Thursday, February 1, 2018

Volunteers Needed for Shorebird Monitoring 2018

Volunteers Needed for Shorebird Monitoring 2018

The Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds/CT DEEP Wildlife Division 2018 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 Wildlife Divisioni 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 31stth 2018 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. While there are only a few changes to the process this year, attendance by everyone planning to join us for the 2018 season is important. 

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, Wildlife Division.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Share waterbird checklists please!

We wanted to take a moment to ask that folks 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 2017!

There is a button on eBird to "share checklist with others in my party", and if click that and paste in 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 CT as we do for Piping Plovers and American Oystercatchers - and also helps us track volunteer hours for folks who are recording shorebird activity. Please be sure to estimate your time spent in the field in your reports to help track level of effort.

Thanks so much!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Volunteers Needed for Milford Point Beach Cleanup on November 9th

The Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, the City of Milford, the Friends of the Stewart B. McKinney Refuge, the Connecticut Audubon Society and the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds are collaborating to conduct a beach cleanup at Milford (a.k.a. Smith's) Point on Thursday, November 9th. Volunteers are needed to help remove trash and marine debris from the beach and collect it in bags and piles so it may be easily removed by trailer. Participants will meet at 10am at the CT Audubon Coastal Center, 1 Milford Point Rd., Milford, 06460. Gloves, trash bags and other essential will be provided, however it is advisable to bring your own water and bagged lunch. Email shaun_roche@fws to sign up.

Shaun Roche
Visitor Services Manager
Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge

Friday, September 29, 2017

2017 AAfCW Preliminary PIPL/AMOY numbers

We wanted to pass along some preliminary estimates for our Piping Plovers and American Oystercatchers from the very successful 2017 season. At the moment we believe 66 pairs of Piping Plovers fledged 100 chicks, with the pair total being the most all-time for Connecticut and the chicks the fourth highest total ever. Widespread nest washouts and predators certainly had an impact on the fledge count, but being able to successfully host that many pairs is a tremendous accomplishment and speaks to your superb stewardship efforts.

American Oystercatchers did very well once again this season with 63 pairs fledging 63 chicks. Connecticut also had 63 pairs last year, and we have now tied that all-time high. The chick total is second all-time to the 2015 count of 64. Your participation in AAfCW helps them on our beaches as well as offshore islands that are not regularly monitored by volunteers because you allow our staff more time to concentrate on ensuring their success in these remote areas. Once again, these are the preliminary numbers, and later in the season CT DEEP will verify the totals and provide counts for other species such as the Least Tern. Thank you all so much for your incredible work this year!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Black Skimmer

Here's a different type of waterbird sighting in the form of the funky Black Skimmer. This uncommon species is even more scarce this late in the season, especially when found hanging out in a parking lot with a bunch of gulls.

The unique bird flies low over the water and opens that enormous bill to drag it under the surface to catch small fish. This young one may not be feeling as good as it should, though the bird still flies well and seems to be physically fit. We hope it heads south soon.