Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Snowy Plovers of Gazos Creek Beach

Snowy Plovers enjoying a temporary Gazos Creek Lake!

Gazos Creek Beach is located in San Mateo County about 60 miles south of San Francisco. To the south about 5 miles is Ano Nuevo State Reserve and two miles north is Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
I volunteer for an organization called Beach Watch (BW) which is an arm of FMSA (Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association) located at Crissy Field in the Presidio of San Francisco. BW consist of many teams of volunteers that survey beaches from Point Arena in Mendocino County to Ano Nuevo in San Mateo County twice per month. BW teams document live bird species and marine mammals as well as all dead birds, marine mammals and other creatures that perish on the beach. In addition beaches are surveyed for any signs of oil, be it from natural seep, ships and boats at sea and sunken vessels spewing oil or other hazardous materials.

For the last few years I've been documenting the Snowy Plover populations at Gazos Creek by counting the numbers and photographing all birds with leg bands that identify where the bird was born and banded.  Each month I send a short report to Point Blue (formally PRBO) in Petaluma California and to the Half Moon Bay Ranger Station. They in return send me what information they have on the banding locations of each individual.  

Official Status: Threatened, the Pacific Coast population of the western snowy plover is federally listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 as threatened. The western snowy plover is a Bird Species of Special Concern in California. Snowy plovers were listed as endangered under Washington Department of Game Policy No. 402 in 1981, and as threatened by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission in 1975. The threatened status in Oregon was reaffirmed in 1989 under the Oregon Endangered Species Act.

Below are a few Snowys I've photographed on Gazos Creek Beach:

YY:AR Born and Banded at Salinas State Beach 2007
Spotted January 29th 2014 at Gazos

AO:BO Fledged Sunset State Beach 2015
Spotted at Gazos December 4th 2015

BY:GO & WO:GA Gazos 11/5/15
GO:BY banded Del Monte Beach 2015
WO:GA fledged Zmudowski State Beach 2014

AP:OA Monterey Bay Aquarium release 2014
Spotted 4 times at Gazos, latest 12/4/15

VO:BW Gazos 11/5/14
No additional sightings or information.

PV:YY Fledged Oceana Dunes 2015
Last Observation Gazos, 12/4/15

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