Category Archives: Birds

GLOUCESTER’S “PIPING PLOVER PLAN” REVIEWED BY KEN WHITTAKER AND MEET ADRIENNE LENNON, GLOUCESTER’S NEW CONSERVATION AGENT!

Tuesday evening at the City Council meeting, former Gloucester conservation agent Ken Whittaker reviewed the City’s 3PPlan (Piping Plover Plan) with the Councilors.

We Piping Plover volunteer monitors are grateful for the time and effort Ken has put forth in helping to protect our threatened Piping Plovers. We’re especially appreciative of the time he spent coordinating the volunteer monitors–not an easy task! We wish Ken all the best in his retirement.

Ken and PiPl Volunteer Monitors, Good Harbor Beach

Ken and Jim Destino introduced Adrienne Lennon, Gloucester’s new conservation agent. We had a few minutes after the introduction to speak with Adrienne. Her experience includes working for seven years at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, located in Ipswich on the Plum Island causeway, adjacent to the infamous Pink House. While there, Adrienne gained extensive knowledge in Piping Plover conservation. She is especially interested in preserving and protecting our beach dunes. Adrienne can be reached at alennon@gloucester-ma.gov.

Best of success to Adrienne in her new position as Gloucester’s Conservation Agent!

Photos of Ken and Adrienne at City Hall courtesy of City Council Vice President Steve LeBlanc

During Piping Plover nesting season, I have visited the public beach at the northern end of Plum Island, Newbury Beach. I believe the PiPl nesting areas at Newbury Beach are monitored by Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center. Newbury Beach is similar in several ways to Good Harbor Beach in that it is a popular town beach in a residential area with many access points and nearby hotels. Last year the beach and dunes were extremely hard hit by late winter storms, just as was Good Harbor Beach.

About Joppa Flats Education Center: Overlooking the Merrimack River and near the entrance to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, the Joppa Flats Education Center offers unique educational opportunities for people of all ages. Here, you can explore the region’s wildlife-rich habitats (salt marshes, mudflats, rivers, bays, and coastal waters) through guided tours, marine touch tanks, art exhibits, drop-in programs, and interpretive displays.

Scenes from behind the Joppa Flats Education Center and Plum Island causeway.

Councilors Steve LeBlanc and Melissa Cox wearing Piping Plover monitor hats provided by Ken Whittaker.

Coffins Beach and Wingaersheek Beach are going to be more closely monitored this year for Piping Plovers. The above photo is from 2016 when NINE chicks fledged at Coffins Beach!

Three-day-old Piping Plover Chick, Good Harbor Beach

FURTHER EVIDENCE OF HOW DOGS ON THE BEACH HARM NESTING PIPING PLOVERS

Tonight Gloucester City Councilors are meeting at 7pm to vote on an ordinance change that will impact whether Gloucester’s Piping Plovers will or will not have a chance to successfully nest at Good Harbor Beach. Statements have been made referencing “…a small number of dog walkers”  at Good Harbor Beach during the Piping Plover nesting season.

Very plainly said, if there were only a small number of dogs, the Piping Plovers would not have nested in the parking lot. The problem is much greater than a small number.

The faces have been blocked because I don’t want law enforcement to go after specific individuals.  The photos are meant to show the much larger issue, that there are many, many dogs disrupting the nesting area on Good Harbor Beach during the month of April.

All photos were taken on April 28th and 29th at Good Harbor Beach. April 28th was a warm day. The nesting area at No. 3 was being impossibly overrun with dogs in the roped off section. Because of the uncontrolled dogs running through the nesting area, it would have taken at least three monitors to monitor only area No. 3, not to mention area No. 1.

Photos No. 2-14 were taken within a one hour time period.

Photos 2-5 show a woman on her cell phone ignoring her dog, her dog runs into the nesting area and goes pooh, she goes into the nesting area to clean up and can’t find the pooh, while in the mean time, her dog continues to run through the nesting area with a pal.

The above group of photos shows a bunch of different dogs playing in the nesting area and could be photographed with roping as part of the photo.

These dogs dogs were up by the nest, at the dune line.

Photo 15 show the dog tracks in the nesting area.

In the mean time, the PiPl had given up on the beach and had moved to the parking lot because there was far less dog disturbance there. Photos 16-18 show their parking lot nest scrape, mating behavior, and trying to camouflage on the white lines of the parking lot.

I returned to Good Harbor beach the following morning, an on leash day, hoping that it would be quieter and the PiPl could catch a break, but instead found a number of dogs off leash. Photos 23 and 24.

I hope these photos are helpful in showing why it is so critically important to prohibit dogs on the beach during the month of April. And that it is clearly not a “small number of dog walkers” causing disruption to nesting.

Please come tonight and show you support for Gloucester’s Piping plovers. Thank you ❤

Where: Gloucester City Hall, Kyrouz Auditorium

When: at 7pm

GIVE THE CHICKS A CHANCE!

PLEASE COME TONIGHT AND SHOW SUPPORT FOR GLOUCESTER’S PIPING PLOVERS

Where: Gloucester City Hall, Kyrouz Auditorium

When: 7pm tonight

Poster by Meadow Anderson

If you cannot attend, please email your City Councilors  this afternoon and let them know you are in favor of the ordinance changes to help the Piping Plovers nest at Good Harbor Beach. Thank you

smemhard@gmail.com,

mcox@gloucester-ma.gov,

plundberg@gloucester-ma.gov,

sleblanc@gloucester-ma.gov,

snolan@gloucester-ma.gov,

johara@gloucester-ma.gov,

vgilman@gloucester-ma.gov,

khecht@gloucester-ma.gov,

JSenos@gloucester-ma.gov

 

TUESDAY 7PM KYROUZ AUDITORIUM: GLOUCESTER CITY COUNCIL MEETING TO VOTE TO HELP GLOUCESTER’S PLOVERS

Gloucester’s City Council is voting on an issue that will have tremendous impact on our Piping Plovers.

When: Tuesday, February 26th, at 7:00pm

Where: Kyrouz Auditorium, Gloucester City Hall

For more information, please find below links to posts and articles:

GLOUCESTER’S PIPING PLOVERS NEED YOUR HELP TUESDAY NIGHT

HOW DO GLOUCESTER’S DOGS ON BEACHES ORDINANCES COMPARE TO OTHER NORTH SHORE COMMUNITIES

LIST OF ARTICLES AND LINKS THAT EXPLAIN HOW DOG DISRUPTIONS HARM PIPING PLOVERS

MORE BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON CHANGES TO THE ANIMAL ORDINANCE REGARDING SAFETY OF THE PIPING PLOVERS NESTING AT GOOD HARBOR BEACH

MASSACHUSETTS PIPING PLOVER CENSUS AND BEACH ORDINANCES REGARDING DOGS

To give readers an idea of how Gloucester compares to other North of Boston beaches provided below is a list of Massachusetts beaches, the number of chicks fledged at each beach, and the dog ordiance.

As you can see, prohibiting dogs on beaches beginning April 1st would bring us in alliance with the majority of Massachusetts coastal communities. If anyone would like the list of all Massachusetts beaches where Piping Plovers are nesting, please feel free to email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com and I will be happy to send you the pdf.

The beaches and information about chicks was found at the Mass Wildlife Massachusetts Piping Plover Census 2017.

NORTH OF BOSTON

Crane Beach, Ipswich: 33 chicks fledged, No Dogs April 1 to Sept 30, on leash off season.

Sandy Point Reservation, Ipswich: 21 chicks fledged, No Dogs allowed at any time.

Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester: 0 chicks fledged, No Dogs May 1 to September 30.

Parker River Wildlife Refuge: 54 chicks fledged, No Dogs allowed at anytime.

Newburyport Town Beach: 5 chicks fledged, Nog dogs May 15 to October 15, On leash all year.

Point of Pines, Revere: 1chick fledged, Private.

Revere Beach: 8 chicks fledged, No Dogs April 1 to September 30.

Winthrop Beach: 6 chicks fledged, No Dogs April 1 to September 30.

Yirrell Beach, Winthrop: 3 chicks fledged, No Dogs April 1 to September 30.

More Background Information on Changes to the Animal Ordinance Regarding the Safety of Piping Plovers Nesting at Good Harbor Beach

January 25, 2019

Gloucester City Council President Paul Lundberg

Cc: Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken

Clerk Joanne Senos

Dear Councilor Lundberg:

The Gloucester Animal Advisory Committee members and the three volunteer Piping Plover monitors present at the AAC meeting January 24th (Deborah Cramer, Heather Hall, and myself) were stunned when city council liaison Jen Holmgren announced that all the councilors had decided, under the direction of yourself and Councilor LeBlanc, against addressing the dog ordinances in regard to the Piping Plovers. The reason given by Jen, amongst several (see second to last paragraph), was because “they (the councilors) have already been dealing with dog ordinances for five years.”

Deeply concerned, I contacted Councilor Memhard the following morning. As a City Councilor, he too was very surprised to learn what was said of him. Councilor Memhard was under the impression, as are we, that we are all working toward a change in the ordinance.

There has been some kind of breakdown in communication in moving forward in our efforts to help the Piping Plovers.

The all-volunteer AAC has done an outstanding job in researching, and in their recommendations, on how better to help these tiny threatened birds that each spring call Good Harbor Beach home.

Mayor Romeo Theken’s administrative office, Mike Hale and the DPW, Chief McCarthy and the Gloucester Police Department, along with Animal Control, plan to provide greater support in the coming months. The members of the Animal Advisory Committee, under the excellent leadership of Alicia Pensarosa, and the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover volunteer monitors are a stellar group of individuals who have worked tirelessly to help our little Piping Plover family.

As a community, I hope we can continue to work together to give the Animal Advisory Committee members and the volunteer monitors all the support needed to ensure we successfully fledge chicks.

All that being said, the greatest threat to the Piping Plovers is the lack of common-sense dog restrictions at Good Harbor Beach during the month of April, coupled with only partial enforcement of the current ordinances during the bird’s nesting season.

During the entire month of April 2018, we observed the nesting pair of Piping Plovers regularly encounter interruptions from dogs off leash running through the nesting area, dogs chasing the birds, and dogs—just being their sweet curious selves—coming up to the PiPl while they were courting, mating, and feeding. Eventually, the pair were completely driven off the beach and forced to nest in the parking lot. The PiPl perceived the parking lot as the safest place because it was early in the season and the parking lot, for the most part, during the off season is a low-traffic area.

The PiPl had made a nest on the beach and would have begun hatching eggs a full ten days to two weeks earlier if they had not been driven off the beach and forced to establish a new territory in the parking lot.

The importance in allowing the birds to nest early cannot be overstated. If our Piping Plovers are allowed to nest early in the season, their chicks could well be on their way to fledging by time the summer tourist season is in full swing.

Piping Plovers have been shown to have tremendous fidelity to their chosen nesting site. There is one male documented who for fifteen springs nested at nearly the exact same location, arriving on exactly April 13th each year.

Additionally, a statement was made by Councilor Holmgren at the AAC meeting that she personally felt that dog owners who had not broken the rules should not be “punished” by changing the ordinance to disallow dogs from the beach beginning April 1st. This misses the point entirely. No one in any way shape or form is trying to “punish” fellow dog owners. It has been documented on Good Harbor Beach, as well as in numerous studies, that simple, normal dog behaviors negatively impact the nesting and feeding of innumerable species of shorebirds, not just the threatened and endangered Piping Plovers.

Out of a total of eleven Piping Plover chicks hatched at Good Harbor Beach since 2016, only one has survived. I think as a community we can do much, much better than this, but we need everyone working together, with the proper ordinances in place, to help the AAC and Piping Plover monitors do their work.

Thank you so very much for your time.

Sincerely,

Kim Smith

List of Articles and Links Provided That Explain How Dog Disruptions on Beaches Harm Piping Plovers

Bird Friendly Beaches: Evaluating dog and human interactions with Great Lakes piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) and other shorebirds: 

https://conservancy.umn.edu/bitstream/handle/11299/185071/Rutter_umn_0130M_17785.pdf?sequence=1

Death of Piping Plover Serves as Reminder to Keep Dogs on Leash:

https://www.maineaudubon.org/news/death-of-piping-plover-serves-as-reminder-to-keep-dogs-on-leash/

8 Ways to Help Piping Plovers:

http://ct.audubon.org/news/8-ways-help-piping-plovers

Scarborough faces $12,000 fine after dog kills plover

https://www.pressherald.com/2013/09/11/feds-fine-scarborough-for-plover-death/

Atlantic Coast Piping Plover Strategic Communications Plan Reducing Human Disturbance

https://www.fws.gov/northeast/pipingplover/pdf/Communications_Plan_for_Reducing_Human_Disturbance_to_Atlantic_Coast_Piping_Plovers.pdf

Sleeping Bear Dunes: Piping plover apparently killed by dog

https://upnorthlive.com/news/local/sleeping-bear-dunes-officials-piping-plover-apparently-killed-by-dog

Humans disturb piping plovers on nonbreeding grounds

 http://wildlife.org/humans-disturb-piping-plovers-on-nonbreeding-grounds/