Clearing out my 2014 photos, take 8: Least Tern

Photo by Chris Bosak A Least Tern sits among the rocks at the beach at Connecticut Audubon's Coastal Center at Milford Point in spring 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Least Tern sits among the rocks at the beach at Connecticut Audubon’s Coastal Center at Milford Point in spring 2014.

Here’s my next photo in the series of 2014 photos that I never got around to looking at and posting.

As we are now stuck in this deep freeze here in New England, here’s a warm-weather shot for you. It’s a Least Tern on the beach at Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point. Last week I posted a Piping Plover that I saw during my volunteering to monitor plovers and terns on the Connecticut shoreline. Well, here’s the other half: the terns. The plovers come in much earlier in the spring than the terns. Least Terns are handsome birds with yellow bills, compared the red or orange bills of most terns. Least Terns, as their name suggests, are also smaller than most terns. They can also be quite aggressive on their nesting areas (who can blame them?) and they will continually dive-bomb intruders. Yes, that includes innocent shorebird monitors just trying to help them out.

Piping Plovers and Least Terns are threatened species in Connecticut.

Clearing out my 2014 photos, Take 2: Piping Plover preening

Photo by Chris Bosak A Piping Plover preens on the beach at Milford Point, Conn., in April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Piping Plover preens on the beach at Milford Point, Conn., in April 2014.

Here’s my next photo in the series of 2014 photos that I never got around to looking at and posting. I ran a similar photo in April, but here’s another look at a Piping Plover _ an endangered bird in New England _ preening at Audubon Coastal Connecticut Center at Milford Point. The photo was taken in April 2014.

Click here to read more about Piping Plovers and to see more photos of this spectacular shorebird. 

Help protect shorebirds on the beaches this Memorial Day Weekend

Photo by Chris Bosak An American Oystercatcher walks along the beach at Coastal Center at Milford Point this spring.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American Oystercatcher walks along the beach at Coastal Center at Milford Point this spring.

Photo by Chris Bosak Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, April, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, April, 2014.

I’ve been volunteering to monitor shorebirds at a Connecticut beach this spring. This involves looking for Piping Plovers, American Oystercatchers and other birds that rely on coastal areas to raise their families. I’ve found several nests of plovers and oystercatchers and it’s a thrill to know they are using our beaches to raise the next generation of shorebirds. The areas are roped off and nests are further protected by fencing.

Until now, traffic has been fairly light on the beaches. A few beach walkers, some with dogs on leashes, are all I’ve come across. (Of course I monitor the birds on Monday mornings, so beach traffic is expected to be light.) But with the Memorial Day weekend upon us, beach traffic will increase tremendously — just at a time when the birds are most vulnerable with eggs and babies to take care of.

Photo by Chris Bosak Piping Plover egg. Plovers typically lay four eggs in their nest, which is nothing more than a small depression in the ground.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Piping Plover egg. Plovers typically lay four eggs in their nest, which is nothing more than a small depression in the ground.

When you visit beaches this weekend and throughout the summer, please keep in mind that shorebirds may be nesting nearby and to give them a wide berth. The most vulnerable areas along our beaches are roped off, so mind the barriers and keep dogs on leashes (if dogs are even allowed at your favorite beach.) The crowded beaches are not likely to have nesting shorebirds, but be mindful when visiting the less traveled coastal areas.

Thank you and have a great weekend.

Here’s more information from the American Bird Conservancy on protecting shorebirds.

 

White-winged Scoter hanging out with shorebirds

Photo by Chris Bosak A White-winged Scoter rests on the beach as a Ruddy Turnstone shares the area at Coastal Center at Milford Point on Monday, May 12, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A White-winged Scoter rests on the beach as a Ruddy Turnstone shares the area at Coastal Center at Milford Point on Monday, May 12, 2014.

While doing my weekly volunteer shorebird monitoring at Coastal Center at Milford Point, I came across a surprise bird on the beach. A White-winged Scoter, usually a bird I see in the distance on the waters of Long Island Sound during the winter, was sitting on the beach with dozens of little (in comparison) shorebirds.

It was an odd scene to see the scoter resting on the beach as Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin and Semipalmated Plovers scampered all around it.

Scoters are large sea ducks. Three types are seen along the New England coast: Surf; Black; and White-winged.

The day also included sightings of Peregrine Falcon (a young one sitting on the beach), Least Terns, Brant, American Oystercatcher, Piping Plover, Lesser Yellowlegs, and other shorebirds.

Photo by Chris Bosak White-winged Scoter at Milford Point, Connecticut, May, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
White-winged Scoter at Milford Point, Connecticut, May, 2014.

There’s the plover

Did you find the Piping Plover in the photo I posted last week? Most people did, at least eventually, based on the poll results at the end of the post.

The answer is below. Click on “continue reading” to see the photo again with an arrow pointing to the bird.

For those who missed the photo, scroll down a few posts and see how long it takes you to find the Piping Plover. Then come back here for the answer. Thanks for checking out http://www.birdsofnewengland.com

Continue reading

Shorebird quiz time: Find the Piping Plover

Photo by Chris Bosak Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, Conn., April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, Conn., April 2014.

My latest For the Birds Column focuses on the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds, or in other words, volunteering to monitor Piping Plovers, Least Terns, American Oystercatchers and other shorebirds. The program is important in order to help protect these threatened birds. (See the column here.)

To give you an idea of the challenges faced by volunteers in finding Piping Plovers, here’s a fun little quiz for everybody. When on the beach you really have to look for motion in order to find the birds most of the time as they blend in so terrifically with their beach surroundings. With that in mind … the task of the quiz is simple: find the Piping Plover in the above photo.

Let me know how you did. I’ll post the answer later this week for those who can’t find it.

Piping Plover monitoring update

Photo by Chris Bosak Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, April, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, April, 2014.

So I woke up the boys for school, got them breakfast and rushed them to the car for drop off. I turned into the school parking lot: empty. No school. Scheduled “staff development” day. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve done that. Damn.

Oh well. I’ve committed to monitoring Piping Plovers and other shorebirds and, later, Least Terns on a volunteer basis on Monday mornings through the spring and summer. “Boys, we’re going shorebird monitoring.”

They didn’t object and Will was actually excited and wanted to carry the camera with him. I filled them in on what we were looking for and, more importantly, why we were looking for them. Piping Plovers are a threatened species and protecting their nesting areas is critically important.

We saw about 10 Piping Plovers today (Monday, April 21, 2014), including a pair copulating. “That’s how they make babies,” I told Andrew and told him how to spell ‘copulation.’ He was the official note taker for the day.  Wonder if he’ll try to use that word in one of his fifth-grade essays. It’s OK as long as he uses it correctly and age appropriately, I guess.

We also saw eight American Oystercatchers, a pair of Osprey and countless shells, which entertained the boys as much as the birds.

All in all, a good, educational day with the boys. Thank goodness school was out.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Piping Plover preens at Milford Point in spring of 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Piping Plover preens at Milford Point in spring of 2014.