Attention all pelicans, herons, egrets, orioles, pipits and babblers: the platforms are clear and good to go for a safe landing. Please remain on two feet until your flight comes to a complete stop and enjoy your stay at the Watsonville Wetlands Watch.
And thanks to Nathan Carson, 18, members from his Boy Scout troop 642 out of Aptos, family members, and close friends, any enthused ornithologist or just simple bird lovers can watch these magnificent soaring bipedal feathered animals land on one of the two new platforms built in between the Watsonville and Struve sloughs.
The project started last year in August, and now eight months and 51 hours later—and 160 total hours as a group—the careful planning with the Wetlands Watch and intense work from Nathan has paid off. The project finished up this spring, and it wasn’t just another backyard Sunday job for everyone involved.
“We had to coat all of the wood that we used in marine resins so that it wouldn’t rot,” Nathan said. “And that took a really long time because it’s a really difficult material to work with."
Another major part in the project was the donations and voulenteer work. provided all the wood along with hardware, Dave Gehringer from Coca-Cola donated barrels, Nathan’s grandma donated the chain for the anchors, and fellow scouts Eric Wells and Ty Widell helped with some manual labor.
Carson’s scout buddies also did their Eagle Scout project at the Wetlands Watch. Wells contributed duck boxes and burrowing owls nest.
His mom, Debbie Carson, also mentioned that one of the platforms had some special alterations done with the barrels donated by Coca-Cola, whereas the other platform was fitted with special floating devices called jet docks and metal plumbers tape.
“The one with the floats from the harbor, that raft pretty much floats right on the water,” said Debbie. “And the one with the barrels is up a little higher. ... I think it will be kind of interesting to see if there’s any difference between the two, if the birds prefer one over the other.”
And they probably won’t float away anytime soon either, because each platform has a secured 60-pound anchor strapped on just in case.
Although the platforms were an idea initially made by the Wetlands Watch, mainly for bird watching, Nathan didn’t hesitate to take on the assignment for credit towards his Eagle Scout award.
“One of the requirements is to lead a community service project.” said Nathan, a high school senior who is planning to go to college in the fall.
There are also other requirements to earn the highest rank possible in Boy Scouts that includes earning at least 21 merit badges and by demonstrating Scout Spirit through the Boy Scout Oath and Law, service and leadership.
Without a doubt, the upgrades made to help observe and conserve wildlife has the people at Watsonville Wetlands Watch excited. And with the new platforms installed, they can generate more bird watchers to come see one of the more beautiful sides Watsonville can offer.
“The people in the slough come check it every day,” said Debbie. “They’re really excited to see what birds start using it and when.”
But despite the fact that most of the birds are yet to come as much as Nathan would like them to, his mom jokingly has a suggestion that could attract these flying wonders of the world.
“Maybe it’s too fresh,” said Debbie. “We should have covered it with bird poop or something.”