[CT Birds] Sandy Point

Richard Payne richardpayne07 at gmail.com
Tue Jun 2 17:59:28 EDT 2009

When I last went to Sandy Point on Saturday May 30th, I also found no least
or common terns anywhere in sight. But on a previous trip there, on May
21st, there were 15-20 pairs of least terns actively and enthusiastically
engaged in courtship flights, although they were not then defending
territories (at least against me). There were also two pair of common terns
on the 21st. So sometime between the 21st and the 30th the terns abandoned
the site. Why this happened is a good question. Would they recolonize the
point this late in the season?


On Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 1:21 PM, Milan Bull <mbull at ctaudubon.org> wrote:

> 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
> (203)259-6305
> mbull at ctaudubon.org
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