Friday, October 29, 2010

Bird survey means birds.......doesn’t it?

After breakfast the bird survey team set out on what we thought was going to be a typical canal bird survey. Our survey leader, Jon, along with Simon H, Zahra, Christina, Alana and I, Mattie, were all just hoping to see a wide variety of birds on our survey. For me this was my first bird survey.
Early in the morning, we began paddling down Sierpe Viejo in our canoe and everything around us was still and the silence made the slightest movements known. So far we had seen a bunch of Little Blue Herons (Egretta caerulea), Northern Jacanas (Jacana spinosa), Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula) and a couple of Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodius). Since I was given the spotter position it was my job to look out for logs in front of us and keep track of birds that flew by us so as not to double count them. As we were paddling down the canal, I saw something making water tread marks. Initially I thought it was a croc but I wanted to double check with my binoculars. When I looked through them I thought I was looking at one of the ranger’s dogs that occasionally swim across the canal. I thought dog, but I saw cat head – kitty dog! I turned around and asked Jon, “What’s that swimming across in the water?” Jon exclaimed “Wow, that’s a jag!” Then, everyone started scrambling, unsure of whether to get their binoculars or their cameras. Luckily Jon grabbed his camera and managed to get some good shots. When the jag swam out of sight we all started going crazy since we will be some of the lucky few that will actually get to see a jag. On top of seeing just one jag during our phase, only three days ago another jag was seen!
Afterwards we were all grinning. We took pictures of each other ‘post jag’. We decided to make a pact not to tell anyone about seeing the jag until brief at 13:30, when the entire Jalova team gets together to share news and plan the next surveys. The rest of the survey was physically demanding at times since the water reeds were intense. The sun was shining....or rather burning, but seeing the jag made it all worth it. A bunch of us were also excited to see a Boat Billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius). They are so cute and we hadn’t seen one before. For the rest of the survey we felt strong and empowered by spotting a jag to the point where we paddled beyond the expected distance and right over tree branches that were in our way. Our bird survey was EPIC!
by Mattie Jacox Kyle (10 week Volunteer) with Simon Howell (6 month Intern)