[CT Birds] Milford Point

charles barnard jr chbarnjr at gmail.com
Wed Aug 7 22:46:19 EDT 2013

As someone who has monitored nesting Least Terns and Piping Plover on an
annual basis  for many years until I finally "packed it in" this season, I
feel that Scott's post has a lot of validity. Part of the monitor's job is
to write down the disturbances observed and the specific cause. Was there
evidence of predators? Were fishermen observed? Walkers? Food trash or bait
left behind? Dogs on leash or off leash? I have been literally cursed at
for telling people with dogs who were off-leash and running through fenced
off areas to leash their dogs. So, I know what the job is like and what the
problems are.

The bottom line is that disturbance caused by humans is an important factor
in the abandonment of nesting colonies. This usually happens when birds are
still on eggs. Once chicks hatch, the birds get more tenacious about
staying put.

As far as the "big tides" go, that is a large factor as well. However,
there was a large drop in numbers of Least Terns reported between June 26
and July 6. I don't think there were any unusually high tides in that time
period, although I will have to go back and check. Of course, the 4th of
July fireworks event occurred in that time period and may well have been a
factor, despite a big effort to minimize the disturbance by Plover/Least
Tern volunteers and staff. The volunteers do a good job and so does the
staff. They put in a lot of time and effort and the conclusions which they
arrive at are based upon direct observations.

I know that Nick and others care about the well-being of Piping Plovers and
Least Terns. So do the volunteers who monitor them. Trust what the staff
and volunteers say, because it is true.

Charlie Barnard Jr.

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