This post was written by Carolyn Weddle, 2011 Project Specialist.
Researcher Sean Boyd from the Pacific Wildlife Research Centre in British Columbia spent the past few weeks diligently counting Eared Grebes on Mono Lake from over 425 photos taken this fall. Before going completely bug-eyed, Boyd was able to get a total count of Eared Grebes on Mono Lake for October 14, 2011 (the day volunteer Lighthawk pilot Geoff Pope and photographer Rick Kattelman did the aerial survey). Boyd was able to calculate the final number of grebes by taking the initial count from the photos, converting that number into a density (#/km^2), adjusting it for scale (which we created through three white X markers that were 50 meters apart near the lake shore), and used the current lake surface area to find the final count. The final count was 886,500 +/-4.4% Standard Error.
The annual aerial Eared Grebe survey has been happening with the exception of a few years, for the past decade. See the listing of past year’s grebe counts here.