web analytics

Great success with Connecticut waterbirds

Posted on Sep 2, 2014

Today I sent out the final 2014 Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds (AAfCW) weekly update email to all of our shorebird monitors and volunteers. Waterbird nesting season has come to a close and all of the juvenile and adult birds are on the way south for the year. Despite having a reduced staff the third AAfCW year may be the most successful yet in terms of breeding productivity for critical species like the federally threatened Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus), habitat monitoring, conservation efforts, volunteer engagement, outreach and education.

Piping Plover hatchling

Piping Plover hatchling on the Connecticut shore

Here is a brief rundown of some of the highlights:

  • Piping Plover breeding pairs are confirmed to have successfully fledged 88 chicks with the final total potentially well into the 90s, a sum that is only slightly under the all-time record high number for Piping Plovers successfully fledged in Connecticut
  • AAfCW engaged at least 383 citizen scientists as volunteers and shorebird monitors logging at least 2,200 hours in conservation and education activities thus far in 2014
  • Our staff and volunteers monitored or surveyed and recorded 51 species of shorebirds, terns and long-legged waders at over 183 important sites across Connecticut in 2014 including barrier beaches, offshore islands, tidal marshes, inland waterways, wet meadows, grasslands, and other critically important or endangered habitats
  • We put 187 elementary school aged children to work in crafting signage like this for various beaches in an effort to educate visitors in a creative, fun way about the imperiled birds nesting on Connecticut shores while teaching the students the basic facts about these avian friends

Least Tern sign

  • The reopening of Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Pleasure Beach to the public was a tremendous victory for beachgoers, birds and outreach efforts with successfully nesting Piping Plovers on the site, the first in several years, highlighting a positive first season
  • AAfCW reached well over 10,000 beachgoers, naturalists, residents and others through several novel outreach programs, place-based education, nature activities in the classroom and social media networks
  • We recruited and trained 35 volunteers that staffed tables at three Important Bird Areas and critical waterbird nesting beaches every other weekend this summer, asking beachgoers to take the “Be a Good Egg” Pledge – pledging to stay clear of fenced off nesting bird areas, giving space to migratory shorebirds at staging zones, keeping any dogs on leash or off the beach and to share the beach with our birds – and collecting over 300
  • Over 20 volunteers participated in the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences’ International Shorebird Surveys in the spring and will continue through the fall across coastal and inland Connecticut
  • In partnership with the City of Bridgeport and the Student Conservation Association, AAfCW provided training, mentoring and employment to 13 Bridgeport high school students known as the “WildLife Guards” who spent part of the spring and summer monitoring Piping Plover and Least Terns at Pleasure Beach and encouraging a “share the shore” stewardship philosophy among beachgoers

And it goes on and on! We are all very proud of the joint efforts between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Audubon Connecticut and RTPI. We will be continuing our year-round work while corresponding with our partners to calculate the final data for the season which will be released later this fall.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator