LEARNING ABOUT HOW MASSACHUSETTS COMMUNITIES MANAGE NESTING PIPING PLOVERS

To better understand how to help Gloucester’s Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers survive nesting at our most well loved and highly trafficked beach I have been following a little Plover family at Revere Beach. 

Like Gloucester, Revere is a city north of Boston. Only ten square miles, with six miles of land, four miles of water, and a population of 52,000 people, Revere is a much more densely populated city than Gloucester. Gloucester’s year round population is 28,000, covering an area of 41 square miles, with 26 miles of land and 15 miles of water.

Revere Beach is the first public beach established in America (1895). Misperceptions about a needle and trash littered shoreline are deeply held but in reality, Revere Beach is a beautiful beach, beautifully maintained.

Each year Revere Beach hosts the International Sand Sculpting Festival, with amazing sculpting competitions, amusements, food, and fireworks. This year’s festival will be held on the weekend of July 20-July 22nd (photo courtesy wiki commons media).

Piping Plovers began arriving at Revere Beach at the same time the GHB PiPl arrived, in late-March and very early April. There are at least half a dozen nesting areas cordoned off for Piping Plovers. Revere has had excellent success with fledging Piping Plover chicks because the PiPl are allowed to establish nests early in the season, without disturbance. From decades of field work, it is known that the earlier the chicks hatch, the greater their chance of survival.

I stopped by to check on the Revere Beach PiPl family on a recent Sunday afternoon; it’s not that out of the way to make it part of my regular routine coming home from Cambridge and Boston jobs. And then stopped at Good Harbor Beach. The difference was astounding. There wasn’t any trash or dog poop on Revere Beach, and there wasn’t a dog anywhere along the five mile stretch of beach. There were however six dogs off leash at Good Harbor Beach within the twenty minutes that I was there to say hello to PiPl monitor Heather and to check on our PiPl parking lot family.

Perhaps you might not think a fair comparison; Revere Beach is much longer than GHB, and it is under the management of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation but I did not see a single DCR employee or officer policing Revere Beach that dog-and-trash-free Sunday afternoon.

Over the past several decades, communities throughout Massachusetts have been learning how to live with Piping Plovers. I am hopeful that the more we learn about the issues confronting the Piping Plovers, the Gloucester community will come together to take the steps to insure their safety and successful nesting. 

There are a great number of helpful signs at Revere Beach.

The triangular-shaped signs that are posted at the PiPl nesting areas are on the small side, only about 8 inches. 

Just like at Nahant Beach (above) many of the roped off areas at Revere Beach have three rows of roping.

At Revere Beach dogs are not allowed on the beach beginning April 1st. The rules are clearly posted at each and every entry to the beach. The signs and poles aren’t fancy and I imagine would be affordable and easy to obtain.

The Gabe and Gabby Family with their leashed dog on the boulevard, sitting next to a PiPl nesting area–no problem for this family to keep their dog off the beach during nesting season.

Plenty of trash barrels.

Some folks are under the false impression that the reason our GHB PiPl are nesting in the parking lot is because when they arrived it was cold and the parking lot hard pack is warm. Factually speaking, Piping Plovers arrived at beaches all along the Massachusetts coastline in mid-March and early April. As far as we know, the Good Harbor Beach PiPl are the Only Piping Plovers nesting in a parking lot.

Male Plover nesting at Revere Beach. The Revere Beach PiPl were creating their nest scrapes on the beach at exactly the same time our GHB PiPl were trying to establish a nest on the beach.

Just like our GHB PiPl family, it looks like there are four eggs in the Revere Beach nest!

Next time I stop to visit the Revere Beach PiPl family, I am going to have to bring home some Kelly’s roast beef sandwiches for dinner. I’ve heard the seafood is pretty good at Kelly’s, too!

10 comments

  • Guess it is all about respect, rules, and enforcement. Certainly, residents know the birds’ nests are there. When are dogs no longer allowed on Good Harbor?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Nice article, Kim! I’ve been very curious about Revere Beach and their Plover program. Good for them! I’m sorry I missed you on Sunday, though!!!😔

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Heather, and thank you for all you are doing to help the PiPl! This was Sunday, May 6th–you were there–it was the late afternoon we were both calling the dog officer 🙂

      Like

  • Excellent chowder, too.
    So glad you made the trek! One can only hope that education works for the Gloucester beach babies. The fact that there is a police station practically onsite on the RB Blvd might be somewhat of a deterrent for scofflaws. Peer pressure probably plays a big part, as well. Keep up the good works, Kim. You’re truly an inspiration. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the chowder tip Susan! And for the good words, so very much appreciated. I’ve been visiting regularly and am very much looking forward to learning how the volunteers manage after the chicks hatch.

      Like

  • Pretty sad when Revere does a better job than Gloucester. This is so disenhartening. Our Mayor , John McCarthy & Environmental Police need to step up enforcement, or shut the entire beach and parking lot down.

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    • The purpose of the article is to show how when a community works together to take relatively basic steps good things happen. I’ve heard many comments about how GHB is just too busy, that we need to relocate the birds (illegal to do so), and that we don’t have the will or the means by which to help the PiPlovers. GHB is as much loved by its community as is Revere Beach. Our DPW, Mayor Sefatia, Chief McCarthy, Dave Rimmer from Greenbelt, Mass Wildlife, and USFWS are all working behind the scenes to help the PiPl and to make sure we don’t have Plovers nesting in the parking lot next year. I think we can do this!

      Like

  • Great job, Kim — thanks so much for the apt comparison to Revere Beach. You’ve spoken about Crane as well. This problem just shouldn’t be so hard to solve if people work together and respect each other. Keep up the good work!

    Like

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