Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Exclosure work at Bluff Point

In the past couple of weeks AAfCW's Sean Graesser has helped the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) set up exclosures for Piping Plovers across the state. These exclosures keep predators of all sorts away from the nest and help protect the eggs from harm. The wonderfully talented crew from CT DEEP works on erecting these structures at dozens of nests across the Connecticut coast following a carefully crafted protocol during what is a stressful but ultimately beneficial time for the adults.

They also ensure that the parents return to each nest within a certain amount of time or they will remove the exclosure so as not to dissuade them from tending to the eggs. However, this is very rare, and the system works wonderfully. The hardest part is often spotting the nest itself, even with an adult on it! If you are an experienced volunteer you know how difficult it can be to find Piping Plovers when they are stationary on the sand, and it is no different for the experts.

Sean took these photos of the exclosures at Bluff Point, a couple of the birds, and a nest and eggs.

Keep in mind that shots like these can only be obtained when setting up an exclosure with those permitted to do so, as Sean was with CT DEEP. We should always stay very far from the exclosure, staff included. Even if someone was lucky enough not to disturb the birds, going near the nest could lead predators to it with their own tracks and scent. The exclosures work very well but are not entirely foolproof, and nothing more than a visit from an unsuccessful predator can spell doom for the eggs.

Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds, Audubon Connecticut and the Connecticut Audubon Society partnering to improve conditions for coastal waterbirds in Connecticut.

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