By: Marcus Figueroa
If you’re a d.tech student or staff member, surely you’ve looked outside the building and seen the Belmont Slough. Beside the muddy water, you may have noticed several different types of birds. The slough serves as the perfect place for bird watchers in the d.tech community and a researchable setting for students to learn more about the birds and their environment.
A certain d.tech teacher who found an interest in not only the birds on the slough, but all birds, is Patrick Sullivan. He teaches 9th grade English and, hosts a bird watching class on lab days. Sullivan has always had an interest in hawks and birds of prey, but began bird watching when he first moved to Half Moon Bay and noticed how many other species of bird there are. He enjoys extending his hobby to school where he can watch birds on the slough, and finds it a relaxing pastime. One of the reasons Sullivan likes bird watching so much is because he finds them,“interesting because there are so many living things around us that are each different in their own way.” One stand out bird watching moment was when “three California Condors flew over [his] head”. No wonder, considering that these are one of the largest species in the world, with a 10 foot wingspan span. While birdwatching, Sullivan occasionally finds himself taking truly breathtaking pictures.
Aaron Chow, a d.tech junior, did research on birds of the slough for a biology project. He had told me that most of them are in the same family of duck. One is a Ruddy Duck. Chow said these birds “are small, compact ducks with scoop-shaped bills, and long, stiff tails”. He also noted that they have peaked heads and short, thick necks. Male Ruddy Ducks have blackish caps that contrast with bright white cheeks while females are brownish. Chow’s personal favorite bird is the Snowy Egret. Chow likes them because, “It is enjoyable to see them catch fish, crustaceans, and insects as they roam around the Belmont slough”. An infamous bird with d.tech students is the Canada Goose. Chow explained, “Canada Geese are big water birds with a long neck, large body, large webbed feet, and wide, flat bill. Canada Geese feed on grasses, sedges, berries and seeds by dabbling in the water or grazing in fields and large lawns”. Another bird that you may see around the slough is the Ring-billed Gull. These are often found in vegetation along marshes and eat insects.
Junior Matthew Silverman, who is part of the bird watching class, noted,“We go for walks and look at different birds, trees, and plants on the Belmont slough, led by Mr. Sullivan, which is fun and a great learning experience.” If you have an interest in nature and the plants and animals around us, join the bird watching class, Thursdays during Lab 1.