Thursday, October 4, 2012

Spot the difference....the ups and downs of shorebird surveys

A slight wave of panic made its way through Jalova base one Saturday due to the announcement that we were to take part in the annual National Shorebirds Survey conducted by MINAET. Two teams were assembled to put their shorebirds knowledge (or lack thereof...) to the ultimate test, one to survey the local Estuary (Jalova) and the other to survey Parismina Estuary.
Both teams went out armed with binoculars and their most –valued- bird- books, a vital piece of equipment needed for the challenge, to try and identify different birds which all appear to be the same species...
The Estuary Team, with the help of two TNP rangers (and their most-valued-bird- books...), spent the morning working hard  trying to decipher the minuscule differences in plumage of the shorebirds and managed to identify several different species.  They returned back to base successful after short leisurely walk along the beach accompanied by a mild case of binocular vision...
 The Parismina team, however were not so lucky. After arriving at Parismina after a 30 minute, and rather chilly, boat ride they were greeted by three overly friendly dogs. This was considered quite endearing to begin with, however their minds were quickly changed when their new-found companions decided to follow them to the Estuary...where the dogs found great amusement in chasing the shorebirds away, while the team found themselves getting more and more frustrated with the impossible task of trying to I.D birds in flight...from a fair distance away! (A task where even the most-valued -of-bird-books is rendered unhelpful!).

Kim, Pepper, Jo and Imi - aka 'The Parismina Team'

After a fairly quiet 2 hours they made their way back to base, feeling slightly defeated and with their love for dogs perhaps no longer as strong...
The Estuary team, meanwhile enjoyed the rest of their Saturday comforted by the thought that they now know that a variety of shorebird species actually does exist...or do they?

- Kim, Field Staff