With springtime upon us, and summer quickly approaching, a COASSTer may, on occasion, encounter the elusive sun! As we enter this wonderful time, it is a good idea that we fine-tune our surveying skills. So here is your ultimate guide to surveying in the sun!
1 – Avoid pesky shadows that may hinder species verification.
Shadows, especially in full sunlight, can either make parts of the bird much darker (left photo) OR washed out (right photo). This can lead to a loss of detail and make it challenging to verify the species, and the chalkboard may be difficult to read.
When taking pictures in the sun, it is easy to overlook shadows from grasses, logs, rocks, sign posts, etc. Be sure to double check for these shadows.
It is also very easy to ignore human-made shadows by either the photographer or the assistant.
If shadows are taking over your photo, simply rotate and move the bird.
2 – Be prepared! Planning ahead will prepare you for almost anything during this somewhat unpredictable season, and ensure your surveys go as smoothly as possible.
Proper protection from the sun can make the difference between a a nice walk on the beach and a surprisingly painful reminder that it is no longer winter. Sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses, are essential when preparing for a sunny survey. Bringing lightweight (preferably waterproof) layers will also help you transition from sun to rain if the occasional surprise drizzle occurs.
Being in the sun for an hour or two can quickly zap your energy and dehydrate you, so be sure to bring various treats with you and plenty of water. HYDRATE!
A few sheets of parchment paper are a great last minute alternative to waterproof paper during unexpected showers. Just record your data on the parchment paper with pencil and transfer the information onto a data sheet when you get to a dry location.