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Seafarers Worldwide Group

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Laurel Lukin
Laurel Lukin

Phoebe Killdeer And The Short



Ryan O'Donnell (4 June 2015) - [Newton Reservoir] - LEAST FLYCATCHER. Continuing, but joined by a third singing male. All three heard at once, from one location, singing the repeated short "che-BK!" song. Some audio and video recorded of one bird. We spent most of this observation period looking for nests and females, but didn't see any. One singing male aggressively escorted a Yellow Warbler and a Western Wood-Pewee from its territory. 27 species total.




Phoebe Killdeer And The Short


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To determine just how much birds used the Dairy Ranch prior to restoration, the Park Service hired Jules Evens of Avocet Research Associates (ARA) to document avian numbers and species diversity and to determine which existing habitats were most important. Prior to restoration, avian use of the pastures was seasonally variable. The northern portion of the East Pasture frequently hosted roosting Canada geese (Branta canadensis), Great blue herons (Ardea herodias), Great egrets (Ardea alba), and, occasionally, waterfowl species such as Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos; ARA et al. 2002). The ditches in the East Pasture supported a low diversity of species that include occasional use by Mallards, Gadwall (Anas strepera), Lesser scaup (Aythya affinis), Eared grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), Black phoebe (Sayornis nigricans), and even Belted kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon; ARA et al. 2002). Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola) regularly used some of the old Duck Ponds created by the Giacominis (ARA et al. 2002).


Shorebird numbers might have been expected to be higher than waterfowl based on predicted water levels after levee removal. However, shorebird numbers in 2008-2009 were relatively low, according to John Kelly, wildlife biologist at Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR), who has been conducting shorebird surveys with his staff and volunteers in the Giacomini Ranch and Tomales Bay. In early November 2008 surveys, shortly after breaching of levees, monitors from ACR observed some Short-billed and Long-billed dowitchers (Limnodromus griseus and L. scolopaceus) and scattered groups of Western sandpipers (Calidris mauri) and Least sandpipers (Calidris minutilla) in the newly restored marsh, Kelly said. Evens noted at least 1,000 Least and Western sandpipers around the edges of the flooded marsh in early November 2008 (Evens, pers. comm.). Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) were very common in the Project Area prior to breaching of the levees: Phalaropes are transients and are typically present in large numbers during fall migration, Evens said.


The increase in species diversity and numbers of individuals observed in both ARA and ACR surveys suggest that shorebirds are now "finding" the Giacomini Wetlands (ARA 2009). Although occurrence of species was sporadic during fall counts, the increase in numbers and species presages the potential for higher use of the restored wetlands in winter 2009-2010 (ibid). Both ARA and ACR point out that there is not enough data currently to determine population trends, but shorebird use of the Giacomini Wetlands does appear to be on the rise, at least in the short-term.


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