We had a stellar day out on Tomales Bay Saturday, February 6, for our final waterbird count of the season. Besides all the usual suspects, Bufflehead, cormorants, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Surf Scoters, loons and grebes, just to name a few, we had a sweet surprise: the first documented occurrence of Brown Booby in Tomales Bay!

The species, typically found in Mexico southward into Central America, is very rare this far north. Its presence could be related to recent El Nino conditions; the suggestion of a climate-induced shift in distribution depends on whether they continue to occur here in future years.

Every year, ACR coordinates and trains teams of qualified volunteer birders to conduct four boat-based waterbird surveys on Tomales Bay. Each survey is conducted by 15-20 observers on three boats. The project requires several land-based counts and intensive, baywide observations to assess the number and distribution of waterbird species. The waterbird studies are conducted from ACR's Cypress Grove Research Center near Marshall on Tomales Bay.

Learn more about our waterbird survey work >

   

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Photos: Roger Harshaw and Ken Wilson