode well for finding migrants later in the day. As soon as we got out of our cars, we realized we were surrounded by Great Horned Owls, and after a bit of listening, we added Spotted Owl to our list for the day! A good start!

The team stopped by Olema Marsh which irrupted in a cacophony of Virginia Rails as soon as we clapped for them! We then sped off to Five Brooks Pond where we tried to find more owls while it was still dark. As dawn approached, we were treated to a terrific mixed flock of Bushtits, both species of Kinglet, and lots and lots of Townsends Warblers. We then drove past Bolinas Lagoon and birded Stinson Beach.

Leaving Stinson Beach we broke into the Oreos and headed for the Outer Point! It was still early, and a quick overview of the species list showed that we had already found over 100 species by the time we reached the Outer Point! This put us ahead of schedule on both time and species.

Confirming our concerns from the morning, the clear skies the night before resulted in there being no vagrant birds anywhere on the Outer Point, though there were tons of Red-breasted Nuthatches. It was somewhat frustrating to find no unusual birds at Chimney Rock or Drake’s Beach, but we did not get too attached to birding the area and left to head east. We did stop at an overlook near Chimney Rock to find Black Oystercatchers and got to watch a pod of Humpbacked Whales feeding off the coast.

IMG_20191005_115137.jpg

Drake’s Beach Sanderlings team members Max L., Oscar, Max B., and Connor searching for Black Oystercatchers near Chimney Rock.

The team then started zig-zagging across the east half of the county picking up more bird species all along the way. We certainly had some ups and downs. We made some targeted stops for particular species that mostly worked in our favor. The ponds at the Las Gallinas Water Treatment Plant were the emptiest I have ever seen them, but a quick change of course to the Hamilton Wetlands was gangbusters! As usual, we ended at our customary final stop at an east San Rafael marsh where the Ridgeway’s Rails were calling before we even got out of the car!

Over the course of the day, the team moved incredibly efficiently. When a site was not producing the species we were hoping for, we quickly made decisions to abandon those stops and to go look elsewhere. The knowledge of all the team members came together to produce a cornucopia of species even though we did not find a single species that would be considered noteworthy for Marin County. The list we ended up with included 162 species as a group, and 2 more that were only seen by a single team member and so don’t quite count! The full list is on the next page. We all had an amazing day. We enjoyed every bird, ate a lot of cookies, and shared a lot of stories and knowledge. All the things that make the Sanderlings great!

I want to thank all those who supported this team. The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings is a very special group that I am honored to lead, and passionate to see continue. With the support of our sponsors, we all help promote bird conservation and climate science, and also something more. We help to show the role that young people can play. Bringing in funding in an event like this reminds the world, and the birding community in particular, that dedicated young birders can and do make significant contributions to the cause of protecting our world. I hope that all our sponsors return next year to support us again, and all those who did not sponsor us this year will consider joining the cause next year. I can’t wait!

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Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon 2019 logo

Dear Sponsor,

The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings was the first, and is the longest running, youth Bird-a-thon team that the Point Reyes Bird Observatory has ever organized. I was one of the founding youth members and am now the team leader.

Since its beginning, the Sanderlings have established a very successful tradition of crisscrossing Marin County every fall, finding as many bird species as possible in twenty-four hours, and raising money for bird research and conservation. During the 2018 bird-a-thon, the Sanderlings were particularly successful when we found more bird species than any other team that year! Over the years our team members have changed as our youths get older, move away, or enter college. Wherever they have spread, Sanderlings members carry a passion for birds and nature with them that was, in part, nurtured by our team.

We are now preparing for our 2019 bird-a-thon! To support this team, I would like to invite you to become a sponsor of the Sanderlings. Your support sends a powerful message to the birding community that a team of young people can make an important contribution to bird conservation. This year, the Sanderlings bird-a-thon will be on October 5th. When you become a sponsor, I will be sure to let you know how the day goes.

Becoming a sponsor is easy! Just go to: https://pointblue.securesweet.com/contribute_paymentspring.asp?userid=1&fundid=832 and enter your info, or follow the QR code, below. I hope you are able to support this wonderful team. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

 

Sincerely,

Aaron

Drake’s Beach Sanderlings Team Leader

QR Code - blog

Sanderlings 2018 Team Photo

The 2018 Drake’s Beach Sanderlings.

 

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Winter rains are sources of terrific fun at my house. My daughter and I love rain walks, and now that she is getting used to a larger bike, rain bike rides are becoming another fun activity to add into the mix.

Earthworm 01During a recent rain walk, we were peering into puddles to see what we could see when we spotted a few earthworms submerged in the water.

“Uh oh,” I said “Let’s rescue those worms so they don’t drown.”

“Worms don’t drown.” Said my daughter.

“They don’t?” I asked.

“No, they don’t drown when it rains.” She answered.

I will confess, I was doubtful about this. I have grown up knowing that earthworms come out of the soil when it rains because all their tunnels are flooded. I have also grown up knowing that if earthworms wander into a pool of water, they will drown. So, asked my daughter where she had heard that earthworms don’t drown. She told me that she had been watching a nature show, and that it included a section on earthworms, and it included the information that earthworms don’t drown in water. I was surprised to hear this, and was still a little skeptical.

When we got back to the house, we were telling my wife about our adventures, and the worms came up. My wife also said how sad it was to see worms drown in the rain, and my daughter jumped in with the information about worms not drowning. My wife was as surprised as I was having grown up with the same information on this topic that I did.

But, my daughter was sure she was right, and when we did a little online search it turned out she was absolutely right to be so sure.

Earthworms Don’t Drown!

I could not have been more proud of my daughter at this point. She knew she was right and stuck to her guns. And she taught me that something I had believed was true was actually false, and replaced that false information with truth. So proud!

Here is the new information I learned.

Earthworm 02Earthworms need moisture to breath, which they do through their skin. As long as there is sufficient oxygen dissolved in the water, worms can survive for extended periods of time (we are talking three days or more) completely submerged with no ill effect. No one is completely sure why earthworms emerge from the soil when it rains, but one of the leading hypotheses is that they are taking advantage of the moisture above ground to disperse into new habitats and find new mates. The rain allows them to move across areas that would otherwise be too dry and/or too far away for them the reach when it is not raining.

So, if you see some worms wandering around on the surface the next time it rains, maybe crossing the sidewalk, give them a hand and help them on their journey. But, don’t worry that they have been forced out of their burrows by the threat posed by all the water. Because, as my daughter taught me, they don’t drown!

 

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Dear Sponsor (I hope!),

About twenty years ago, the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO) founded a new bird-a-thon team named the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings. The Sanderlings was particularly noteworthy because it was the first youth Bird-a-thon team that PRBO had ever organized. It was an exciting event! I remember, because I was one of the first youth members of the Sanderlings.

In the years since, the Sanderlings (myself included) have continued a very successful tradition of taking to the field every fall to crisscross Marin County, finding as many bird species as possible in twenty-four hours, and raising money for bird research and conservation. This makes the Sanderlings the longest running youth bird-a-thon team I am aware of! It is certainly the longest running such team in California. The team has included a shifting variety of members as our youths have gotten older, moved away, and/or gone to college. Wherever they have spread to, they have carried with them a passion for birds and nature that was, in part, nurtured by the Sanderlings.

Sanderling, adult winter (John C. Avise)

The team’s namesake, a Sanderling

Until his death, the Sanderlings were led by the legendary Rich Stallcup along with former PRBO board member Ellen Blustein. After Rich passed away, I was invited to co-lead the team with Ellen, and I have been honored to do so every year since. This year Ellen has decided to step down as a team leader which marks the latest change in the history of the team. PRBO has changed as well, including a name change to Point Blue Conservation Science.

In this modern age, youth participation in conservation, both globally and locally, has never been more important. However, there is growing concern that birds will not be able to compete with digital sources for the attention of what could be the next generation of conservation leaders. Teams like the Sanderlings help to engage youths with birds and the natural world.

To support and continue to encourage youth engagement in the natural world, I would like to invite you to become a sponsor of the Sanderlings. Your support sends a powerful message that a team like the Sanderlings should continue to be taken seriously and continue to grow. This year, the Sanderlings bird-a-thon will be on September 29th, and if you do choose to become a sponsor, I will be sure to let you know how the day goes.

To become a sponsor, go to: http://pointblue.blueskysweet.com/teampage.asp?fundid=800#.W3xRM-hKi70 and click the DONATE NOW button. I hope you think we are worthy of your support. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

Sincerely,

Aaron

Drake’s Beach Sanderlings Team Leader

510-289-7239

agincourt82@hotmail.com

 

 

 

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Parasitic JaegerDear Friend,

The Bird-a-Thon: Rogue Year has happened! And what a terrific day it was. This year the team consisted of Jonah Benningfield, Max Benningfield, Oscar Moss, Eddie Monson, and Connor Cochrane with Catherine Berner, Ellen Blustein and Aaron Haiman as organizers.    The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings was the first, and is the longest running youth bird-a-thon team supported by Point Blue Conservation Science. Over the past 15+ years, this extraordinary team has helped to foster 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 spread into a wide range of endeavors across the globe!

Starting at 5:30 am at the Bear Valley Visitor Center, we heard several owls including a Northern Saw-Whet Owl! From there we began our zigzagging across the county. We found a Swamp Sparrow and a Herring Gull along Bolinas Lagoon; Whimbrel, Parasitic Jaegers, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows at Stinson Beach; found a Blackpole Warbler, a Townsend’s Solitaire, and a Ferruginous Hawk at some of the ranches on the Outer Point, a Horned Grebe and a flock of Sanderlings on Drake’s Beach (yes the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings team watched Sanderlings on Drake’s Beach); a Wilson’s Snipe at Stafford Lake; and we ended with several very cooperative Ridgeway’s Rails calling as we got out of the car; and many, many more. All in all this year, the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings birded for over 14 hours and saw 139 species of bird!

Additional species that we saw included lots of mammals such as Mule Deer, Grey Fox, Coyote, Harbor Porpoise, and Northern Elephant Seal; and insects such as Black Saddlebags, Seven-spotted Skimmer, and lots and lots of Monarchs.

Since Point Blue Conservation Science was not able to organize the bird-a-thon this year, we went out on our own: The Rogue Year! Without support from Point Blue we have had no assistance getting the word out about our event, so we need all the help we can get. And you can still donate to the Sanderlings! By donating a fixed amount (such as $15.00) or an amount per species (such as $0.25/species), you encourage young people to go out and engage with birds, the natural world, and to work for a better future.

Donating is easy! Just mail a check, made out to Point Blue Conservation Science, to me at: 203 Touchstone Pl, West Sacramento, CA 95691 I will collect the donations and send them to Point Blue.

We very much appreciate your support for the Sanderlings Bird-a-thon: Rogue Year. 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

Sanderlings Team 2017

The 2017 Drake’s Beach Sanderlings

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Parasitic Jaeger

Parasitic Jeager. One of the early names that the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings tried out was The Jeagers.

Dear Friend,

For more than 15 years, the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings have participated in the Point Blue Conservation Science Rich Stallcup Bird-a-thon. During that time, dozens of young birders have had the opportunity to learn about birds, bird conservation, and ecosystem stewardship.

The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings was the first youth bird-a-thon team supported by Point Blue Conservation Science. Over the years, this extraordinary team has 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 spread into a wide range of endeavors.

Last year, in 2016, the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings birded for over 14 hours, covered over 100 miles zig-zagging across Marin County, saw a total of 131 species of bird, and raised over $3,000!

This year is going to be the same in some ways, and very different in others. Some of the similarities are that the Sanderlings are going out again, this year on the 23rd of September, to crisscross Marin County. We will be visiting all our favorite spots, and probably a few new ones, to find as many species of bird as we possibly can. One of the biggest differences is going to be that this is not an official Point Blue bird-a-thon! Due to staffing issues, among other things, Point Blue Conservation Science will not be able to support and run the Bird-a-thon. This is only a temporary situation, and Point Blue is fully planning on reinvigorating the bird-a-thon in 2018. However, it means that those of us who are still committed to the bird-a-thon cause are going rogue this year. It also means that we really need your help! With no support from Point Blue, we are on our own conducting outreach, and generating enthusiasm and dollars, for bird research and conservation!

Sanderlings Team 1

The Drake’s Beach Sanderlings birding Drake’s Beach during the 2016 bird-a-thon.

With the help of sponsors like you, we have helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for environmental stewardship and conservation of the ecosystems on which we all depend. Your support of the Drake’s Beach Sanderlings encourages young people to go out and engage with birds and the natural world, and work for a better future.

So join us and donate a fixed amount (like $15.00) or an amount per species (like $0.25/species). Your support provides opportunities for young and old to engage in 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 mail a check, made out to Point Blue Conservation Science, to me at: 203 Touchstone Pl, West Sacramento, CA 95691

We very much appreciate your support for the Sanderlings Bird-a-thon: The Rogue Year. 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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Information is important. With information each of us as individuals, and our society as a whole, can learn about the world. With information, we can all make decisions that make sense. With information, we can all discuss ideas.

Without information none of that is possible. Without information, we are, at best, at the mercy of our current, limited knowledge, and our base instincts. Without information we are, at worst, at the mercy of the limited knowledge and instincts of someone else.

This is why the gag order, and insistence that all reports and data be pre-screened before release to the public, issued by the President to the EPA are so concerning to me, and I think should be so concerning everyone else. This is exactly the kind of action that limits access to, and spread of, information. It will only hamper all of our abilities to operate as rational, critically thinking individuals. It is the kind of action that is put in place to control what we, as citizens, know and when we know it. This is censorship and it has no place in science or a free society.

#thisisnotnormal

pansy-white-blue

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