Shorebird Survey Time Again (Yay!)

Piping Plover at Milford Point.

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodius) at Milford Point.  Photo courtesy of Bill Batsford.

Earlier this week my International Shorebird Survey partner and I did our second survey of the season.  It was cold, windy but exhilarating out on the huge Milford Connecticut sandbar that comprises most of our survey area, and we were excited as we soon heard and then found very active Piping Plovers and Oystercatchers. Our main focus is shorebirds, especially the Threatened Piping Plover and the American Oystercatcher, which is federally classified as a Species of High Conservation Concern.  We report all the birds we see, not just shorebirds, and this week we tallied 34 species including a large mixed flock of about 400 gulls and ducks bobbing in the whitecaps as they fed offshore, probably on barnacle larvae.

Both the Piping Plovers and the Oystercatchers nest on the sandbar and I was fascinated to see that one of the pairs of Oystercatchers was standing in about the spot where they had nested last year.  They are known for nest site fidelity, so I think it may be the same pair although impossible to tell as they haven’t been banded.  The State of Connecticut and a corps of volunteers work putting up string fencing and cages around plover nests (exclosures) to try and protect them from predators.  Despite the signs and warnings pleading with people not to disturb the birds, people do go out, even with dogs, and they are frequently frightened off their nests.  If this happens often enough, the nest will fail.  Here’s hoping for a successful nesting season for these terrific birds.  Much of their success depends on our actions.

American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) at Milford Point.  Photo courtesy of Bill Batsford.

American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) at Milford Point. Photo courtesy of Bill Batsford.


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    denhug said,

    What a fun project! How many times will you survey the area?


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