It’s a sunny day between rain storms, and the dirt roads of Transects 9 and 18 are muddy and washboard-rough. The maps and instructions clearly note where we should pull off and do our sightings. All is going well until we stop to look at something from a levee road—essentially a single-lane dirt road with no shoulder. The designated pull-out is 25 yards ahead of us, so we’re stopped on the road when, in my rear-view mirror, I see a full-sized pickup barreling down on us with no room to pass. I inch forward and arrive at the pull-out just as the truck roars past, spraying the side of the car with mud; we’re otherwise unscathed.
Lesson learned: Don’t stop on a levee road unless there is a pull-out. Benefit gained: Surveying shorebirds wintering in the Central Valley is our big chance to help in a meaningful way!