In late September 2012, a wayward Common Cuckoo was discovered in the Watsonville Wetlands, and hundreds of birders flocked to the area during the course of the next 2 weeks, hoping for a glimpse of this elusive Old World bird. Thousands of miles were driven or flown by birders in pursuit of the now famous cuckoo, and the carbon footprint generated by the rare sighting was enormous.
On Wednesday, May 8, Watsonville Wetlands Watch will host Scott Smithson, local birder and founder of The Green Big Day, as he recounts the amazing appearance of the cuckoo and speaks about a new generation of “green birders” who are leaving their cars at home or carbon offsetting their obsession by supporting habitat restoration efforts.
From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Fitz Educational Resource Center, at the top of the Pajaro Valley High School campus in Watsonville (map/directions). Admission is free but you must reserve a seat by contacting Kathy Fieberling at
831-345-1226 or email@example.com.
Inset: Common Cuckoo. Photo by Efren Adalem
5th Annual Earth Day Celebration at Pajaro Valley High School
Watsonville Wetlands Watch hosted our 5th annual Earth Day celebration at Pajaro Valley High School on April 22. This year the event was almost completely coordinated by Wetlands Stewards interns and alumni. Our students took the lead in recruiting other groups to set up booths, get donations for prizes, get the word out via flyers and posters, and design games and activities like a photo booth and a native plant project.
People Power joined us from Santa Cruz to teach students about the benefits of bicycles by demonstrating a bike-powered smoothie maker. The Monterey Bay Aquarium hosted activities led by their teen WATCH program; the Bay Area Puma Project educated youth about California’s most mysterious predator — the mountain lion; the City of Watsonville led games around clean water; and the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County promoted sustainable agriculture at the free farmers market. This was by far the largest Earth Day celebration in our history, growing from only one table in 2009 to over 13 tables this year. There was a great feeling of celebration in the air, and our students took great pride in spreading the word of the importance of protecting the earth.
Experience the Wetlands
on a Wetlands Alive! Tour
Photo by Denise Murphy
Discover the natural wonders of the wetlands on this fun, family-oriented tour of the wetlands and our Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center (map/directions). Upcoming tour dates are on Saturdays, May 11, May 25, June 8 and June 22, starting at 10 a.m. Tours are free, but please call or email Kathy Fieberling, 831-345-1226, firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday noon before the tour to reserve a place. For more information, click here.
The Early Birder Gets the Birds
by Nanci Adams
Amelia Pedersen with science project results
Imagine a sixth-grade girl getting out of a warm bed before 7 a.m., loading equipment, including a canoe, and heading out to the Watsonville slough system to paddle, bird, and record her results. Now, imagine her doing that three times at five different sites, all to complete a chosen science project. That’s exactly what Amelia Pedersen did, in February, no less!
Amelia, whose parents own High Ground Organics near Harkins Slough, recently spoke to my Adult Education Birding Basics class about her adventure. She completed the project for her Linscott Charter School science teacher, Brett Hagerman. By doing her project, she told us that she was testing her hypothesis that Gallighan and Harkins sloughs would have the richest variety of bird species and number of individuals, due to their remoteness and habitat richness. To improve her bird identification skills beforehand, Amelia memorized the Sibley western bird flash cards, although she lamented that she still had many UFDs in her final report, Unidentified Flying Ducks!
We invite you to help restore wetland habitat by planting native plants and removing exotic invasive plants as part of our monthly community work day on May 25. We will work from 9 am until 12 noon, and we always make time for birding or a short hike around the wetlands. We supply the gloves, tools, and a snack. Meet at our Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center (map/directions). If you have questions, please contact Mary Paul at email@example.com or 831-566-4938.
Saturday Open House
Would you like to hold a live snake, use a microscope to look at aquatic insects, touch animal pelts and examine skulls? On the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, we invite you and your family to visit the Fitz Wetlands Educational Resource Center (map/directions), where kids of all ages will enjoy fun activities as they learn about the wetlands. This month’s Open Houses are on May 11th and 25th from noon until 3 p.m.
Support Our Work
You can partner with us as we protect, restore and foster appreciation of the Watsonville wetlands by supporting us with your donation. Contribute online by going to our website; or by sending a donation in the mail to WWW, P.O. Box 1239, Freedom, CA 95019. Contributions are tax-deductible in accordance with IRS rules for non-profit organizations and are greatly appreciated!
Watsonville Wetlands Watch advocates for wetland issues, educates elementary, middle, and high school students, restores degraded habitats, preserves what remains whole, and teaches appreciation for the unique beauty and life of the Pajaro Valley wetlands. In cooperation with numerous other agencies, we support studies of and planning for these sites.