Day 13 of Dubai Star Oil Spill – Report from the field

I missed blogging yesterday since that was a packing day for me.  Don and I hauled our boat and the Rat Rig back to Davis while Phil and Harv continued searching for dead and alive oiled birds.  They did not find anything new yesterday and it seems like things are really slowing down.

Today, Phil and Harv were out and the first thing that they did was help on a capture of the Endangered Clapper Rail that persists in small numbers here in San Francisco Bay, among other places in California.  A rail was reported as being oiled, so we had a team of expert rail biologists from US Geological Survey and US Fish and Wildlife Service come in and help us capture rails.  The rails are easy to catch on high tide for they congregate in small clumps of vegetation that do not flood out.  The team went out in small boats and quickly captured three Clapper Rails, two which were unoiled and one which had a smudge of oil on its tertial feathers.

Getting ready for rail capture (Photo by Phil Henderson)

The oiled feathers were clipped off, and the rail was radio-tagged (so we can see how well the bird survives over the next 6 weeks), banded and released with the other two rails.  At the end of six weeks, if all goes well, the rail will be recaptured and the radio tag will be removed.

The only other bird found today was a dead, oiled, depredated American Coot.  At this point, it looks like we will discontinue search efforts at the end of Friday.

– Nils

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