Friday, March 17, 2017

AAfCW 2017 Scheduling, Dates & General News

Good afternoon all!

Our first Piping Plovers arrived back in Connecticut at Milford Point on Monday. However, the blizzard and now potentially more snow this weekend will keep others to the south, and any birds that have already arrived will be strictly foraging. It should be some time before we see any nesting activity, and we can continue to prepare until we officially begin monitoring in April. Please submit your monitoring schedules to us at so we can hopefully have most volunteers penciled in to dates and AM/PM slots at our beaches by around April 1.

Piping Plover in West Haven in spring 2016

Even if you could not attend training with AAfCW and CT DEEP then you can still help us! Email us back at so we can set you up with one of our seasonal staff for training, and we will also complete the necessary paperwork.

On that note, CT DEEP will be preparing the documents to be made available electronically soon. We are waiting for proper email addresses and contact information to be included in them. Once they are set we will email them to you if you still need a waiver form or wish to review more of what we discussed in training. We will also make them available here in our blog and remove any older and non-applicable information. Additionally, we will be making a webinar/audio recording of the training available for anyone as a refresher or those who could not attend.

There are a couple of important dates to keep in mind:

-On the morning of April 4 we will be looking for volunteers to help AAfCW, CT DEEP and The Nature Conservancy set up string fencing and signage at Griswold Point in Old Lyme. We will send you more details soon, but please save the date and email us at if you can help! Other dates at additional beaches will be scheduled by CT DEEP shortly.

-CT DEEP and AAfCW will host field training for new monitors at Sandy/Morse Points in West Haven on Sunday, April 9, from 10AM to noon. We will walk the beach and see Piping Plovers, American Oystercatchers, and likely other shorebirds while discussing more of the details of monitoring. Please let us know if you'll be joining us by sending us an email at This session is specifically for first-time volunteers and will certainly help you get a feel for effective and safe beach monitoring.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions, and we will update you again soon as we near the beginning of our field season.

Thank you all!
Scott Kruitbosch
AAfCW Volunteer Coordinator

Monday, January 30, 2017

Volunteers Needed for Shorebird Monitoring 2017

The Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds/CT DEEP 2017 monitoring and stewardship season is about to begin! Please see below for details, and please pass this along to any new volunteers you feel would be interested in joining us. We hope all our past monitors will be returning this year after yet another record-setting season in 2017. We can only keep this success going with your help!

Spend your summer days at the beach and help protect a federally threatened species! The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds are seeking volunteers to monitor Piping Plovers and other shorebirds from early April until late August at beaches across our state.  A training and orientation session for new volunteers will be held on Saturday, March 4th 2017 (Snow date of Sunday, March 5th) from 10:30am to 12:00pm at the Audubon Connecticut Office at Stratford Point, 1207 Prospect Drive, Stratford, CT 06615; past volunteers will be offered a refresher from 9:00am to 10:15am.  The sessions will review the following: biology of the piping plover, how to monitor breeding pairs and chicks, volunteer organization and logistics, and law enforcement information. There are some changes to the process this year and attendance by everyone planning to join us for the 2017 season is important. 

Photos by Mark Rivadeneyra.

Atlantic Coast populations of Piping Plovers return to the Connecticut coast in March from their wintering grounds on the Gulf Coast and Caribbean. The cryptic nests of the piping plover are extremely susceptible to human disturbance, predation, and tidal wash outs. To enhance the survival and productivity of birds breeding in Connecticut, volunteers work at locations across the shoreline to observe the shorebirds, record and report nesting data, and educate the beach-going public about the monitoring program. Volunteers work 4 hour shifts from April until the end of the breeding season (usually in August) and must donate a minimum of 4 hours per month. The work can be very rewarding, as volunteers will have the opportunity to positively affect the nesting success of threatened shorebirds across the state.

For more information on the training session or for directions, please email the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds at  Reservations are not required; but an e-mail letting us know you will be attending is appreciated.

This training session is co-sponsored by the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds (Audubon Connecticut, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History and the Connecticut Audubon Society) and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 AAfCW Totals

I thought it would be a terrific time to update everyone on our Piping Plover and American Oystercatcher numbers for 2016 as we near the end of our year. Audubon Connecticut and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History are proud to be partners for the upcoming Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds' (AAfCW) sixth season in 2017, and over the past few years we have had a number of tremendous success stories. Our incredible 2014 season included an all-time record high number of fledged Piping Plovers for Connecticut with 116 birds aided by our volunteers, partners and staff. Results from the phenomenal 2015 season indicated we had the second highest number of fledged chicks ever at 112, right behind our own 2014 record. We also set the all-time record number of breeding pairs of Piping Plovers for the state in 2015 at 62, but this was broken in 2016 with 63 pairs!

Piping Plovers can be found feeding near the tidal line and nesting right above it, a sometimes precarious position for eggs and young

These birds produced 87 fledged chicks for a productivity rate of 1.38 chicks per pair, well above the federal recovery goal of 1.2 chicks per pair. High tide events, storms, predators and unfortunate human incidents all led to a decline in fledged chicks from the previous two seasons, but it was nevertheless the fourth highest total ever for our state.

A resting migrant Piping Plover

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is still finalizing the official numbers for Least Terns nesting in 2016. However, we have completed our report for the American Oystercatcher, and it is yet more great news as a record high number of 63 pairs nested in Connecticut in 2016. These birds produced 53 fledglings for a productivity rate of .84 chicks per pair, the second highest total of chicks fledged and the second highest productivity rate ever recorded in the state. Our daily work to protect breeding areas, from the beaches to remote offshore islands, is undoubtedly behind this increase in nesting attempts and success.

American Oystercatcher nesting pair by RTPI President Twan Leenders

We would like to thank our hundreds of volunteers for putting in approximately 4,000 volunteer hours as tallied through only the first three quarters of 2016! None of this work could be done without these dedicated citizen scientists. Remember that our efforts extend through the end of the year as we survey for birds such as the Black-bellied Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Killdeer, Ruddy Turnstone, lingering egrets, herons and more that spend the winter with us.

Audubon Connecticut and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History are looking forward to what will be a very busy and extremely important 2017 field season – starting in less than three months – after Hurricane Matthew tore through the Bahamas and the wintering grounds of many Piping Plovers. Hundreds or more may have perished, and we may have fewer pairs returning to us, making our stewardship and outreach efforts all the more important for those that have survived and will depend on Connecticut to recover from these losses. As always, if you have questions about the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds or wish to volunteer, please email us at ctwaterbirds ‘AT’ or contact me directly via skruitbosch ‘AT’

Scott Kruitbosch
RTPI Conservation & Outreach Coordinator
AAfCW Volunteer Coordinator

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sandy Point Cleanup

Want to help Piping Plovers? Consider helping out this Saturday from 9a-12p at a coastal clean-up at Sandy Point and other locations in West Haven. A clean site prevents predators, attracted by food and litter, from becoming accustomed to visiting Sandy Point, one of the most important nesting locations in the state for Piping Plover. More info can be found at: 
Thank you for your help!!!

Monday, August 29, 2016

AAfCW 2016 Volunteer Update #23

This is the twenty-third weekly update by the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds (AAfCW) for the 2016 season. Today's update includes reports of Piping Plover, American Oystercatcher, Least Tern and Common Tern from August 22 through 11:00 a.m. on August 29 with sightings of birds by volunteers and staff.

Informational updates:

This is the final regular weekly update for the 2016 season. If you have yet to submit any data please do so as soon as possible. We thank you all once again for the tremendous and invaluable work you have done all spring and summer long. We will email numbers on bird totals for the season later in the autumn/winter once they are finalized by CT DEEP.

Survey and monitoring updates:

Piping Plover
1 juvenile at Silver Sands State Park on 8/23
1 adult, 1 fledgling at Long Beach on 8/23
1 adult/fledgling at Long Beach on 8/23
1 fledgling at Long Beach on 8/24
1 juvenile at Sandy/Morse Points on 8/24
1 fledgling at Long Beach on 8/24
1 juvenile at Sandy/Morse Points on 8/25
1 juvenile at Silver Sands State Park on 8/25
2 adults/juveniles at Sandy/Morse Points on 8/26

American Oystercatcher
2 adults, 1 juvenile at Mouth of Oyster River, West Haven/Milford (Baybrook Beach) on 8/22
49 adults at Short Beach on 8/23
1 adult at Long Beach on 8/24
4 adults at Milford Point on 8/24
1 adult at Long Beach on 8/24
35 adults at Milford Point on 8/25
2 adults at Griswold Point on 8/25
1 adult, 1 juvenile at Bluff Point on 8/25

Least Tern
15 adults/juveniles at Sandy/Morse Points on 8/24
4 adults/juveniles at Sandy/Morse Points on 8/25

Common Tern
500 adults at Sandy/Morse Points on 8/22
125 adults at Short Beach on 8/23
3 adults at Silver Sands State Park on 8/23
5 adults at Sandy/Morse Points on 8/23
50 adults/juveniles at Sandy/Morse Points on 8/24
150 adults/juveniles at Milford Point on 8/25
150 adults/juveniles at Sandy/Morse Points on 8/26
38 adults/juveniles at Sasco Hill Beach on 8/28

This concludes update #23 through 08/29/16 as of 12:00 p.m.