Elkhorn Slough Then and Now
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!
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 …..