Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fencing Dates and Correction/Additional Updates

As Piping Plovers and American Oystercatchers continue to trickle in to our colder than usual March shores we have a lot to cover before official monitoring begins this weekend. Fencing dates have been established for the spring, and we'd appreciate all the help we can get!

  • Griswold Point's fencing date is actually Wednesday, April 5 and we ask volunteers to meet at Griswold Point in Old Lyme at 9:45am or the I-95 exit 70 commuter parking lot by 9:30am to carpool over.
  • Sandy/Morse Point's fencing date is Monday, April 3 at 10:00am in West Haven with a rain date of 4/6. We will meet in the parking lot.
  • Stratford's Long Beach fencing date is Friday, April 7 at 10:00am with a rain date of 4/10. We will meet in the far west end of the parking lot.
  • Bluff Point State Park in Groton has a fencing date of Thursday, April 13 and a rain date of 4/18. We will meet in the parking area and CT DEEP will shuttle people out to the beach.

We will notify you ASAP if these dates are to be postponed. Remember that any and all volunteers are welcome including those who are not monitors. Volunteers should bring: work gloves, water, a snack, appropriate footwear, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and whatever else you may need avoid too much sun. These locations can either be quite cool or very warm depending on the day so dress for any weather. A pocket knife or multi-tool can be handy and a sledge hammer or mallet can be helpful to bring. Plan for heavy lifting and toting, but be mindful of your safety. Less intensive work needed includes stringing posts and putting up signs. Please email us at ctwaterbirds@gmail.com if you can make it to any or all of these dates, and thank you!

Other important notes today include...

  • We are awaiting the additional volunteer documents from CT DEEP for those who did not receive them at training or signed up recently. They will be coming from DEEP soon, and we'll send them out and post them when received.
  • Scheduling continues, and if you have not yet scheduled your monitoring this year, please do so now! We are about to start our season.
  • Were you unable to attend training and need extra help? Please consider attending the volunteer field training for new monitors at Sandy/Morse Points in West Haven on Sunday, April 9, 10:00am-12:00pm. Additionally, we can set you up with a member of our field staff to meet you on the beach - please let us know!
  • A video of our March 4th training will soon be made available so that you can view it as a refresher or as a monitor who was unable to attend the session. We will email a link to it when it is ready.
  • Are you a monitor at Sandy/Morse Points in West Haven, or will you be helping us there later with fireworks coverage or fencing removal? Please let us know and email us at ctwaterbirds@gmail.com with your snail mail address and vehicle license plate information so that we can submit it to West Haven. They will send you a parking pass that can be used only for monitoring purposes. This parking pass is necessary as staff at a kiosk will need to see it or be paid a fee which we cannot cover beginning later this year.
  • Keep in mind that rising and high tides at Griswold Point and Milford Point can cut the beaches and sand bars off from the mainland. Please be aware of this when venturing out and that it is often better to visit near low tide for the safety of the birds as well.
  • Also please remember that with the continuing often inclement early spring weather conditions we want to stay home if the temperature is below 50 degrees, it is quite windy, or if it is precipitating.
  • Lastly, it seems Optimum email accounts are rejecting all of our emails. If you or a friend have not received them this is why. We will be contacting you otherwise and potentially you can use another email to receive information. However, rest assured that your emails are being received on our end, and that you can still submit data this way or by the electronic form while reading all of these updates in our blog.

Thank you all, and as always, please reach out to us at ctwaterbirds@gmail.com for anything. We hope to see you at a fencing date soon!

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 ctwaterbirds@gmail.com 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 ctwaterbirds@gmail.com 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 ctwaterbirds@gmail.com 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 ctwaterbirds@gmail.com. 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 ctwaterbirds@gmail.com.  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’ gmail.com or contact me directly via skruitbosch ‘AT’ rtpi.org.

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: http://www.newhavenbirdclub.org/calendar/ 
Thank you for your help!!!