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|Rough summer for plovers|
|Written by Colleen Moore|
|Tuesday, 14 July 2009 14:08|
Weeks of rain and storms have caught up to the piping plovers, as
nesting on Duxbury Beach has become nearly impossible this summer.
After a June Norâ€™easter knocked out much of the plover nests on Duxbury Beach, the birds re-nested only to have their nests destroyed again during a storm in early July.
There are two nests on the bay side right now. One nest has three chicks, while the other has three chicks and one egg that has just started hatching, Michael Pforr, the Endangered Species Officer said.
The Duxbury Beach Reservation works hand in hand with the Massachusetts Audubon Society to protect the birds.
â€œThe beach wouldnâ€™t be open during the nesting season if we werenâ€™t able to provide monitors and protection,â€ Maggie Kearney of the Duxbury Beach Reservation said. The beach has to follow strict rules because the birds are endangered.
â€œItâ€™s still our beach and our responsibility,â€ Al Vautrinot of the Duxbury Beach Reservation said. â€œThe Audubon Society is one of the resources we use to help us do a good job of maintaining [the beach].â€
Four out of five piping plover nests on the beach side were also washed away during the storm.
â€œThis summer is pretty much a wash,â€ Rebecca Harris, of the Massachusetts Audubon Society said of the plover nesting season. Most of the birds were on their third attempt at nesting, and it is unlikely that they will try a fourth time, Harris said.
Harris is hopeful that future seasons will make up for this lackluster season. Birds live for about five years, so if they have even one offspring it will help the population, Harris said.
Not all towns are experiencing bird troubles. Scituate has had a good year with their piping plovers. While the Scituate site is not huge, three pairs of plovers managed to survive the storm. Scituate Beach is much like Duxbury Beach, in that it is an east-facing beach that was hit hard by the storm.
â€œThis shows that a lot of it is chance depending on where the birds choose to nest,â€ Harris said.
The Least Turn population is doing surprisingly well this summer. These birds are listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act as well, however they nest through August, unlike the plovers, who only nest through mid July. This means that they will re-nest more times than the plovers. The Least Turns also nest in colonies, meaning that there are more birds to protect the nests.
â€œTheyâ€™ll peck your head basically,â€ Harris said of the Least Turnâ€™s method of protection. As far as the Piping Plovers, no one knows exactly what will happen next this summer. Many of the birds will not re-nest.
The Reservation provides the funds to pay for the bird monitors, who keep watch over the nests and prevent people from entering the nesting area. The Audubon Society trains the monitors and also holds educational programs throughout the summer on different subjects, such as the Piping Plovers or beach vegetation. These programs are designed to educate beach-goers on their surroundings while at the beach.
The areas that Piping Plovers and Least Turns nest in are blocked
off by a bright orange rope. Visitors are not allowed in these areas,
as simply walking by a nest is enough to make the birds leave the area.
While the nests might have washed away, it is still important to stay out of the nesting areas.
â€œThe bottom line is to give the birds space,â€ Harris said. â€œThatâ€™s really all we can do for now.â€
Piping Plovers are territorial birds and should be back next summer, Pforr said. "It's not an exact science, but the Plovers will keep coming back," he said.