What is an SOS Survey?

Have not had too much to say about my recent SOS Surveys. That’s not because there hasn’t been many shorebirds to survey. It’s just that there hasn’t been anything new to report. I have to quit thinking like a “Big Year” birder where the only “good” bird is one you haven’t seen yet. Surfbirds arrived two Fridays ago. There was one large flock and a smaller one.

Adult Ruddy Turnstones are passing through. We’ll see the juveniles later.

 I’ve mentioned many times that I do SOS Surveys but what is it that we’re actually surveying? It seems we record everything. Shorebirds, weather, tides, dogs on or off leash, people (kids on or off leash), predators, disturbances to shorebirds, dead birds or mammals on the beach, and any other sightings. We also record if the people and dogs are on wet sand, dry sand, or on the dunes. Dogs are our main problem. Virgin Creek and Ten Mile Beaches are strictly “no” dogs allowed. Somehow many people turn a blind eye to the many signs State Parks have put up.

If we have a chance we talk to these people. Most are tourists and leave the beach immediately. It seems that it’s the locals that we have the most problems with. One of these days I would like to see some Park Rangers on the beach giving some tickets out.

Unsupervised kids are also a problem. They like to get out on the rocks that most of our shorebirds need. Most of these problems will disappear when Summer Vacation ends. 

I’ve noticed that we are in a sand import mode on Virgin Creek. Many of the rocks that we might have to climb over are now covered with sand. Many more of the offshore rocks are now easy to get to because of more sand. I’m sure this is a seasonal thing and will reverse with Winter storms. I will keep an eye on this situation. As it is there are fewer rocks for our shorebirds to feed on.


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