As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Webcam captures secrets of endangered birds

Live stream set up in Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve will help experts study the snowy plover and California least tern.
By Anthony Clark Carpio
March 20, 2013 | 3:34 p.m.

He didn't expect to be staring at his computer screen for hours on end, but Brian Pavloff caught himself doing just that.

Pavloff, president of Variable Speed Solutions in Huntington Beach, had just finished working on a web camera project for the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Even before it started broadcasting live online on March 11, he couldn't help but stop and stare at his screen.

"I never watch webcams in any length. And then after this project, all of a sudden I find it sitting next to me at night and I can't look away and I'm constantly going back to it," he said. "It's gotten to the point where my wife is telling me, 'Get off the webcam!' And I tell her that I'm only looking at birds."

The birds he's looking at are the western snowy plover and in a month's time, he will be also be looking at the California least tern. They are listed as two of the state's endangered bird species.

And for the first time, these birds will be under the careful watch of a camera, recording all of their nesting habits until the summer. The footage will then be used by researchers and universities to come up with better ways to help these birds get off the endangered species list, said Jayson Ruth, a board member of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust.

"It's fabulous for people all over the world that are interested in these endangered birds," said Mayor Connie Boardman, who is also a board member of the land trust.

Ruth, who is also a science teacher at Huntington Beach High School, has spearheaded this project from the beginning and after seven months has seen it go from an idea to reality.

"It's the first of its kind. Nobody's ever filmed long-term studies of the plovers or the terns," Ruth said. "It's not just a nest camera; it's really a nest site. We're filming an entire colony. We have the remote capability to film the nesting sites. We can zoom in on a nest when they form."

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