Please remember that we want to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org after every trip you take to your beach during volunteer monitoring. Even when you make a visit to the shore and do not see any Piping Plovers, American Oystercatchers, Least Terns or Common Terns - or any other notable waterbirds - we need this "negative data". Knowing about a lack of birds is just as important as an abundance of birds.
Negative data is important to us in several ways. It lets us know that you were there on the beach at your scheduled time and that birds were simply not there instead us thinking you may have had to miss your monitoring that day and wondering what was or was not present. We can still learn from you about any disturbances and human activities on the beach even if there are no birds to report. We will target our field staff to sites more appropriately with a more complete picture of what is or is not going on. We can also add to historic data from past years - for example, if a given beach now has no Piping Plovers during the entire 2014 season and this is the third year in a row after decades of the species breeding there then we will know with even more certainty that there is a problem that needs to be addressed at that site.
Please remember this throughout the season and send us a report each time after you monitor. 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, protect and help Connecticut's coastal waterbirds.