May the waters of the slough drop low enough to let the airboat pass under the pedestrian bridge.

May the King tide then raise the water so high that the endangered Ridgway Rails and Soras appear.

So often they hide in the pickleweed when waters are lower – may they now show up for count so that grants can be written to protect them.

May the biologists never lose their balance as they climb off the boat to stand in waders while they do their work.

May they not drop their clipboards in the water.

May everyone remember to wear the gear that protects their hearing, that looks like oversized headphones, worn always when the airboat fans are running.

May the team understand the instructions shared by waving at each other across the din of the giant fans.

And may my images taken with a 400mm telephoto lens turn out to be clear and sharp, never blurry, as I have only one chance to get it right.

(Scroll down to see all images of the survey.)

A Ridgway’s rail (Rallus obsoletus) appears during a King tide

The pedestrian bridge passing over the slough at the Don Edwards S.F. Bay National Wildlife Refuge: the airboat has to travel under this.

The tide must go down before the airboat can pass under.

The tide is lowering.

The biologists get through.

On their way

The fans are stopped so the earphones come off.

The King tide has peaked and most pickleweed is under water, enabling the bird count.

The sora rail (Porzana carolina), of the family Rallidae.

Making one last circle while the waters are still  high.

The survey is done.

Heading back to the dock.

Views from the airboat.

A railroad bridge, open.

The airboats will wait here until the tide goes down and they can travel back under the pedestrian bridge.

Lunch while waiting for the waters to drop.

Past the bridge, on the way to the boat ramp.

Spray from the boat fan.

A job well done.