Dear PiPl Friends,
As many of our PiPl followers are aware, this year the City of Gloucester hired Mass Audubon to help manage Cape Ann’s Plover population. We’ve had our first full week of collaborating with Mass Audubon and I have to say it just could not be better for all involved, but most importantly, for the Piping Plovers! The Mass Audubon staff is tremendously professional, kind, friendly, dedicated to wildlife conservation, and very personable. Lyra, who heads the coastal waterbird program for Mass Audubon, and Devon, Gloucester’s assistant conservation agent both have a great deal of experience managing Piping Plovers and are quick to respond to questions and challenges as they arise.
A few changes have been made to the beach. The roped off Plover areas to protect the Plovers has increased, however, there is still loads of space for beachgoers. An added bonus to creating safe spaces for Plovers is that over time, we have seen how the established protected areas for the Plovers has vastly improved the overall health of the beach. Why is that? Because when people and pets aren’t recreating up against the dunes, new vegetation is allowed to take hold including native American Beach Grass (Ammophila breviligulata), American Sea-rocket (Cakile edentula), Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Beach Pea (Lathyrus japonicus) and Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens). Protecting the dunes is one of the best coastal strategies for combating a warming climate. It’s truly a beautiful thing to see how much healthier are our dunes!
Another change that has taken place are the guidelines in how close we should stand when observing the Plovers. One of the most important ways to help the Plovers is to give them lots and lots of space. If we hover/stand/place camera gear for long periods of time pointing to the Plovers, wildlife biologists working with Mass Audubon have documented that this activity attracts Crows and Gulls! You may ask, “why is that a bad thing?” Crows voraciously eat Plover eggs and hungry seagulls eat Plovers at all stages of development, including eggs, hatchlings, and even 3 week old chicks.
The best way for we beachgoers to help the Plovers is to watch from a distance and not hover near the birds. With a half-way decent lens and a camera sensor with a good crop factor we can get beautiful shots from a safe distance. The City, Mass Audubon, and we Ambassadors are all asking this of the community and we are deeply appreciative of your help.
Piping Plover smackdown – The video is of our handicapped Super Mom. Her disability does not impede her determination nor ability in defending her territory. She is perhaps Good Harbor Beach’s most fierce Plover, despite her missing foot.
Piping Plovers ferociously defend their nesting territory from intruders of every shape and size; puffing up their feathers to appear larger, chasing, and even biting the offender. Here she is in early spring defending her little slice of Good Harbor Beach from Scruffy Boy’s shenanigans!