We returned last night from Ohio where we were celebrating Memorial Day and my father-in-law, Cornelius Hauck’s, 98th birthday. He is the most charming and kindest person; funny, witty, wry, full of wonderful stories, brilliant, and generous are just a few of the adjectives that describe him. I am writing this to you because he shared several secrets to his longevity. Stay active mentally and physically (PT every morning and walking every day) and a cold shower every morning! That last part was news to all of us 🙂 He didn’t mention this, but I am adding that he only retired when he was about 85 years old! He also eats well-balanced meals and has a bourbon (or two) everyday. We all just wish he didn’t live so far from Gloucester.
Grandpa shared a story about his service in WWII. When he first enlisted, he was rejected because he is well over six feet tall, but only weighed 140 pounds. As the War progressed and the Army needed more troops, they allowed him to serve but not in the usual capacity. He has had a lifelong interest in trains and because he was familiar with all the train lines running across the country, he was put in charge of scheduling soldiers traveling on leave.
My father-in-laws’ interest in trains only grew over the years and in his spare time, he went on to write and publish many photographs, books, and articles about trains, and to co-found the Colorado Railroad Museum, located in Golden, Colorado.
PiPl update –
This morning found Mom peacefully guarding her eggs on the nest and Dad foraging along the water’s edge. I was there early and the DPW hadn’t yet been to clean up the beach. We are so grateful to the DPW for the job that they do, but the crew would not have to be stuck with so much litter/trash/garbage if we enforced our litter laws. Also, dismayed to see remnants of several bonfires. I didn’t make it all the way down the beach; it’s lovely out now but this morning was very windy.
Joyful update to share – Super Dad and Handicapped Mom have done it again!! We have a nest! Our Super Couple has been nesting at GHB since 2016, making this their 8th nest in 8 years. We are so blessed to have this valiant, beautiful little pair of PiPls that call GHB their home <3
Nesting is going more slowly at other areas of the beach. We are consistently seeing 3 males duking it out, from one end of the beach to the opposite end. The females that have stopped at GHB have not stayed long. I think we should keep a strong eye out at Cape Hedge because it is only one beach further north and because one of the females that was briefly at GHB had very pale markings, similar to the female that nested at Cape Hedge.
Based on our Super Couple’s past nesting history, I think we should begin monitoring the Plovers full time on Friday, June 2nd. Please send your preferred times and we’ll make up a schedule. I haven’t heard back yet from Mass Audubon about their schedule but during the meeting, we mentioned to Lyra that we would prefer mornings, afternoons, and early evenings, not mid-day, which seems as though it will work perfectly with the times Mass Audubon field agents are on the beach. I look forward to hearing from you regarding scheduling.
I am very behind in updates and apologize for that! My butterfly and native plants ABC garden for the elementary kids at Phillips Academy campus in Andover needed much attention after a period of neglect due to Covid. This past week, we had a team of FORTY EIGHT volunteers from Liberty Mutual come and help clean up the campus and dig new beds. They were beyond unbelievable. This is a program offered by Liberty Mutual to help nonprofits. Even the CEO was there pitching in, working just as hard as everyone else, digging and carting away wheelbarrows of soil. It was a whirlwind cleanup, amazing, and I am still reeling from the amount of work they accomplished.
This fantastic illustration was shared by our dedicated and long-time PiPl Ambassador Jill Ortiz.
Plastics and the Plight of the Piping Plover
“This submission is a photograph of a poster sized piece of artwork created by students from Hanscom Primary School on Hanscom Air Force Base.
Students learned about the piping plover and the impact of plastics on shore and marine life. Students drew the bird, nest and eggs. They used plastics that were to be trashed and repurposed them to create this collage. Every student then made a shell to add to the creation.”
Happy Mother’s Day to all our PiPl Friends that are Moms! xoxo Kim
P.S. Did you know that we have Water Snakes at nearly every body of water on Cape Ann and throughout Massachusetts? I did not, but became interested in learning more after seeing several while working on my pond film. May is an amazing time of year for wildlife in New England! Scroll through to see just some of the wildlife happenings taking place right here in our midst – – https://kimsmithdesigns.com/
FIVE PiPls are currently on the scene! The additional two appeared Wednesday morning, as shared by ACOfficers Teagan and Jamie. I located all five yesterday afternoon. It was cold and very windy and all (except our freewheeling scruffy male), were huddled behind clumps of seaweed, on the opposite side of the incoming wind. The two newest arrivals are definitely one male, but I couldn’t tell conclusively if the other was a very light male or a dark female. (I hope so much he/she is a female!).Super Mom flanked by Super Dad (left) and newly arrived PiPl, either female or male?
At first I only spotted four but then I heard a sharp peep. I thought that’s weird, the four are quietly resting, and it sounded like the peep was from behind. Where did it come from? Must be the wind playing tricks with my hearing. A few minutes later I got up to leave, and the fifth one was resting in the sand about four feet away!
We’re heading into peak spring migration so stay tuned!
Male arrived overnight
I have been chatting with the Mass Audubon field agents in the morning and am just so inspired by these young earnest biologists, so eager to help and make an impactful difference. They are much like the field agents that I meet at DCR beaches, really kind people. I am looking forward to our Ambassadors and beachgoers meeting the Mass Audubon group!
Recently I attended a virtual meeting for the NYCity volunteer Plover ambassadors. It’s fascinating to learn how other urban beaches manage their PiPl populations, both the positive and the negative aspects. They encounter nearly the exact same responses and issues as do we. Ninety percent of their encounters are positive and people love the birds. They have the same negatives as well – namely dogs and people running through the nesting areas and dunes.
We had a wonderful turnout for the GHB Earth Day clean-up event. With thanks and gratitude to Reverend Sue from the Annisquam Village Church and Rory McCarthy from Clean the Creek for organizing the event. Thank you so very much to everyone who lent a hand!!
Enjoy the sun while it’s shining!
Our perpetually scruffy-looking, as of yet, unattached, male
Female of male? Leaning toward female as Super Dad allowed her to rest quietly in close proximity to Super Mom, without chasing her/him away
Despite the wind and chilly temperatures, this morning a wonderful multi-generational group of dedicated Earth-stewards met at GHB to clean the beach and to celebrate our beautiful Earth in kind thoughts and prayers. The clean-up was organized by Reverend Sue from the Annisquam Village Church and sponsored by the Cape Ann Climate Coalition Interfaith Group, Clean the Creek, The AVC Creation Care Team, and the Plover Ambassadors.
Thank you to Everyone who attended and for your deep love of Good Harbor Beach. Captioned where possible
Reverend Sue in the red coat
Rory McCarthy (left) grassroots Clean the Creek organizer
Three Generations of Sibley Earth Stewards
399 cigarette butts found in one small stretch of Nautilus Road
Please join us tomorrow, Saturday, at 9am at Good Harbor Beach <3
Reflections on Earth Day from Town Green founder Dick Prouty
When we started TownGreen in 2015, the level of understanding of the threat of climate change was not widespread. Yes, TownGreen had some good Sustainability Fairs with large attendance, and we had a nice solarize campaign in 2017-2018 with well over 100 roof installations at discounted prices. But was there a general awareness that our very existence on the coast was threatened by sea level rise, extreme heat, and more severe climate threats? Not really.
Now, eight short years later, the tide of public opinion is quickly changing. I am heartened by the rapid growth of support for climate action. TownGreen’s community education programs, informed by the valuable research from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, brings climate change home to our local neighborhoods and beloved icons of Cape Ann, such as Good Harbor Beach. Our programs are resulting in a heightened community awareness of climate impacts and increasing threats to our region. The challenge now is to identify and implement mitigation and adaptation strategies as best we can.
I am thankful for the large numbers of people who have made a difference by supporting TownGreen. There are literally hundreds of you who have contributed to our annual fund, who regularly attend TownGreen webinars and in-person events, and lend your hearts and minds to concrete climate action. Thank you. There is no greater mission than being in this climate fight to save our Cape Ann community for future generations. We are grateful to be working alongside such a wonderful group of friends.
All the best on Earth Day 2023!
Dick Prouty, Chair, TownGreen Board of Directors
Lots of folks are asking, “how does Piping Plover Super Mom manage with her missing foot?” She has adapted beautifully however, you can see from these short clips, that it takes much more effort to get around.
If you see Plovers on the beach know that one may be Super Mom. Plovers need minimal disruption as they are becoming established at their nesting sites and Super Mom even more so.
Thank you for giving the Plovers all the space that they need!
In the summer of 2021, one of the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover’s foot became entangled in dried seaweed and monofilament. Over the winter she lost all the toes on her right foot. She returned to GHB in 2022. Piping Plover Super Mom has adapted in how she walks, runs, forages, preens, and even in how she mates. Over the summer of 2022 she and her long time partner, Super Dad, successfully raised four chicks to fledge. She has again returned to her nesting site in the spring of 2023. She is healthy, foraging well, and nest scraping with her mate!
We’d like to send a heartfelt thank you to the Gloucester Daily Times staff writer Ethan Forman and editor-in-chief Andrea Holbrook for writing about our Good Harbor Beach Plovers. We friends of Cape Ann Plovers appreciate so much your thoughtful writing and taking the time to get the story straight!
Mass Audubon to help protect threatened plovers
By Ethan Forman
The sighting of the one-footed piping plover Super Mom, and others like her on Good Harbor Beach during the last week in March, coincides with human activity there meant to help preserve and protect coastal shorebirds during the busy summer beach season.
That includes the installation of symbolic fencing made up of metal posts and yellow rope around the dunes with signs letting beachgoers know the “Restricted Area” is “a natural breeding ground for piping plovers.”
“These rare birds, their nests and eggs are protected under Massachusetts and federal laws,” the signs read.
The nation’s oldest seaport is taking extra steps this year to monitor and minimize disturbances to Super Mom and others of her threatened species of small, stocky migratory birds that have made the popular beach their summer home in recent years.
On Monday, the city announced it had entered into an agreement with Mass Audubon to help with the monitoring and management of coastal nesting birds, including piping plovers, on the city’s public beaches, according to a press release.
Reverend Sue from the Annisquam Village Church writes
The Cape Ann Climate Coalition Interfaith group is hosting our 2nd Annual Earth Day event on Saturday, April 22nd at 9 a.m. We will begin with a beach clean-up and then gather at 9:30 for an interfaith ritual. The event is being co-sponsored by the AVC Creation Care Team, Clean the Creek and the Piping Plover Ambassadors. A flyer is attached. If you would like to help lead the event, please let me know.
We don’t often hear good news about environmental issues. I just wanted to share this bit of upbeat progress at Good Harbor Beach. While looking for PiPl tracks yesterday morning, I noticed a huge new patch of American Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata) growing at the base of the dunes.
About five years ago (will have to check the exact date), and upon the recommendation of Essex County Greenbelt’s director of land stewardship, Dave Rimmer, the City bumped out the dune fencing that runs the length of the beach by exactly 12 feet. Rather than use the slatted fencing, the area was symbolically roped off. This was done after several years of devastating back-to-back storms that had destroyed huge portions of the dunes. The objective was to help restore the dunes.
Because a newly expanded area was symbolically roped off, foot traffic in the dunes was decreased. It doesn’t prevent people and pets from altogether staying out of the dunes but it has lessened foot traffic at the base of the dunes.
Last year, the Plovers symbolically roped off areas stayed up a little bit longer than usual because of our handicapped family. The net result of these actions is that dune grass is filling in and growing in areas where we haven’t seen vegetation in many, many years!!! Why is this so vitally important? Established vegetation leads to bigger, healthier dunes and helps to mitigate erosion from climate change.
Click on the photo below to embiggen and you can see the Plovers symbolically roped off area, the old dune fencing, the more recently roped off dune restoration area, and the area between where the beach grass is now filling in!
Compare to the photos below where you can see the very vulnerable corner of the dune edge by the Creek. The extra 12 foot bump out has not been maintained at this corner and this area is not roped off for the Plovers. Notice how ragged is the edge of the dune and the dramatic increase in erosion that has taken place when compared to the first photo.
In the first photo, you can see the old dune fencing posts are nearly buried by sand because that area of the dunes is being naturally replenished with sand. In the photos below, the same exact posts that were installed at the same exact height are fully exposed by approximately four feet. People sit and recreate right up to the edge of the old fencing in this location.
Only old dune fencing remains at the corner by the Creek
It’s great to compare how, with only modest effort, we can help protect our shores from the threat of climate change. Have a super day!
A friendly reminder that after March 31st, pets are not permitted at Good Harbor Beach until after September 30th. Thank you!
At this time each year, we receive many reports of, and are sent photos of, dog owners not adhering to the seasonal change in policy regarding pets on the beach. If you see a dog on the beach, the best way to help is to please take a photo and call the Gloucester PD Animal Control phone line at 978-281-9746. If no one answers, please leave a message with the time and location.
We are hoping the no pets sign at the Salt Island end of the beach will be installed soon and that the flashing sign will again be put to good use. Our Animal Control Officers Jamie and Teagan work very hard patrolling the beach and chasing after scofflaws, but they can’t be there 24/7. For the common good of the community, it’s up to us as individuals to follow the signage and respect wildlife that makes their home on the beach.
Every community in Massachusetts that is home to nesting shorebirds has both a legal and principled obligation to share the share with wildlife. To say nothing of the joy to be found in helping vulnerable and endangered creatures. Please try to understand that if dog owners continue to bring their dogs to the beach and the City does not enforce the pet ordinance, Good Harbor (and any beach) is at risk of shutting down for the summer. NO ONE WANTS THAT. The City and we Ambassadors work very hard to be in compliance with Massachusetts and Federal regulations to protect nesting shorebirds and other wildlife. Saving the Beaches Equals Protecting our Plovers!
Equally as important as following pet ordinances, please give the birds lots and lots of space. Enjoy that they are here, take a few photos from a distance, and then move on and allow them to do their thing. At this time of year, they are fortifying after the long migration and resting up so they can begin courting, mating, and become excellent parents to their highly energetic and rambunctious chicks.
Please help spread the word about Cape Ann Plovers. If you see a Piping Plover at one of our beautiful Cape Ann beaches, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment in the comment section, or let one of our other Ambassadors know.
For more information and answers to frequently asked questions, which also provides several reasons as to why its so important that pets are off the beach by April first, please go here: The Piping Plover Project
If you would like to join our Piping Plover Ambassador program, please email Kim Smith at email@example.com or leave a comment and I will get back to you.
Yesterday I had planned and written this post to be about the Good Harbor Beach and Cape Hedge Plover signs and symbolically roped off area installations but the grand news is that our first pair of PiPls arrived overnight!!
They are worn out from the long migration. The pair spent the morning sheltering behind mini hummocks, out of the way of the cold biting wind, and warming in the morning sun. If you see them on the beach please give them lots and lots of space. They are travel-weary and need to rest up. Thank you!
Thank you to Good Harbor Beach daily walkers and super Plover friends Pat and Dolores, and to my husband Tom, for being the first to spot the 2023 GHB Plovers!
We’d like to thank Mark Cole and the DPW Crew for installing the symbolically roped off areas ahead of April 1st. And for also reinstalling the pet rules sign at the footbridge. We are so appreciative of their kind assistance.
We’d also like to thank Plover Ambassador Eric Hutchins, who made the barrels to hold signs and installed all yesterday at Cape Hedge Beach. The barrels were Eric’s idea and I think it’s a fantastic solution for the deeply poppled beach scape.
If you would like to join our Piping Plover Ambassador Team, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment in the comment section and I will get back to you. Thank you!
Very Happy News to share – yesterday at GHB I spotted a little smattering of PiPl tracks. I could not locate any Plovers, but the beach has been very busy with dogs and they may just be lying low. Their arrival is right on schedule. The past several years the first sightings have been on the 25th and 26th.
Piping Plover tracks, Good Harbor Beach, March 27, 2023
If anyone is concerned as to why the dog regulations are not yet posted at the footbridge, it is because the old sign and posts were damaged during a winter storm. The DPW is building a new one, the second coat of paint is going on tomorrow, and signs should be posted by the 30th. Keeping our fingers crossed that they do go up before the 31st! The symbolically roped off areas have not yet been installed. Last year this was done prior to April 1st, so we are very much hoping that this job is on DPW’s agenda for this week as well.
Signage really helps more than many people fully understand. Yesterday was an on-leash day however, there are currently no signs at the footbridge end. At this time of year, the footbridge side of GHB is the main access point to the beach as the parking lot is still closed. I only ever take Charlotte to the beach on on-leash days because although dogs off-leash are supposed to be under voice command, that is simply not the case at any public space in Gloucester where dogs are allowed off-leash. In the forty-five minute time frame that Charlotte and I were there, 14 dogs were on the beach, two on-leash, the other 12 were not on-leash. I thought we were safe as we were up by the dunes looking for tracks while all the dogs were down by the water’s edge. We did not hear the German Shepherd approaching. The dog knocked Charlotte over and left her in hysterics. The owners did nothing to control their dog as it came back around a second time, only shouting that their dog was “friendly.” We walked back to the car through the parking lot as it was the least threatening choice. Charlotte is not prone to hysterics but when you are only three and a half feet tall and an animal twice your size knocks you down, well it just made us both feel terrible. Me, because I let it happen and her because she was so frightened. I don’t want my granddaughter to grow up feeling so terribly afraid of large dogs.
Back to good news – On Boston’s North Shore, Plovers have been spotted at Crane, Plum Island, and Winthrop Beaches. Our Cape Ann Plover Ambassadors are ready for a super summer of Plover monitoring. Rockport has a new conservation agent, John Lopez who, coincidentally, did his thesis on how off road vehicles impact Plovers. Gloucester City Councilors Scott Memhard and Jeff Worthley have been working with the ambassadors this winter on creating Plover awareness and also working with the Clean the Creek grassroots organization to get to the bottom of the Creek contamination. We have many new Ambassadors and are looking forward to meeting them all at our first informational meeting, which will take place when the Plovers are more settled in. If you would like to be a Piping Plover Ambassador this summer, please contact me at email@example.com or leave a comment in the comment section. We would love to have you!
What a joy to catch a brief glimpse of this beautiful Black-crowned Night Heron. At this time of year, BCNHs undergo a pre-nuptial molt and the plumage of he/she was stunningly pristine. Both male and female have the long-ribbon-like two feather plumes at the back of the crown. It’s pinkish legs (usually yellow or gray) also tell us he/she is ready for the upcoming breeding season. After taking a few sips of water and a dramatic floofing, the heron headed back over the water toward the open ocean. Safe travels, little migrant!
Day 8 of Covid and still feeling crummy. Short walks and drives are the highlights of the day. So thankful to my husband. There isn’t anyone I would rather be isolated for ten days with than he. Tom has zero symptoms but is extremely patient with mine, and also buying me lots of bubble water, Kleenex, and any other thing that this strange virus sends a need for. Thank you to all my dear friends for all your get well wishes and suggestions. I am so appreciative of your kind thoughts. xoxo
1. Our mission and how we can work together to resolve the problem with the city
2. Governing and decision making structure
3. Committee involvement…ribbed mussels, citizen science, data, beach walk through, press etc.
4. Public Outreach
5. Health data collection…if you have gotten sick please, please, please fill out the form – it is super important
6. Goals for the next 3-6 months
7. Plans of action: emails, signs, grants/funding, etc
8. What are we missing? Please let us know if you think we need to address something
It is super important that we all work together, get the word out, and empower each other by sharing our ideas and experiences. We need to work with the city to better understand the problem in order to provide solutions.
Bacteria levels (fecal matter) at the Good Harbor Beach Creek are unacceptably high, actually at astoundingly high levels. This is not just a summertime/warm weather issue any longer. Please come to the meeting to learn about how we can all help, short and long term plans to mitigate the issue, how development is impacting the bacteria levels, the wide ranging area from where the bacteria is being emitted (it’s not just “one broken pipe”), and plans to seed Mussels at the Creek.
Rory from Clean the Creek shares information on the upcoming meeting:
Hope everyone is doing well. Christian has kindly opened up Surfari for another hybrid meeting for Clean The Creek next Thursday, March 16, at 6:30pm. There will be a zoom link sent out next week for those that can not make it in person. Hope to see everyone soon!
We are moving ahead and gaining traction. With that said, here is a list of committees that are available to join, including an e-board. If you would like to start your own committee, please reach out and we will incorporate it!
Committee options: community outreach (going to local residents, restaurants, and places like the blue shutters), Graphic design that can create a flyer/yard sign, posting flyers around the city, working with the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Board (organizations that support Gloucester and its economy), citizen science – finding ways to test the water and maybe partner with a local university/organization, and a group to work on finding grants/working with our local congressmen to find funding.
Next week we will discuss our next steps, continuing public outreach, setting a date for a low tide creek walk through and beach cleanup, finding economic data related to GHB, citizen science opportunities, grants/federal fund updates, and any other information that you want to share. Your experience and opinion is important and we want to hear it!
For those that have gotten sick from swimming or surfing in and around the Creek, we need your help. It has been recommended to collect the details of everyone that has gotten sick in a more formal way. We would greatly appreciate it if you could fill out a form. We will compare the dates of your illness to water data. This form can be anonymous and you will be listed as “anonymous stakeholder”.
Cheery news to share from PiPl Ambassador Deb- Friday, March 3rd, a Piping Plover was spotted at beautiful West Dennis Beach, on Cape Cod! It won’t be long 🙂
Thank you so very much to Jonathan and Sally for hosting the PiPl meeting and for organizing and compiling the notes. There’s a great deal to tackle here, but we’ll work away at the list. And many thanks to Jeff for sending the beach regulations, which are also attached. Additionally, Jayne Knot sent along the data from the contaminated Creek reports – very interesting read. I’ve been in touch with Rory McCarthy, who is heading up the Clean the Creek initiative and hope to speak with her this week to see how we can help. She shares lots of great information on her Instagram page at clean_the_creek.
PiPls in a windy March snowstorm several years ago
We’re glad you stopped by to learn more about Piping Plovers! The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about nesting Plovers. If you don’t find an answer to your question here, please write in the comments and let us know. The question you have, others may have as well. Thank you!
Do Plovers really start walking as soon as they hatch?
Yes! Plovers are precocial birds. That is a term biologists use to describe a baby bird’s stage of development at birth. Unlike songbirds, which generally hatch helpless, naked, and blind, Plovers hatch with downy soft feathers and are fully mobile. They can run, peck, and are learning to forage within a few hours after hatching. The one thing they can’t do is regulate their body temperature. Plover chicks feed in short intervals, then run to snuggle beneath Mom or Dad’s warm underwings.
Do they have predators? What is their greatest threat?
Plover chicks are vulnerable to a great number of predators including Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, American Crows, Peregrine Falcons, Eastern Coyotes, Red Foxes, and Gray Foxes. The greatest threat to Plovers is when dogs are allowed to run freely through the nesting area, which causes the adults to chase the dogs, which leaves the eggs and chicks vulnerable to avian predators. The second greatest threat to Plovers is the garbage left behind by beachgoers, which attracts crows and gulls, both of which eat chicks and eggs.
How many generally survive?
On average, only 1.3 chicks survive per nesting pair. Most chicks are lost within the first two days.
How long does it take a Plover chick to learn to fly?
By the time a Plover is about 25 days old, it can take very brief test flights. At about 35 days, or five weeks, a Plover is considered fully fledged.
Where do they migrate to when they leave their northern breeding grounds?
We know from Plover banding programs conducted at the University of Rhode Island that the majority of Massachusetts Piping Plovers fly non-stop to the outer banks of North Carolina. Here they will stage for about a month. After fattening up for the next leg of their journey, many Plovers from the north Atlantic region migrate to the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the Turks and Caicos.
During this staging period, Plovers also undergo a molt, where they lose their old tired feathers and grow new fresh feathers.
Just as Piping Plovers are site faithful to their breeding grounds, so too are they are site faithful to their winter homes.
Do they come back to the same nest site every year?
Remarkably, many mated pairs do return to the very same nesting site. Piping Plovers show tremendous fidelity to each other and to their nesting site. Even though they may winter-over in different locations, Piping Plover pairs may return to their breeding grounds within days of each other, and sometimes on the very same day. The chicks will most likely not return to the precise location of their birth, but may return to the same region.
Why are the areas on the beach roped off .
Plovers need a safe haven from dogs and people when they are nesting, especially on busy beach days. Even after the nestlings have hatched and are running on the beach, the Plovers know that it is generally safe from disturbance within the symbolically protected area. The roped off areas also allows beach vegetation to regrow, which provides shelter and food for the chicks and adults. The new growth helps fortify the dunes against future storm damage and rising sea level.
Why don’t Plovers nest in the dunes.
Plovers generally do not nest in the dunes, but in the sand, precisely where beachgoers enjoy sitting. Plovers evolved to nest in sand. For one reason in particular, their eggs are very well camouflaged in sand, so well camouflaged in fact that is is easy for people and pets to accidentally step on them. Prior to the mid-1900s, beaches were not as widely used as the recreational areas they have become today. There was far less interaction with humans. Nesting in dunes poses an even less safe set of challenges, including predation of their eggs by mammals and rodents.
What’s the story with the local organization that is advocating to harm, eat, and/or kill Piping Plovers?
Piping Plovers are listed as a federal and state protected endangered and threatened bird species. Threatened species are afforded the same exact protections as are endangered species. It is illegal to eat, kill, harm, or harass Plovers in any way, and punishable by fines in the tens of thousands of dollars. If humans intentionally create an untenable situation for nesting birds, a beach may become closed for the season
Plovers are very small, only slightly larger than a sparrow, with unfortunately, a history of harassment that in some cases, has led to death. It’s amazing that such a tender tiny bird can elicit the worst behavior in some humans while also evoking the best in people who recognize their vulnerability.
Fortunately for the Plovers, conservation groups, volunteers, and an ever increasingly aware beach-going population of educated and kind hearted citizens are working toward helping folks better understand that by sharing the shore, we not only allow for our own enjoyment by keeping the beach open to the public, we are protecting and promoting the continuation of a species.
Can’t we just capture the Plovers and take them to a less trafficked beach, or build the birds a nest in a tree?
Plovers do not nest in trees. If the Plovers were removed from the beach, they would very likely return. Plovers will rebuild a nest up to five time during a single season. With continual disturbance to the birds, the end result would be no eggs and no chicks. The purpose of the Endangered Species Act and shorebird conservation programs is to rebuild the population to return the Plovers to safe numbers where we know the species will survive.
Do volunteers come every day?
Yes, PiPl Ambassadors are on the beach everyday, seven days a week, from sunrise until sunset. If you would like to be a Piping Plover volunteers, please contact Kim Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment.
Looking out the window at snow covered scapes, it’s hard to imagine that in just about a month little feathered friends will be arriving at our local beaches. For the past several years our original Piping Plover pair at #3 have arrived on March 25th. It’s very possible they may have flown directly from their wintering sites, hundreds of miles, if not over a thousand (we know this from banding programs at URI). The pair are usually weary and in need of quiet rest, at least for the first several days… then comes the business of courting and establishing a nest. I am so hopeful our handicapped Mom will be returning for a second summer after losing her foot. It’s unlikely we will see HipHop, not because he wasn’t strong enough to return, but because offspring don’t usually return to their exact birth location. We may see HipHop though at area beaches.
As usual, we will be providing Plover updates in emails, on our new website, Facebook, and Instagram. We are so appreciative of the Gloucester Daily Times’s Andrea Holbrook and Ethan Forman for their recent article highlighting the upcoming Plover season and helping to get the word out about our Ambassador program!
Welcome to our new friends and possible volunteers, George, Meah, Susan, Leslie, and Terry! Thank you so much for offering to volunteer and/or support us in other ways through getting the word out about our Ambassador program.
At our recent Plover organizational meeting, hosted by Jonathan and Sally, we decided our areas of focus are: Safety, Education, Volunteers, and City Support (thank you for organizing the topics Sally!) Jonathan added April/May strategies, which as we seasoned volunteers know, poses a different set of challenges. City Councilor Jeff Worthley was in attendance, and it was a huge help to have someone who can provide insights into what can be accomplished through working with the City. Jeff shared that in the 90s he worked at Good Harbor Beach for five summers and he was also the chairperson of Beach Parking and Traffic Committee that brought us the advance ticket reservation system, so he also has great historical perspective on the ongoing issues at GHB.
The Creek is still closed due to storm/sewage runoff and it appears the City is no closer to determining the exact source. The fecal matter levels are 14,000 times what is acceptable. This may not seem like a Plover matter (so far, it does not appear to affect their well-being) but it often falls upon the Ambassadors to let people know how unsafe it is to swim there. The high levels are frequently reported on in the GDTimes, but if the City posted the actual levels on the signs at the beach, people might not be so quick to dismiss the warnings. We also discussed that it is probably not safe for swimmers at the mouth of the Creek either as a bunch of surfers that were recently surfing there are reportedly ill. We’d like to thank Councilors Scott Memhard and Jeff Worthley for addressing the contamination at the Creek issue, including walking the beach to let people know, and ensuring the warning signs are in place.
Here is a link to our new website – The Piping Plover Project. Many thanks to PiPl Ambassadors Paula and Alexa for sending along their most frequently asked questions, it was super helpful in putting the list together (link to FAQs). Please let me know if you have any FAQs you would like added to the list.
We have received outstanding news from our Massachusetts Coastal Waterbird Biologist, Carolyn Mostello. She shared the “Summary of the 2022 Massachusetts Piping Plover Census.” The grand total for Massachusetts breeding pairs of Plovers is a whopping 1033, up 6.8 percent relative to 2021. A total of 1,330 chicks was reported fledged for an overall productivity of 1.31 fledglings per pair.
The summary is prepared each year by the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, a division of Mass Wildlife. The Summary is in pdf form and I am happy to email anyone the report if you are interested. Please leave a comment in the comment section and your email will pop up on my end. Thank you for your interest!
The following are some highlights from the Summary –
This report summarizes data on abundance, distribution, and reproductive success of Piping Plovers (Charadrius melodus) in Massachusetts during the 2022 breeding season. Observers reported breeding pairs of Piping Plovers present at 209 sites; 150 additional sites were surveyed at least once, but no breeding pairs were detected at them. The population increased 6.8% relative to 2021. The Index Count (statewide census conducted 1-9 June) was 1,013 pairs, and the Adjusted Total Count (estimated total number of breeding pairs statewide for the entire 2022 breeding season) was 1,033 pairs. A total of 1,330 chicks was reported fledged in 2022, for an overall productivity of 1.31 fledglings per pair, based on data from 98.6% of pairs.
Piping Plovers are small, sand-colored shorebirds that nest on sandy beaches and dunes along the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to Newfoundland. The U.S. Atlantic Coast population of Piping Plovers has been federally listed as Threatened, pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act, since 1986. The species is also listed as Threatened by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife pursuant to the Massachusetts’ Endangered Species Act.
Population monitoring is an integral part of recovery efforts for Atlantic Coast Piping Plovers (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1996, Hecht and Melvin 2009a, b). It allows wildlife managers to identify limiting factors, assess effects of management actions and regulatory protection, and track progress toward recovery. In this report, we summarize data on abundance, distribution, and reproductive success of Piping Plovers breeding in Massachusetts in 2022, as observed and reported by a coast-wide network of cooperators.
Monitoring and management of Piping Plovers and other coastal waterbirds in Massachusetts is carried out by wildlife biologists, seasonal shorebird monitors, beach managers, researchers, and volunteers affiliated with over 20 federal and state agencies, local municipalities, local and regional land trusts, private conservation organizations, and universities. Cooperators monitored 359 sites in Massachusetts in 2022 for the presence of breeding Piping Plovers.
* * *
Long term trends in breeding Piping Plover population size and productivity are shown in Figure 5. The five-year running average of productivity has declined overall since 1995; however, there is a noticeable increase since reaching a low point in 2013. Since 2018, the five-year average of productivity has been above the approximately 1.2 fledglings per pair thought to be necessary to maintain a stable population (Melvin & Gibbs 1996) 2, and the breeding population has increased dramatically over that period. In fact, since state-wide monitoring began, this is the first year where the estimated number of territorial pairs has exceeded 1,000 in the state of Massachusetts, far exceeding the goal of 625 pairs throughout New England identified in the Piping Plover Atlantic Coast Population Recovery Plan. Although the New England Piping Plover population has exceeded the population recovery goal, that is not the case for other regions along the Atlantic Coast.
A Gloucester group is seeking volunteers to help look after the piping plovers when they nest at Good Harbor Beach, and setting up a website, pipingploverproject.org, offering information on the birds.
“We have received a number of inquiries regarding the upcoming plover season,” said Gloucester resident and Piping Plover Ambassador Kim Smith of the website. “And we wanted to have a page ready where people could find sign up information.”
“I envision this site as a place where we can not only get information, updates, and stories about our Cape Ann plover families, but to also learn more about plovers in general, other shorebirds, habitat conservation, and how climate change is impacting all,” said Smith in an email.
Our new website, The Piping Plover Project, is under construction nonetheless, I wanted to get it up and running. We’ve received a number of inquiries regarding the upcoming Plover season (just around the corner if you can believe it!) and we wanted to have a page ready where people could find sign up information.
I envision this site as a place where we can not only get information, updates, and stories about our Cape Ann Plover families, but to also learn more about Plovers in general, other shorebirds, habitat conservation, and how climate change is impacting all. If you come across a story or article you would like to see posted here, please forward along. Or if you have a story of your own you would like to share, please, by all means we would love to read it. If you would like to follow this site, move your cursor in the lower right corner and a “follow” box should appear.
Still to come is the FAQs page, which you can help me write if you would like. If an Ambassador is reading this, please let me know what questions you are frequently asked. If a PiPl Friend, please write if you have a question you would like answered. Thank you!
More about becoming a Piping Plover Ambassador
What are the responsibilities of a Plover Ambassador? Plover management is as much about people management as it is about caring for the Plovers. We believe we play an important role in not only representing the Plovers, but it is equally as important to represent Gloucester and Rockport in a positive light. We are there to answer questions, share information, point out the location of the Plovers to interested beachgoers, and direct foot traffic away from the chicks when they are on the beach foraging and resting. Many of our Ambassadors even share their binoculars to better help visitors enjoy watching the chicks.
We begin watching over the chicks on their first day, the day they hatch. The shifts are roughly an hour long, everyday, for about five weeks. We provide coverage from sunrise until sunset. Each person signs up for a specific time ie., 7 to 8, 8 to 9, etc. Several of our Ambassadors like to share their shift with a friend and switching your times around with a fellow Ambassador is okay, too.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about becoming a Piping Plover Ambassador, please contact Kim Smith at email@example.com or leave a comment in the comment section
We are also planning to link this site to a QR code to help folks on the beach who are curious and want to learn more about Cape Ann Plovers.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to being in touch during this upcoming season of Piping Plover chronicles.
A very fortunate sighting for me as I am traveling around the region filming predators for several film projects – a stunning Peregrine Falcon perched on an electric pole while devouring prey.
The Peregrine Falcon is a tremendous conservation success story however, species recovery can produce tradeoffs and conflicts. Peregrine Falcons prey upon Least Tern and Piping Plover chicks. The Falcon’s behavior is a source of concern for shorebird monitors nationwide, but is it a major conservation concern? Not really, although occasionally, Peregrine Falcons are relocated away from shorebird nesting areas.
What I didn’t realize at the time of filming is that the falcon was wearing leg bands and in one of the still photos you can clearly see the code 07/CB. This tells the falcon’s amazing origins. Falcon 07/CB hatched in 2020 and was one of three male chicks banded at the Gillis Memorial Bridge in Newburyport. His siblings are 06/CB and 08/CB. What’s even more amazing is that his origins can be traced back several generations. Chris Martin, the Conservation Biologist for New Hampshire Audubon shares the following: The chick’s pop is 17/BD, who was banded as a chick in Manchester New Hampshire in 2013. His grandpop at Brady Sullivan in Manchester NH was black/green 6/7 who hatched in 2000 at Cathedral Ledge in Bartlett NH. And his grandmom was black/green 02/Z who hatched in 2005 in Worcester MA.
Super cool updated information from Andrew Vitz, our Massachusetts State Ornithologist, and Maureen Murray, Director Tufts Wildlife Center – In 2021, 07/CB crashed into a bird feeder in West Dennis. He was first brought to Wild Care (Eastham) for rehabilitation. 07/CB was given fluids and the wound on his beak was cleaned and bandaged. The following morning he was transferred to Tufts Wildlife Clinic. Maureen shares that 07/CB “had significant trauma to the beak and it took quite a while for the beak to grow back. This bird also had severe trauma to his pectoral muscle on one side. It’s really great to see him looking so healthy!” After recovery, 07/CB was released back to West Dennis by Dave Paulson (then with MassWildlife).
The photo is courtesy Mass DOT, from the falcon’s webcam nest. They are the three chicks from 2020 of which 07/CB is one of the above. Over the years, a number of chicks have successfully fledged from the Gillis Memorial nest. You can read the full story below at one of the links provided .
From MassWildlife – “Before restoration efforts, the last active peregrine falcon nest in the Commonwealth was documented in 1955. Nesting failures were due mostly to the eggshell thinning effects of DDT and similar pesticides. The peregrine falcon was listed as endangered in 1969 under the federal Endangered Species Conservation Act and the use of DDT in the United States was banned in 1972. Peregrine falcon restoration became MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program first restoration project in 1984 and is its longest running project to date. The first successful nesting pair in Massachusetts occurred in 1987 on the Custom House Tower in Boston. The peregrine falcon was removed from the federal list of Endangered and Threatened Species in 1999. In Massachusetts, the peregrine falcon’s status under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) has improved over the decades. In late 2019, due to continued conservation efforts, the bird’s MESA status was improved from threatened to special concern.”
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with good health, captivating wild creatures, peace, love, and happiness. I am thankful for our shared love of wildlife great and small, but most especially for your love of Monarchs, Piping Plovers, and beautiful wild life habitats.
Hip Hop (left) and sibling, tucked under Dad’s warming wings
Jayne Knot from TownGreen conservation group writes,,
Town Green is hosting its second workshop/webinar in the series focusing on the Good Harbor Beach ecosystem: Protecting and Preserving the Good Harbor Beach Ecosystem for Current andFuture Generations. The Good Harbor Beach ecosystem includes Good Harbor Beach, Salt Island, the marsh, and the surrounding connected ecosystem.
The second workshop/webinar, to be held on Wednesday, November 30th from 6:30-8:30pm on Zoom (register here: https://towngreen2025.org/good-harbor-webinars/11-30-2022-webinar), will address climate adaptation approaches and solutions. A Press Release for the event is attached. For those of you who attended the first workshop/webinar, the format for this one will be a little different. We will have presentations on adaptation during the first hour and then a panel discussion with questions and comments from the attendees during the second hour. We hope you can make it.
Event: The second of a three-part workshop/webinar series focusing on the Good Harbor
Beach ecosystem: Protecting and Preserving the Good Harbor Beach Ecosystem for Current
and Future Generations; Adaptation: Is It Possible?
When: Wednesday, November 30th from 6:30-8:30pm on Zoom (register here)
What: A workshop/webinar focusing on adaptation solutions for the Good Harbor Beach
ecosystem with interactive audience participation.
Regarding Save Salt Island, please remember that the Salt Island RDA is on the schedule for the December 21, 2022 Gloucester Conservation Commission meeting. Please mark your calendars.