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Flocking Noises
April 2009 | Ann Gardner, Via Latina| Photos Abigail Smigel

Marbled Godwits. Photo: © Abigail Smigel

Numbers and names are flying around about bird data to be released at Lagoon Day on Sunday, April 19! Early reports of birds, resident and rare, flocking to the new wetland restoration project in the San Dieguito Lagoon raise hopes for a real success story.

“Our expectations were to find small numbers of local and migratory birds inhabiting the wetlands after a few months of the new mudflats being open to daily tides, but the numbers and varieties of birds have impressed us with the fact that, at least in this small part of the world, nature is really responding positively,” one of the Lagoon Day speakers, Dr. Steve Schroeter, said recently. Dr. Schroeter, an environmental scientist and an expert on coastal lagoons, is under contract to the California Coastal Commission to independently monitor the recently constructed wetland.

During a recent site visit, I also heard that the number of different types of species has doubled over the last five years to over 158 species now documented on site with several endangered rare migrant birds and year round species colonizing the wetland.

Ed Mirsky, local vertebrate biologist and birder, agreed that the first signs are promising. First of all, Southern California Edison has aided nature’s recovery by clearing the river channels of silt and obstruction, he commented, and then added that he specifically praised how the mud flats were developed on the east side of I-5. “No vegetation was planted in these areas. That’s good! Tidal flow will bring in necessary organisms and the mudflats will be used by migratory shorebirds.”
Still, he cautioned that monitoring and testing the success of the wetland project over the next decade will tell the real story. “For instance, will the shore birds stay?” and “Don’t get distracted by the occurrence of rare species,” he said. “Focus on species that are resident to our wetland. The Lagoon is vital to their survival.”

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