Scouts Pitch In at Point

Alameda Cub Scouts helped prepare the least tern nesting area last Saturday. Some of the scouts are studying the least tern for a merit badge.

Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts help prepare least tern nest area

Fifteen boys from Cub Scout Pack 1015 and three from Boy Scout Troop 73, along with 18 parent volunteers, came out to the least tern nesting area at Alameda Point on Sunday, April 12. They joined a dozen students from UC Berkeley’s Tau Beta Pi honor society, and five students from Oakland School for the Arts’ Club Impact and Empowerment. The volunteers put out oyster shells and tern shelters, made fence repairs and trimmed weeds. It was the final work party before the terns arrive later in April to begin nesting.

"The older boys in our Webelos Den have been studying the least tern as part of their Naturalist Badge where they study local birds that are endangered, as well as studying the local ecosystem and wetlands," said Dorinda von Stroheim, Bear Den Leader Pack 1015. "The younger scouts are working toward their World Conservation Award where the boys are encouraged to ‘think globally’ and ‘act locally.’"

When asked what they liked most about their day of volunteering, Dash, age 9, said, "Digging up all the weeds! We did a lot of work but that part was fun!" Will, age 8, said, "I liked putting out the oyster shells the best because the little baby birds will now be protected. Also we saw a big spider!" They also saw some crickets and fence lizards.

The oyster shells are similar in color to a tern chick and make it harder for flying predators to spot them, especially if the chicks hunker down under the flanks of a larger shell. A-frame wooden shelters and terracotta drain tiles also provide shelter from predators and from the sun.

By mid-June, the 9.6-acre sand-covered site could be humming with activity with as many as 300 chicks scampering around waiting for food to arrive. The adults dive for small fish in nearby waters from Alameda Point to Crab Cove.

"The boys felt a big sense of accomplishment being part of the conservation project in April," said von Stroheim. "It was great to see how even these young boys age 8 to 12 could contribute in a
meaningful way to the work. The parents also enjoyed getting to be part of such an important Alameda project." The Elks Lodge in Alameda sponsors Cub Scout Pack 1015.

The public will have an opportunity to visit the site on Saturday, June 20.

The annual Return of the Terns bus tours leave from the Crab Cove Visitor Center on McKay Avenue following a presentation. Tour times are 11 a.m. and 12:15, and 1:30 p.m.

Registration is required via the East Bay Regional Park District’s website. The cost is $11 for adults or $9 for youth (over 8 years). The East Bay Regional Park District and Golden Gate Audubon Society co-sponsor the tours.

Richard Bangert hosts the blog https://alamedapointenvironmental

Richard Bangert Scouts gather oyster shells in the least tern nesting area. The shells will help camouflage the least tern chicks during nesting season.