The alarm rang at 0350 this morning and I staggered downstairs to meet Yvette to drive out and meet two of our crews for “dark ops”. This involved getting a site safety plan approved for working during nighttime hours and getting to crews to agree to walk the beaches of Alameda in the dark, during the wee hours of the morning when people are asleep and the birds come to the beaches to roost. Duane and Julie and Rebecca and Paul all agreed to the adventure so we were off to the beaches in the dark but under a beautiful full moon.
All the crew had to be fitted in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), bright vests, and other accoutrement and each person had a million watt light (very bright) to look for birds.
Duane and Paul at 0445 in the morning
Getting to the beach at the intersection of Willow and Shoreline Hwy., I could hear many shorebirds calling, the piercing whistle of the Black-bellied Plover, the harsh “kreee” of the Dunlin and the soft “tu-tu-tu” of the Short-billed Dowitcher. All the walking for naught however, since we got skunked on the first run.
At 0700, we regrouped at the end of McKay Ave in Alameda where the East Bay Regional Parks has a facility. They graciously agreed to let us park the fabled Rat Rig (otherwise known as our Stabilization Trailer) and use their yard as the place to bring oiled wildlife to get initial treatment. We had eight crews of two people each gather and then get sent out to various places along the east side of San Francisco Bay. We also had a group of three US Fish and Wildlife biologists who brought their boat from Sacramento and searched for oil and oiled birds from Emeryville to Treasure Island on the San Francisco side of the bay. Based on yesterday, I thought that we would be swamped with birds but that was not the case. By 1800, we had less than 10 birds to transport up to our primary treatment facility. A long but quiet day – relief for all of us. Tomorrow should be an interesting day.