Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge Update, by Carolyn Vance

As promised, this year’s Least Tern fledgling count:  42!  This is up from last year, thank goodness.  Many thanks to all who helped out with Eyes on the Colony and monitoring.  We will need help again staring in May of 2019.  Mark your calendars.

We celebrated National Public Lands Day (NPLD) on September 29th.  Rick Nye, the Refuge Manager went out to the Restoration area north of Case Pond and prepared an acre of land, clearing weeds, roto-tilling the soil and drilling 800 holes for plants.  Thanks to Bob Schallmann and the Navy, we received 784 plants from Tree of Life Nursery from a grant.  We had 135 volunteers come out and filled the holes with California native plants and spread mulch in between the rows and plants, to help keep down the weeds.  Then the next week, L.A. Conservation Corps came in and filled in the remaining holes with plants from our nursery and spread wildflower seeds throughout the site.  Here’s hoping we get enough rain for springtime flowers.  Many, many thanks to all involved.

On November 2nd four additional captive-bred Light-footed Ridgway’s Rails were released into the Seal Beach Refuge.  While the turnout of spectators was lower than last time, the rails were just as feisty, with one in particular screeching at us while waiting to be banded, until his eyes were covered.  We almost had one escape as he was being put back into the box, his beak pushing through the top of the carrier.  All these rails also received red metal bands for their release year of 2018.

On the way back to the Nature Center, we heard a red-tailed hawk screaming.  We looked over into a field and saw him on the ground, fighting with a Ferruginous hawk, over lunch we presumed.  Feathers flew, birds came up of the ground, wings, talons and tails all spread.  After a very short battle, the Red-tail flew off, leaving the larger Ferrugie on the ground to enjoy whatever had been caught.   Just another day at the Refuge.

The Refuge will be participating in the Annual Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey again this year.  Think of it as an abbreviated CBC, where only shorebirds and raptors are counted.  If you need help with shorebird identification in the winter, go to:  www.migratoryshorebirdproject.org and just click on Resources – Survey.  Then under Survey Training Resources, check out Shorebird ID tips.  Great tutorial, as are the other links.

December, this year, will be quiet on the Refuge with last Saturday of the Month Tour cancelled and no Special Birding Tours scheduled.  Just like our migratory birds resting here for the winter, the Friends and Refuge Manager are taking a break.  I’ll still be out and about, so check out the Chapter’s Twitter page at https://twitter.com/edaudubon for my latest photos.  See you next year!

Post photo credit:  Carolyn Vance

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