[CT Birds] Critical Waterbird Nesting Time

Jane Olsen olsenj at stlukesct.org
Sat Jun 1 12:34:15 EDT 2013

I would like to respond to the email below.  I am somewhat of a novice
birder, but I love the activity and I am especially happy when I can be in
a natural area near the shore or a river.  As a fifth grade teacher, I try
to inspire my students by empowering them to identify and understand
birds.  On a recent, random school half-day, I took two of my keen young
naturalists on a "field trip" to Milford Audubon.  We walked out to the
beach and along the sand spit, and I was very aware of the noisy least
terns and the activity of numbers of piping plovers, some herding chicks.
We scrupulously avoided the roped-off areas, and tried very hard to be as
unthreatening as we could, while experiencing the excitement of sharing
this environment with these birds, and trying to identify as many of the
peeps as we could, practicing our field mark skills and using our Sibley
guide. I did feel quite uneasy, as I could see how ineffectual the rope
barriers are, and, indeed, in prior years I have encountered people with
unleashed dogs running along that same beach.  However, there are no
indications to the public that people ought not to be walking along that
sand spit at this time, or, if there are, they were not apparent to us.
All there are are the yellow signs on the rope barriers, and by the time
you are reading them, you are way too close. I have often in the past (for
example, on beaches in Delaware) encountered unequivocal signage that
prohibits ANY human traffic on a beach during shore bird breeding times,
and I have always honored them, grateful for the information.  I would
certainly not have taken my students out onto the spit if the area had been
posted as off-limits.
   I am wondering why this is not done, at least for the period in the
spring when the nests and the chicks are most vulnerable?  Of course we
will not make the same mistake again, but how many people are reading this
thread?  It is unrealistic and unfair to expect the general public to have
this awareness and police themselves, when there are no signs to help them
understand the limits.
   Thanks for the information, and good luck.   Jane Olsen

Jane Nicklin Olsen
Fifth Grade Teacher
St. Luke's School
New Canaan, CT 06840
email: olsenj at stlukesct.org
phone: +1 (203) 801-4905

From: Scott Kruitbosch <skruitbosch at ctaudubon.org>
Subject: [CT Birds] Critical waterbird nesting time
To: "ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org" <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Date: Friday, May 31, 2013, 3:25 PM

On this warm weekend and going forward in the near future please be
EXTREMELY careful at Milford Point of the dozens of Least Terns that are
attempting to nest and the over a dozen Piping Plover hatchlings running
around with several pairs of parents. It is extraordinarily important that
we limit all traffic on the spit, and if you could bird basically no
further than the Coastal Center platform that would be best. Venturing down
the spit, especially at high tides, to view or photograph birds endangers
their lives. Chicks are dying every day right now, and that's not a
dramatic exaggeration.

There is way too much traffic out there on a constant basis from people of
all sorts. There is also a reason we do not have many Least Terns ever
successfully nesting here and why Piping Plovers have such problems in CT.
The string fencing is not a barrier which should be approached at all. We
know birders are mindful of not going into it, but even standing next to it
means you are too close and at this point many of the birds are outside of

Piping Plovers calling? Least Terns diving at you? This all means you are
entirely too close and the birds are distressed. Tiny Piping Plover chicks
can easily go unnoticed as they freeze in the sand and rocks, and anyone
could step on one and crush it. All that I have said above is also
important at sites like Sandy/Morse Points, Bluff Point, Long Beach,
Griswold Point, and more. I'm sorry if this comes across as being a killjoy
but if you care about Connecticut's birds and the success of such imperiled
species in our state it is best to stay far away from nesting areas for the
next couple of months. We have scopes and binoculars for a reason and
viewing these awesome birds can easily be done from a safe distance in
public walkways, viewing platforms, or further up the shore. If you
absolutely must for some reason venture out on these beaches please go at
low tide and stay as close to the water as you can.

Please email me directly if you have any questions, comments, or
grievances. If you want to help out as a shorebird and tern monitor email
us at ctwaterbirds at gmail.com to sign up.

Coordinator, Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds


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