Just call me Captain Zodiac. Today was a boat day and I was fortunate enough to have the help of two terrific people with lots of boat experience, Russ Bradley and Phil Henderson. Both of these biologists have spent many years on the Farallon Islands studying marine animals out there for PRBO Conservation Science. As a not very good boat driver myself, they gave me a lot of great tips on getting around on the water.
Our objective was to see if we could find oiled birds that were still out on the water and try to catch them out there. In principle it sounds easy but in practice it proved to be a bit more difficult. After launching near Jack London Square, we cruised along likely spots along the circumference of the island of Alameda. One of the great sites that we passed was the breakwater off of the old Alameda Naval Air Station where over 1000 Brown Pelicans were roosting with a number of shorebirds and other species. We looked for oiled pelicans but did not see any. This pelican roost is actually the largest in San Francisco Bay.
We went to one deep water harbor called the Seaplane Lagoon, and there we chased an oiled female Surf Scoter, but she was very active and did not let us get close.
Near Crab Cove, were the Rat Rig is situated, we battled an oiled American Coot and finally Phil Henderson, with a mighty shove of the landing net, snagged the coot. This was a very oiled individual so I am particularly happy that we caught that bird.
The number of oiled birds that we caught today went up, perhaps because the weather was a bit cooler but also because the oiled birds must be getting more stressed. Tomorrow we will continue to have people out in the field (although I get a day off). All in all, I think that we captured about 8 birds consisting of three grebe species (Western, Horned, and Eared) and a smattering of other species.