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Coal Oil Point Plovers

We met up with friend Liz Muraoka at Coal Oil Point Reserve in Goleta, CA yesterday. The reserve encompasses a beautiful stretch of Santa Barbara County coastline immediately adjacent to the UCSB campus and protects a wide variety of coastal and estuarine habitats.

Western Snowy Plover Habitat
Western Snowy Plover Habitat

Largely undisturbed coastal dunes support a rich assemblage of dune vegetation and have become a nesting site for the endangered Snowy Plover. The reserve provides a unique and accessible research and teaching resource and is used by many university courses for field studies. It is also used and enjoyed by school children for field trips, birders, and the general public.

It didn’t take us long to spot adult Snowy Plovers running to and from the beach and their fenced in nesting areas. It took us a little bit to finally notice the chicks scurrying along the sand in between the adults. At first they appeared to be little crabs running to and fro and I finally exclaimed, “those are the chicks!” I immediately got to work trying to capture how amazingly mobile and agile the 1-2 day old chicks were.

Snowy Plover
Snowy Plover

An adult stands guard nearby keeping an eye on the young chicks.

Snowy Plover
Snowy Plover (adult)

Snowy Plover
Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover
Snowy Plover

Liz also got a photo of me shooting the Plovers and if you click to the larger photo below you can even see the tiny Snowy Plover chicks in the photograph.

Me photographing Snowy Plovers
Me photographing Snowy Plovers

 

Posted by on July 14, 2009 in Photography Adventures

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Western Snowy Plovers

The Western Snowy Plover is a small, threatened shorebird, around the size of a small sparrow. They’re endangered due to the fact they nest right along the beach and often in some of the most populated areas of the country…including the beaches of Los Angeles, California!

It’s been decades since they’ve been able to successfully nest here but the California Coastal Commission is trying to change that. A small group of Plovers have been wintering along Dockweiler Beach (just below LAX) and we’re hoping that they may nest. A small section of beach has been “coned” off in the attempt to deter Lifeguard vehicles from driving through it and people from running or walking through the area. Hopefully this will be enough to encourage them it’s safe enough to nest and fledge young here.

I was able to photograph them this morning and afternoon since it’s just a few miles from my house. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they will actually nest and fledge young. If they do I’ll be there to document it every step of the way…without disturbing them of course!

And with that I present a small photo gallery of what I was able to photograph today:

Snowy Plover
Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover
Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover
Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover
Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover
Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover
Snowy Plover

Just to show you what a “young” bird looks like, here’s a fledgling I photographed at Bolsa Chica a couple years ago:

Snowy Plover2a
Snowy Plover2a

 

Posted by on April 9, 2009 in Photography Adventures

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