PIPL

PIPL

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Please share waterbirds eBird checklists

If you could, please share any eBird checklists that include shorebirds, terns, herons or egrets with the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds at ctwaterbirds@gmail.com whenever you can. We have requested this help in previous years, and please keep them coming in 2020!

There is a button on eBird to share in the upper left when viewing checklists, and if you click that and enter ctwaterbirds@gmail.com you can easily do so with applicable checklists. Even old checklists can be sent if you have any from earlier in the year. This helps us record the staging and nesting areas for these birds - those that we do not monitor every pair in Connecticut as we do for Piping Plovers and American Oystercatchers - and also helps us track volunteer hours for folks who are recording waterbird activity. Please be sure these checklists contain your time spent in the field in the reports to help track level of effort.

This is a huge help in 2020 when we have had a very difficult year for AAfCW and CT DEEP due to COVID-19. The more information, data and time from the field, the better. Your assistance is greatly appreciated. If you are not an "official" monitor, we still would love your time and data, thanks!

Scott Kruitbosch
AAfCW Volunteer Coordinator

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Beach Umbrellas

It can be very difficult for our beach nesting birds to find the right beach umbrella to buy for the family. All too often their habitats have been stripped of vegetation for one reason or another, from too much human traffic in sensitive areas to impacts from severe weather or climate change. Beaches are also frequently cleaned by hand and/or machine for our recreation, leaving little besides sand, removing the wrack line and anything else that washes ashore.

I was surveying one of our focal sites with a colleague this summer when we could not find two American Oystercatcher hatchlings. Their parents were around, though we were not very close to them. No birds were interacting with us, which is as it should be. After a few minutes we noticed one hatchling, finally...

That type of cover is very important when it comes to finding a safe spot to hide from predators (including humans, dogs, and cats), and to stay cool on particularly sunny and hot summer days. While we were happy to see this bird, where was the other little one? Look closer! 

In real life, we kept walking down the shoreline, and a couple minutes later we spotted the second hatchling foraging with its sibling and parents. Given the bright conditions in the field, I did not even notice it hunkered down completely in the shade against the driftwood until editing photos that evening. Cover and camouflage made it essentially invisible even with trained staff searching for it, providing a superb demonstration of why habitat quality is so important for our endangered waterbirds.

Scott Kruitbosch
AAfCW Volunteer Coordinator
RTPI Manager of Connecticut Programs

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Holidays at the Beach

Yesterday was Labor Day, and we have hit the unofficial end of the beach season in Connecticut. Our Piping Plovers have finished nesting, and there are only a handful left in the state that will soon depart. Even during this year's COVID-19 pandemic the shoreline was filled with people for most of the summer. 



Can you spot the Piping Plover sitting on a nest in the first photo? These images are from July 4, 2020 in Milford. That bird actually incubated through the activity, but the nest was lost a day or two later. This is not to assign any blame to anyone specific or groups of people visiting the shore in general, or to assess whether or not this was in line with best practices for public health and safety with people packed together so tightly including many visitors from neighboring states...it is what it is, and discussions like this go far beyond a blog or Facebook post.

The point is this is what the birds have to cope with annually, made all the more difficult in 2020 with fewer staff, less fencing and signage, and more people flocking to the outdoors than ever, often neglecting the environment by trespassing, harassing wildlife, littering, and so forth. This is all part of why our efforts by volunteers and staff are so vital to protecting endangered species and habitats.

Scott Kruitbosch
AAfCW Volunteer Coordinator
RTPI Manager of Connecticut Programs

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Shorebirds Sharing the Shore

We spread the philosophy of sharing the shore with our shorebirds and terns, but sometimes they have to share that same shore with one another. Connecticut's nesting areas are very small - tiny offshore islands, a slice of tidal marsh, patches of sandy beach and dune surrounded by homes or beachgoers. Even when a pair has some space, there are other individuals or pairs to compete with on that territory. Once that is settled, you realize other species are all around you as well. These neighbors may have kids of their own, and then they wander into your yard and your house...



That Piping Plover parent did not appreciate the two young American Oystercatchers entering its exclosure. After some flapping and some yelling, the little ones were run out of the area and pushed back towards the waterline with mom and dad. It was a cute interaction for us to see from afar, but these squabbles expend yet more energy, similar to when visitors push them off their nests or birders and photographers pursue them on the beach. They can even turn dangerous or deadly at times. It's not an easy world out there, and it's all the more reason we must give them every advantage possible each spring, remembering that even with the best of intentions we are a threat as well.

Scott Kruitbosch
AAfCW Volunteer Coordinator
RTPI Manager of Connecticut Programs