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.

 

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.