[CT Birds] Sandy Point

Milan Bull mbull at ctaudubon.org
Tue Jun 2 13:21:27 EDT 2009

Piqued by Maria and Nick's report from Sandy Point, I took a ride with Charlie Barnard this morning to Sandy Point West Haven.  For as long as I can remember, Sandy Point has been a regionally important nesting site for common and least terns, and, more recently, a pioneering site for black skimmers in CT.  Much work has been done on the terns at this site over the years by Dennis Varza, DEP, Fred Sibley, etc.  For the last couple of years, COA has sponsored an intern to monitor the site for disturbances, and DEP volunteers and staff biologists work hard to rope off the colony and erect exclosures for nesting plovers.   Today there are four pairs of piping plovers, two pairs of American oystercatchers, and a couple pairs of spotted sandpipers.  Not a single nesting tern or skimmer is in evidence here!  What was a raucous colony of breeding birds is now like Silent Spring.  The question is why?  Peregrines? I doubt it, as they have been around for several years now.  Tidal wash?  It hasn't affected the plovers.  Old Field Creek marsh restoration?  The new channel and tide gates don't seem to have changed the point topography yet.  Delayed?  It is getting late in the season not to notice at least courtship activity.   Clearly, tern colonies are dynamic and ephemeral, but this colony seems to have been such a permanent part of the shoreline it is hard to reconcile that has disappeared.  Let's hope it returns, and soon.

Milan G. Bull

Senior Director of Science and Conservation

Connecticut Audubon Society

2325 Burr St.

Fairfield, CT 06824


mbull at ctaudubon.org

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