This February the BWET Ocean View Project continued by adventuring out to Francis State Beach in Half Moon Bay to learn all about the snowy plovers.
The western snowy plovers are small, only about six inches long with dark patches of feathers on neck, behind the eyes and on the forehead with light black, brown and white feathers. These birds nest at Francis State Beach, and prefer stretches of sand that are also popular with human visitors. Learn more about the western snowy plovers and the wonderful Plover Watch Volunteer program at http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=905.
Students from Kennedy and Pescadero Middle Schools came to the beach on different days to learn about plovers and their habitat. The students met with Ranger Nelle, who is very knowledgeable about birds of the area. The students learned how to use binoculars and how to identify all types of birds including kites, egrets, hawks, gulls, blackbirds and more from very talented birding docents. (binocular picture here)
The hike further down to the beach was intriguing and exciting trying to find all the birds in the fields, creek, and dunes. The students were very enthusiastic to use the scopes to get a closer look at all the birds.
Once we reached the beach the students loved touching the sand and walking along looking at the water. Two scopes were set up to find the snowy plovers nestled in the sand. The students had very keen eyes and started pointing out all the plovers. On one visit we saw just a few, and on another visit they seemed to be everywhere! The students also noticed sanderlings among the plovers, and were able to see the differences between these two species that use the same habitat.
Back at the visitor center the students picked out birds and plant pictures that they saw from that day. One of the reasons the students went to this field trip is to learn how their watershed affects the snowy plovers and the ocean’s coast. The students are learning about how to be stewards and wrote some ideas in their journals. Many students thought that picking up trash would be a good way to be stewards of their watershed. The next step is to get them thinking about how they can be leaders. Students came up with starting clubs to pick up trash and lobbying to get signs put up informing visitors about the plovers’ habitat.