After dinner, Pryor handed out awards to outstanding volunteers. Bob Seabourn was recognized for having put in the most hours guarding the tern colony, for taking useful notes on bird behavior and for keeping a detailed log of what happened at the tern preserve. Nancy Kenyon of Sea and Sage Audubon was recognized for designing and maintaining the website. It is linked to the Sea and Sage Audubon website, which Nancy also maintains. You can visit at www.seaandsage audubon.org/Conservation/Snowy Plovers/SNPL.htm/. Finally, Cheryl Egger received an award for her outstanding work as volunteer coordinator. Cheryl kept Vic and me in the loop by e-mail all summer. We appreciated hearing about the ongoing success of the tern colony and seeing the great photos that she forwarded.
Pryor also noted the contributions of Wally Ross, a predator management specialist who works for State Parks and Recreation, California Department of Fish and Game, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. When kestrels threatened the colony, Ross live-trapped them and relocated them to the Birds of Prey Center. There they were cared for until the end of tern nesting season. The little falcons were released in an area far away from the tempting tern colonies at the beach.
Another task for volunteers was guarding Western snowy plover nests. These tiny birds prefer to nest outside the fence and will hunker down in a tire track or footprint. However, there were no nests of Western snowy plovers at Huntington State Beach this year. They did better in the isolation of back Bolsa.
The terns are gone now, winging their way to their wintering grounds in Central and South America. This year's youngsters will still be too young to breed next summer. Rather than use their energy to migrate north, they will stay on their wintering grounds for their first summer as adults. The rest of the flock will be back with us and will need protection again next summer. If you'd like to become involved, e-mail volunteer coordinator Cheryl Egger at firstname.lastname@example.org/.
VIC LEIPZIG and LOU MURRAY are Huntington Beach residents and environmentalists. They can be reached at email@example.com.