[CT Birds] Critical Waterbird Nesting Time

Comins, Patrick PCOMINS at audubon.org
Thu Jun 6 09:13:22 EDT 2013

I believe the info Nick is referring to is related to large stretches of completely closed beaches.   In such situations, predators can become more bold.   Whereas in areas with regulated access the plovers can do fine.  A couple of points of difference between CT and MA, Ct has much smaller areas of beach to work with, making it harder to be on the beach without disturbing a colony.  Also, ownership is different between the states;  in CT Punic realm starts at mean high water, in ma landowners own to low water line, meaning beaches can be closed/private entirely.  

Also, this may be relevant to plovers, but LeTe are more sensitive to disturbance.  These are voluntary measures we are asking folks to take, but it is in all of our best interests to keep Least Terns nesting in CT.

Patrick Comins

Sent from my iPhone

On Jun 6, 2013, at 8:53 AM, "MIN HUANG" <mhuang at snet.net> wrote:

> I believe that here in CT hatching success for piping plovers does vary a little 
> bit between fenced and unfenced nests (higher in fenced), but that overall 
> production (number fledged) doesn't differ between the two.  I may be off, since 
> I do not have all of those data at my fingertips.  Chris Elphicks' lab may be 
> able to more definitively answer the question completely.
> Min Huang
> Columbia
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Nick Bonomo <nbonomo at gmail.com>
> To: "Comins, Patrick" <PCOMINS at audubon.org>
> Cc: "skruitbosch at ctaudubon.org" <skruitbosch at ctaudubon.org>; 
> "ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org" <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>; Jane Olsen 
> <olsenj at stlukesct.org>
> Sent: Thu, June 6, 2013 8:34:51 AM
> Subject: Re: [CT Birds] Critical Waterbird Nesting Time
> 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
> www.shorebirder.com
> 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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