January 2009


Recently a Santa Cruz Long Toed Salamander was found in one of the Research buildings at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.

This salamander is roaming wild once again.

This salamander is roaming wild once again.

What’s the big deal? This rare species – Ambystoma macrodactylum croceum – is a federally  listed endangered species found only in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.

Photo by Bree Candiloro, Stewardship Specialist at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.

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This is from an email sent out 1/2/09 by Don Roberson (of http://montereybay.com/creagrus/ fame):

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve has been my CBC territory on the Moss Landing CBC since 1983. Late this afternoon I happened to be entering the 1986 totals from the Reserve into ebird [I’ve been entering old data in small bits when time permits]. Boy, how some things have changed in 23 years here!

Some examples:

Gadwall   500 in 1986,   40 in 2009,  more than 12 times fewer
N. Pintail   3400,   215   almost 16 times fewer
Green-winged Teal  1200,   135   almost 9 times fewer

ducks are generally down in California in recent years, but the totals at
ESNERR are waaaay down because the reserve has changed.  In 1986, the
water areas were a freshwater/brackish mix.  Since then the levees have
been breached and the water areas are almost entirely tidal.  Now, those
areas are heavily used by tidal mudflat waders and gulls.  Some examples

California Gull   12,   1800   150 times greater
Western Gull   3,    225   75 times greater

But some ducks may benefit with the salt water: for example, Bufflehead
numbers (126 yesterday) are double the 60 in 1986.

Back in 1986, the marsh was full of avocets (60) and a few BN Stilts (3);
none yesterday.  Because the marsh had fresh or brackish water, it was
cruised by swallows (9 Trees, 1 Violet-green) in ’86; no swallows
yesterday.  But yesterday a pair of Raven flew over — that would have
been astonishing in 1986.

Although the Reserve water areas are much changed, the land portions are
pretty much the same and are surveyed in pretty much the same way. I keep
these numbers in a notebook during the day’s walk one by one, so these are
not estimates, and the numbers are damn close:
Anna’s Hummingbird  11 in ’86, 11 yesterday [and no, they are not the same
birds . . . ahem]
CB Chickadee  27 in ’86, 21 yesterday
Oak Titmouse   4 in ’86, 10 yesterday
RC Kinglet  24 in ’86, 29 yesterday

Don’t know what it all means, but doing the same territory year after year
does give one some perspective on how things do change, and on things that
do not …..

Don Roberson

Elkhorn Slough Safari reports on their Christmas Bird Count numbers…

http://elkhornsloughsafari.blogspot.com/2009/01/bird-count-2009.html

South Marsh Loop: Common Loon; Pied-billed, Horned, Eared & Western Grebes; Brown & American White Pelicans; Double-crested, Brandt’s & Pelagic Cormorants; Great Blue Heron; Great & Snowy Egrets; Black-crowned Night Heron; Buffleheads; Red-breasted Mergansers; Common Goldeneye; Canada Goose; Mallard; Greater Scaup; Northern Harrier; Sharp-shinned Hawk; Turkey Vulture; White-tailed Kite; Red-shouldered, Red-tailed & Cooper’s Hawks; Peregrine Falcon; American Kestrel; Black-bellied Plovers; California Quail; Killdeer; Willets; American Avocets; Greater Yellowlegs; Long-billed Curlew; Whimbrel; Marbled Godwit; Spotted Sandpiper; Sandpiper spp.; Dowitchers; Ring-billed & Western Gulls; Elegant Tern; Band-tailed & Rock Pigeons; Mourning Dove; Great-horned Owl; Forster’s Tern; Anna’s Hummingbird; Belted Kingfisher; Acorn, Downy, Hairy, & Nuttall’s Woodpeckers; Northern Flicker; Black & Say’s Phoebe; Steller’s &Western Scrub Jay; Hutton’s Vireo; American Crow; Chestnut-backed Chickadee; Oak Titmouse; European Starling; Bushtit; Bewick’s & House Wrens; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; Hermit Thrush; American Robin; Wrentit; Northern Mockingbird; Orange-crowned, Wilson’s, Yellow, & Townsend’s Warblers; Common Yellowthroat; Spotted & California Towhees; Dark-eyed Junco; Black-headed Grosbeak; Brewer’s Blackbird; House Finch; Lesser Goldfinch; Purple Finch; American Goldfinch; White-crowned, Golden-crowned, Song & House Sparrows
North Marsh: American White Pelicans; Great Blue Heron; Great & Snowy Egrets; Blue-winged, Cinnamon, and Green-winged Teals; Northern Shovelers; Northern Pintails; Mallards; Sandpipers spp.; Black-necked stilts; American Avocets; Greater Yellowlegs; Willets; Western Gulls

Parsons Slough/Five Fingers: Western & Clark’s Grebes; Brown & American White Pelicans; Brandt’s & Double-crested Cormorants; Great Blue Heron; Great Egret; Canada Goose; Mallard; Northern Shoveler; Buffleheads; Red-breasted Merganser; Northern Harrier; Red-tailed Hawk; Spotted Sandpiper; Marbled Godwits; Willets; Western Gulls; Anna’s Hummingbird; Acorn Woodpecker; Black Phoebe; Western Scrub Jay; American Crow; Oak Titmouse; Chestnut-backed Chickadee; Bushtits; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; Western Bluebird; Cedar Waxwings; Townsend Warbler; California & Spotted Towhee; Dark-eyed Junco; House Finch; Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow; House Sparrows

Hudson’s Landing: Eared & Western Grebes; Brown Pelican; Great Egret; Greater Scaup; Buffleheads; Common Goldeneye; Ruddy Ducks; Mallards; Green-winged Teals; American Coots; Greater Yellowlegs; Willets; Long-billed Curlew; Marbled Godwits; Western & Least Sandpipers; Dowitchers; Western Gull

Jetty Rd.: Eared & Western Grebes; Brown Pelican; Brandt’s & Pelagic Cormorants; Great & Snowy Egrets; Mallards; Buffleheads; Red-breasted Merganser; Black-bellied & Semipalmated Plovers; Willets; Marbled Godwits; Western & Least Sandpipers; Dowitchers; Western & Herman Gulls; Elegant Terns

Visitor Center area: American Pipit; Say’s Phoebe

Thanks again to our spotters: Annie McNeill, Plant ladies; Colette Darocy Kathleen Klein, Linda Jordan, Shirley Murphy and your reporter Sheryl Gaebelein

South Marsh Loop: American White Pelicans; Brown Pelicans; Brandt’s Cormorants; Double-crested Cormorants; Great Blue Heron; Great & Snowy Egrets; Mallard; Northern Shoveler; Buffleheads; Red-breasted Merganser; Northern Harrier; Turkey Vulture; White-tailed Kite; Red-shouldered Hawk; Red-tailed Hawk; Black-bellied Plovers; Killdeer; Willets; Greater Yellowlegs; Long-billed Curlew; Marbled Godwit; Spotted Sandpiper; Sandpiper sps.; Ring-billed Gull; Western Gull; Mourning Dove; Band-tailed Pigeon; Anna’s Hummingbird; Belted Kingfisher; Acorn Woodpecker; Hairy Woodpecker; Downy Woodpecker; Northern Flicker; Black Phoebe; Say’s Phoebe; Steller’s Jay; Western Scrub-Jay; American Crow; Chestnut-backed Chickadee; Oak Titmouse; Western Bluebirds; Hermit’s Thrush; European Starling; Bushtit; Bewick’s Wren; American Robin; Ruby-crowned Kinglet; Yellow Warbler; Townsend Warbler; Spotted Towhee; California Towhee; Savannah Sparrow; Song Sparrow; Dark-eyed Junco; White-crowned & Golden-crowned Sparrow; Brewer’s Blackbird; Purple Finch; House Finch; House Sparrow

North Marsh: American White Pelicans; Golden Eagles; Red-tailed Hawks

Parsons Slough: Common Loon; American White Pelican; Western Grebe; Double-crested Cormorants; Great Blue Heron; Great & Snowy Egret; Mallard; Buffleheads; Black-bellied Plovers; Black-necked Stilt; American Avocets; Greater Yellowlegs; Willets; Long-billed Curlew; Sandpiper sps; Spotted Sandpiper; Whimbrel; Gull sps.; Marbled Godwits; Black Phoebe; American Crow; Song Sparrow

Thanks again to our spotters: Plant ladies; Annie McNeill, Marth Kenner, Shirley Murphy, Ron Eby and your reporter Sheryl Gaebelein