This morning I found the corner post at Piping Plover area #1 buried in the sand from last night’s high tide. There’s a super nice gentleman, retired Coast Guard officer John Burlingham, who daily walks GHB in the summer. He’s an avid naturalist and always keeps his eyes out for the PiPls. He righted the post and continued on his walk.
As I was leaving GHB, I asked DJ, one of the nice gentlemen working on the water and gas pipes on Salt Island Road, if he happened to have a sledge hammer in his truck box. No, but he had something nearly as good. He whacked the pole into the sand.
Hopefully the poles will stay put but it was great to have such kind hearted caring people at Good Harbor Beach to lend a hand. Thank you John and DJ so very much for your kind assistance!
Great morning at Good Harbor Beach with Dave Rimmer and his intern Mike Galli along with Gloucester’s DPW Joe Lucido installing the wire exclosure at #3. The guys were in an out hammering in the exclosure and after completing, before they had walked thirty feet, Dad PiPl was back on the nest!
One of the chief risks of installing an exclosure is the birds may reject the nest after placing the exclosure. Dave shared that in all his years of experience (and he has been helping Piping Plovers on the North Shore since 1986 when they were first declared threatened) only once did the nesting birds reject the exclosure. He waited forty five minutes for the birds to return and then removed the exclosure.
For friends who may not recall what an exclosure is – an exclosure is a six foot in diameter wire cage placed over a nest and held securely with metal stakes. The openings in the exclosure are large enough to allow PiPl sized birds to go in and out of the cage, but small enough to prevent most small mammals and larger birds such as crows, gulls, hawks, and owls from entering and eating the eggs. Exclosures don’t work in all circumstances but are very practical at busy town beaches such as ours. Bear in mind that over the course of four years, 15 eggs have been laid at Good Harbor Beach by one Piping Plover pair. All fifteen eggs survived and hatched because of the use of an exclosure.Mom sitting on the nest prior to the exclosure installation
EDITED NOTE: Carolyn from Mass Wildlife just shared that Dave has been asked to install the exclosure!!!!!!!
Piping Plovers are on the City Council’s agenda tonight. Despite the fact the wire exclosures have been used with tremendous success the previous four years, there is resistance to using them this year, we can’t imagine for what reason other than the City’s conservation agent was denied a permit for lack of training. The exclosures are still needed without doubt.
The meeting is tonight, Tuesday, at 6pm and can be viewed live. I am trying to find the link and will post that as soon as it is located 🙂
Please bear in mind ALL FIFTEEN OF THE FIFTEEN EGGS that were laid at Good HarborBeach over the past four years hatched. The success of eggs hatching would not have been possible without the use of the exclosures. Read more below and thank you so much for taking the time to read.
Dear Friends of Gloucester’s Piping Plovers,
I hope you are well, staying safe, and taking care.
As you may have heard, we have a nest with two eggs! at Good Harbor Beach (there may be a third egg as of this writing). The nest is only mere feet from the location of the nest of the four previous years. The attached photo was taken Sunday night at around 7pm.
In the past, within hours of phoning Essex County Greenbelt’s Director of Land Stewardship, Dave Rimmer, to report a nest with eggs, Dave and an assistant would arrive to install the exclosure.
Dave and assistant Fionna installing a wire exclosure in 2019
For friends who may not recall what an exclosure is – an exclosure is a six foot in diameter wire cage placed over a nest and held securely with metal stakes. The openings in the exclosure are large enough to allow PiPl sized birds to go in and out of the cage, but small enough to prevent most small mammals and larger birds such as crows, gulls, hawks, and owls from entering and eating the eggs. Exclosures don’t work in all circumstances but are very practical at busy town beaches such as ours for the reasons outlined below. Also, please bear in mind that over the course of four years, 15 eggs have been laid by one Piping Plover pair. All fifteen eggs survived and hatched because of the use of an exclosure. There simply is no denying that.
Installing an exclosure is tricky and can be disruptive to the birds. In the past, Dave and his assistants did the installation with lightening speed and the birds returned to the nest within a few moments. Exclosures can only be installed by a trained, certified person. Certification is issued by Mass Wildlife.
It is our understanding that the conservation agent may not wish to install the exclosure. It is also our understanding that she applied for a permit and was told she could obtain a permit if she received training from Greenbelt, as Audubon offices were closed due to the pandemic. She opted not to receive training and was subsequently denied a permit. Because of these choices and set of events, it would be a tragic mistake to deny the birds the protections they need to survive at Good Harbor Beach.
Why exclosures are imperative to the survival of Piping Plovers at Good Harbor Beach.
The use of exclosures is imperative to the survival of Piping Plover eggs at Good Harbor Beach. Over the previous four years Piping Plover eggs have been protected by exclosures. Why are they used? Because exclosures are extremely effective in safeguarding the birds from dogs, crows, seagulls, stray balls, unwitting people, foxes, coyotes, and all manner of small predatory mammals, from eating or stepping on the eggs.
In 2016, the use of an exclosure to protect eggs at Good Harbor Beach was determined necessary by Mass Wildlife’s John Regosin and Essex Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer.
Because of the use of exclosures, all 15 Piping Plover eggs that have been laid at Good Harbor Beach have hatched.
The critical survival challenge facing our PiPl population happens after the chicks hatch and they are running around on the beach; dangers include gulls, crows, and off-leash dogs, as has been documented.
Exclosures protect shorebird eggs from:
1) Gulls and crows are attracted to Good Harbor beach in great numbers because of the garbage left behind on the beach.
2) Off-leash dogs running through the nesting area. Please see attached photo from the evening of May 24th from 7:00pm to 7:30pm when there were four dogs on the beach during that half hour. Dogs are at Good Harbor Beach during off hours regularly. The large yellow No Dog signs have not yet been installed in the parking lot or at the Whitham Street end of GHB. Even when the signs are posted, people still bring pets to GHB after hours. Signage helps, but it doesn’t prevent everyone from disregarding the rules. Suggestion: A brief period of enforcement (ticketing) during off hours would help get the word out No Dogs allowed.
3) Beachgoers regularly cut through the nesting area, especially by #3, where the nest with eggs is located. It is the most private area of the dunes, which they use as a bathroom, and it is a short cut to their car if they are parked at creek end of the beach.
4) Volleyball games are played adjacent to where the nest is located. Soccer tournaments are also set up next to the nesting area. People bring all kinds of balls to the beach and they often end up in the nesting area.
5) Foxes, which love to eat shorebird eggs.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to read the above.
We are grateful for your consideration.Please take care and be well.
With 128 fledglings this year, Maine is still meeting its conservation targets for gradually restoring the species of tiny beachcombers.
PORTLAND PRESS HERALD
BY GILLIAN GRAHAM
September 4, 2018
A record number of the endangered shorebirds nested on beaches from Ogunquit to Georgetown and produced a record number of fledglings, according to Maine Audubon. Maine beaches hosted 68 nesting pairs that fledged 128 birds, continuing a decade of steady growth in their population.
“That’s the most we’ve had in Maine since we began monitoring in 1981,” said Laura Minich Zitske, who leads the Maine Coastal Birds project for Maine Audubon.
After winter and spring storms left beaches in southern Maine in rough shape, there was some concern about how it would impact the tiny beachcombers that arrive in Maine in late April to early May to nest in the sand near dunes.
“We lost a lot of prime nesting habitat. Beaches like Ogunquit did look pretty rough at points, but thankfully the birds were adaptable and able to find spots to raise their young,” Zitske said.
Ogunquit Beach ended up seeing the most fledglings, with 24 produced by 11 nesting pairs. There were 15 fledglings each at Wells Beach and at Scarborough‘s Western Beach.
Zitske said the success of the plovers this year is due in large part to partnerships between Maine Audubon, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the landowners, volunteers and municipalities that create safe nesting conditions and educate the public about the endangered birds.
In 2005, just 27 chicks fledged on Maine beaches after nests and birds were wiped out by a combination of stormy weather and increased predation. While the numbers fluctuate year to year, the trend in Maine has shown consistent growth since then. Last year, 64 nesting piping plovers yielded 101 chicks.
The 100-plus fledglings – the stage at which chicks can evade predators or other dangers on their own – means Maine is still meeting its conservation targets for gradually restoring a diminutive species of shorebird that nests on Maine’s relatively few sandy beaches at the height of the summer tourism season.
Roughly 2,000 piping plover pairs nest on beaches from North Carolina to Newfoundland. The tiny birds can be spotted skittering at the ocean’s edge or on mudflats searching for worms, bugs and other invertebrates. When they aren’t foraging, plovers can be found nesting in the transition area between dunes and the sandy beach. Plover chicks are so small they are often described as cotton balls walking on toothpick legs.
Maine Audubon works closely with the state wildlife department and towns from Ogunquit to Georgetown to monitor the beaches for breeding pairs beginning in the spring and then advising the public about the birds’ presence. Nests with eggs are often protected by mesh fencing that allows the birds to skitter in and out of the area while keeping out predators. Volunteers and some paid beach monitors advise beachgoers and dog owners on how to avoid disturbing the sensitive birds.