The least tern story was also good this year. In 2007, there were 226 nests at Bolsa Chica, but only 15 chicks fledged. In 2008, there were 242 nests and far more fledged birds. Overall, the least tern population is growing thanks to the use of fencing, volunteer monitors, and predator control. The population has grown from 1,000 nesting pairs in only a few places in California in the early 1980s to about 7,000 now. Bolsa Chica is only one of the places where least terns and snowy plovers nest. In late August, Vic and I attended what we fondly call the Least Tern Barbecue, where volunteers who have been guarding the least tern colony at Huntington State Beach get together for a potluck at the end of nesting season. State parks biologist David Pryor reported that this year they had a whopping 454 least tern nests, the third best year ever. They can always use more volunteers to sit at the beach at Huntington State Beach near the mouth of the Santa Ana River during the morning and early afternoon.