One important point that I wanted to mention that had not been brought up during the training sessions or as of yet in our blog this year was our need for negative data. What does that mean? When you go out and monitor on your beaches you may see a lot of our target species...or you may end up seeing none of them. It has been cold and snowy so far in March 2013 and it may continue some into April. Even some of the traditionally busiest beaches are still devoid of Piping Plovers.
If you visit a beach, monitor for your scheduled time, observe and speak to beachgoers, and see no birds, we still want to have your data! This negative data is important to us in a bunch of ways. It lets us know that you were there on the beach at your scheduled time and that birds were simply not there (instead of say that you had to miss monitoring that day). We can still learn about any disturbances and human activities on the beach even if there are no birds to report. We can record arrival dates more accurately and target our staff to sites more appropriately.
Later in the season when the birds have returned the negative reports are still important. Places like Silver Sands State Park had trouble holding any Piping Plovers last year and did not have any nesting pairs. A report of no Piping Plovers seen there in May is extremely important to us. While we would much rather read a wonderful account of so many of our species being recorded by all of you we still need to receive monitoring data even when no birds are found whatsoever. That negative data goes a long way in helping us understand Connecticut's coastal waterbirds.
Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds, Audubon Connecticut and the
Connecticut Audubon Society partnering to improve conditions for coastal
waterbirds in Connecticut.