[CT Birds] Critical Waterbird Nesting Time

Nick Bonomo nbonomo at gmail.com
Thu Jun 6 08:34:25 EDT 2013

>From a scientific perspective, have there been any studies done relating
human beach traffic to breeding success rate? Several years ago at a talk
in Massachusetts, a veteran plover authority once told me that, at least
locally, there was no significant difference in breeding success between
completely closed beaches and those with heavy below-high-tide-line-only
foot traffic, which I found interesting. Has anything been published on the
matter for either plovers or terns?

Nick Bonomo
Wallingford, CT

On Sat, Jun 1, 2013 at 12:56 PM, Comins, Patrick <PCOMINS at audubon.org>wrote:

> In Connecticut it is pretty difficult to restrict access entirely in
> coastal areas.  The only areas where this is feasible under state laws are
> Natural Area Preserves (such as Duck Island or Charles Island) or private
> reserves such as Griswold Point (TNC), or in some cases of National
> Wildlife Refuge lands.  Even then, for mainland areas, it is difficult to
> control access below mean high water.  In the case of the sand bar at
> Milford, even the ownership of the spit is questionable, as it accreted
> naturally and then attached to the mainland.
> Our only real hope is to educate the public, limit traffic through
> voluntary measures and hope that leash/dog laws are respected/enforced.
>  There will be traffic, but hopefully the birding community can not
> compound the situation by respecting this request.
> Thank you for your understanding and no need for you to apologize, as you
> were there before this request was put out.   It also sounds like you were
> respectful.  Unfortunately, Least Terns are in such trouble in CT and the
> Atlantic Coast, and so vulnerable to disturbance that we really need to
> give them every advantage if we hope to maintain their populations in
> Connecticut.
> Sincerely,
> Patrick Comins, Audubon Alliance.
> Sent from my iPhone
> On Jun 1, 2013, at 12:34 PM, "Jane Olsen" <olsenj at stlukesct.org> wrote:
> > 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
> > it.
> >
> > 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.
> >
> > Thanks!
> > Scott
> > Coordinator, Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds
> >
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