[CT Birds] Milford Point sandbars
paul.fusco at sbcglobal.net
Wed Aug 7 21:21:13 EDT 2013
FWIW, I agree with Nick's assessment that the base of the main sandbar is really the best spot to get good close looks at migrant shorebirds. The best time is when the tide is dropping and the birds start to feed on the exposed mudflats. At that time they are most approachable as they only have feeding on their mind.
As for the tern colony failing and being abandoned due to human disturbance, sorry but I don't buy that. Those birds were nesting since June with daily almost constant human presence in the form of walkers, joggers, and fishermen, including some that remain out on the point for hours at a time. I believe the sudden abandonment would only be caused by a catastrophic event like the huge astronomical tides that occurred between July 20th thru 25th that most likely washed out their nests and probably young chicks.
Also, roosting flocks on the bars are under constant threat from breeding peregrines and migrating merlins. The flocks are restless and frequently jumpy. One other threat that they have to be vigilant about is loose dogs that some people bring out there. All shorebirds are naturally petrified of dogs as they see them being predators like foxes.
I have been going to MP for 25+ years and have seen it change from when least terms used to nest in the beach sand on the mainland where the platform now stands. At that time the mainland beach was more open with less grass.
Least terns are dynamic, and somewhat nomadic as they may try to nest a couple of times in different places if they lose their first nest. Our birds mix with others from Long Island and other nearby states. Loss of suitable beach nesting habitat is a great concern for these birds in CT. When they nest in places that are prone to tidal flooding their productivity is impacted. They live and nest on the edge and will synchronize their nest incubation period to be between the extreme tides. In my experience in CT the most successful least terns are the ones that begin their nests earliest in the season.
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