Spring is officially here, and the green tips of the daffodils aren’t the only new things about the landscape. The beaches have some new arrivals as well.
NRD has spent the past few weeks preparing for the start of shorebird season on April 1. That means a lot of long walks on the beach as we assess the beach habitat for suitability. Our plovers and oystercatchers prefer to nest in the same areas year after year, but the natural erosion and accretion of beaches means that habitat may change throughout the season. An area that was previously good habitat may not look all that good to a plover after it’s been battered by wind and waves over the winter. Understanding what our habitat looks like helps predict where we may see birds turn up for the upcoming season.
It also means the return of symbolic shorebird fencing. Many of us are familiar by now with the posts and string that seem to appear on beaches overnight. These fenced areas are critical for ensuring the survival of our endangered birds. Plovers and their eggs are flawlessly camouflaged to blend perfectly with the sandy pebbly shoreline, which works very well to keep a hungry seagull from spotting the nest, but also makes them practically invisible to beachgoers. Fencing prevents the eggs from being crushed and also allows a buffer so that the adult birds can have some space to themselves and avoid being stressed by constant human presence. We’ve spent the final week of March on beaches all across the island to make sure these fences are installed in time for the birds’ arrival.