Thursday, May 4, 2017

Piping Plover Protection

I wanted to speak more about sharing the shore today, especially when it comes to our Piping Plovers. These little shorebirds have a lot to say about how you can help them, their nests, and their young stay safe all spring and summer, and it is very easy, too!

We all know that we should clean up after ourselves and leave nothing but footprints on the beach, preferably at or below the tidal line and away from nesting areas higher in the dune. Flushing birds off nests at this time of year can be deadly to the eggs, and nests may not all be exclosed immediately, so please be mindful of where you walk. Our dogs do have to stay at home, and they are not permitted on Connecticut beaches. We realize they are sweet family members, but the birds see them as vicious predators no matter their demeanor. We always want to observe the birds with binoculars and spotting scopes from a distance, never entering fenced areas even if we are trying to help. Photos can be taken but at such a distance that the bird pays us no mind (e.g. running away or a broken wing display are not good!), and we do not require them if you are a monitor or a volunteer. It is often best to leave the birds be as much as possible and hold the photography until after nesting has ended in the late summer, and to go birding in other locations during the most critical time in places where we can end up unintentionally intruding. Walking out on a tern nesting bar, for example, can be very disruptive.

Please keep in mind we have a formal monitoring system in place that is overseen by our regulatory agencies, and if you would like to volunteer with us at the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds to help the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in monitoring Piping Plovers, terrific! Email ctwaterbirds@gmail.com to register, undergo training, and sign-up for a schedule at one of our public beaches. We have to be very careful not to hug the birds too tightly, going to a beach frequently or allowing ourselves to become a distraction or disturbance to the very same birds we are trying to protect. This is a delicate balance, but considering we have set all-time success records repeatedly during the past several years of our work in AAfCW, we know our volunteers are the best and our methods seem to be working well. Thank you all for your efforts and your passion for our avian neighbors.

Scott Kruitbosch
AAfCW Volunteer Coordinator
RTPI Conservation & Outreach Coordinator

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