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Episode 12 - Seabirds, Coastlines, and 3 Tips for Flight Planning
Facebook Live Stream by Alicia Amerson
Episode 12 - Happy Fourth of July! Seabirds, Coastlines, and 3 tips for drone flight planning.
Tip #1 Develop checklists
Tip #2 Connect with wildlife experts in your flight area
Tip #3 Develop protocols to reduce wildlife disturbance
The coastline is a place where species of all types come together. As more people are born and live longer these days that means more people will live on the coastline. So where do animals that use the coast go when either their habitat changes due to agriculture or housing developments or the next big five star resort?
Seabirds is my way of grouping a large category of species. Seabirds can be gulls, pelicans, plovers, oystercatchers, etc. Seabirds nest and migrate along the coastline of most places around the world. They mainly live off of organisms they find in the sand, sediment or open water. Over time, all populations of seabirds have been impacted by a variety of man-made sources, including oil spills, gill-net and other fisheries, various contaminants, habitat destruction, introduced predators, and human disturbance. And now drones.
Even coming just a few blocks away from the shore into some of our neighborhoods, or wild spaces we’ll find other birds like song birds and hummingbirds. These birds are at greater risk of drone threats if we fill our skies with delivery drones.
In most cases conservation researchers are working on saving wildlife that is endangered and near extinction. And sometimes we use drones to measure populations, but they can also have negative impacts.
These disturbances can cause nesting seabirds to flee from and abandon their nests, leaving eggs or chicks exposed to predators, or causing eggs to fall from the nest.
In some cases, disturbances can cause complete breeding failure of a seabird colony, and ultimately may cause colony abandonment. These disturbance events can result in a reduction of the long-term health and survival of affected marine species, and when coupled with changing oceanic conditions and other human-induced stressors, cumulative small impacts can impart large-scale harm.
To address human disturbance to breeding seabird colonies there are efforts conducted by organizations, various outreach and education programs, and law enforcement at marine sanctuaries. There are many researchers and citizen scientist who are monitoring seabird breeding colonies this data helps guide outreach, education, and management efforts of the Network.
As a drone pilot - you can look at the seasonal time frames of a breeding colony to know what birds are in your flight plan area and what they might be doing. If there are known nests don’t take flight near or over the birds. If it is a high rocky coastal area and you’re unsure if birds are nesting along the cliff side don’t take flight. Some birds lay their eggs on the cliff sides and you would never see the egg or fledgling drop to it’s death.
You can also look around and notice if the birds are looking at you. If they seem uneasy about you being there or the noise perhaps you try a new area free of birds.
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