CRANE BEACH PIPING PLOVER UPDATE FROM TRUSTEES OF RESERVATIONS JEFF DENONCOURT

 

Trustees of Reservations ecologist Jeff Denoncour kindly shares information about the Piping Plovers at Crane Beach and he wrote two days ago with an update for us on their Piping Plover population. “Unfortunately the weather has been pretty inclement this year making it tough to monitor and really nail down the number of pairs. That mixed with an abundance of birds and a lot of loss due to storms and high tides and a bit of predation its really hard for me to get an accurate pair count right now. I am estimating that we have more than 33 plover pairs.

So far we have discovered 36 plover nests, but right now we only have 19 active nests. 3 of the 36 nests are renests, which is why I’m saying we have 33 or more pairs. Some pairs have been scraping consistently in areas but have not laid eggs.

Our first nest is due to hatch tomorrow.”

I sent him an email this morning and hopefully we’ll have news of hatchlings!

If you would like to learn more about the outstanding work of the Trustees of Reservations Shorebird Protection Program go here.

Least Tern (left) and Common Tern Crane Beach

FANTASTIC PRESENTATION BY CRANE BEACH ECOLOGIST JEFF DENONCOUR AT THE CAPE ANN MUSEUM

Jeff Denoncour, the Trustees of Reservations Eastern Region Ecologist, gave an outstanding and informative presentation to a packed audience Saturday afternoon. Subjects included the formation and history of Crane Beach, marsh, and dunes; the seven uniquely different ecological zones; the many species of flora and fauna that comprise the rich biodiversity at Castle Island; and the Trustees protective measures managing rare and endangered species.

Since 2010, Jeff has managed the Trustees Shorebird Protection Program at Crane Beach. Because of the very excellent shorebird management at Crane Beach, 2018 was a banner year, with 42 pairs of nesting Piping Plovers and approximately one hundred PiPl chicks fledged. Our community can learn a great deal from the success at Crane Beach in how to better manage shorebirds migrating and nesting at Cape Ann beaches.

We learned from Jeff that Crane Beach is part of a string of barrier beaches formed from sediment deposited by the outflow of the Merricmack River. Salisbury Beach is at the northern end, then Plum Island, then Crane, with Coffins and Wingaersheek at the southern end. The sand that was deposited at Salisbury Beach is the coarsest; the sand at Wingaersheek the lightest and finest as it would have more easily flowed furthest away from the mouth of the river.

Excerpt from a previous post OUTSTANDING COASTAL WATERBIRD CONSERVATION COOPERATORS MEETING! talking about Jeff and the success of the Crane Beach Trustees Piping Plover

“Readers will be interested to know that our region’s Crane Beach continues to have one of their best year’s ever. Trustees of Reservations Jeff Denoncour shared information on the latest census data from 2018 and Crane Beach has a whopping 76 fledglings, with 25 more chicks still yet to fledge. Because of the huge success at Crane Beach, the northeast region, of which we are a part, has fledged a total 136 of chicks in 2018, compared to 108 in 2017, and as I said, with more fledglings still to come! The northeast region encompasses Salisbury Beach to the Boston Harbor Islands.

Jeff noted that this year they had less predation by Great Horned Owls. Because of owl predation, several years ago the Trustees gave up on the wire exclosures and now use electric fencing extensively. The Great Horned Owls learned that the Piping Plover adults were going in an out of the exclosures and began perching on the edge of the wire, picking off the adults as they were entering and exiting the exclosure.

Crane has an excellent crew of Trustees staff monitoring the Least Terns and Piping Plovers, as well as excellent enforcement by highly trained police officers. No dogs are allowed on Crane Beach during nesting season and dogs are prevented from entering at the guarded gate. As we saw from one of the graphics presented about nesting Double-crested Cormorants, when a dog runs through a nesting area, the adults leave the nest, temporarily leaving the eggs and chicks vulnerable to predation by crows, gulls, raptors, and owls.”

Jeff Denoncour and Courtney Richardson, Director of Education and Public Programs at the Cape Ann Museum

TODAY – Reminder Cape Ann Museum Crane beach talk 3pm

courtesy photo for cape ann museum_0448 © t. barrieau the trustees

photo credit: T. Barrieau/The Trustees

Courtney Richardson at the Cape Ann Museum shares information about an upcoming special event at the museum:

Lecture – Life on the Edge: The Ecology of Crane Beach, Saturday Jan. 19th, 3PM

The Cape Ann Museum, in collaboration with The Trustees, is pleased to present a lecture about the natural history and ecological significance of Crane Beach with ecologist Jeff Denoncour. This program is offered in conjunction with the special exhibition Sky/Horizon/Light: Perspectives on Crane Beach. This program is free for Museum members, Trustees members, Cape Ann residents or with Museum admission. Reservations required. For more information visit capeannmuseum.org or call 978-283-0455 x10. 

When one thinks of Crane Beach, the sea, sun, and sand might be the first things that come to mind. But how did the forces of nature create the stunning landscape? What’s special about this incredible barrier beach and marshlands it protects? How do The Trustees protect special places and care for our vulnerable coast? Join Jeff Denoncour, an ecologist with The Trustees, for a dive into the natural history and ecological significance of Crane Beach, how they protect our coastal resources, and examples of success stories resulting from their work.

Jeff Denoncour is the Eastern Region Ecologist with The Trustees where he manages and monitors ecological resources on its properties in Eastern Massachusetts. Jeff grew up on Cape Ann and has spent most of his life living along the coast. He has 11 years of experience managing rare and endangered shorebirds that nest on beaches. For the past eight years, he has been managing the Shorebird Protection Program on Crane Beach, as well as other natural resources that make the Crane Beach such a treasured place.

This program is offered in conjunction with Sky/Horizon/Light: Perspectives on Crane Beach a special exhibition of the paintings of Dorothy “Doffie” Arnold.  The works on view at the Cape Ann Museum offer an ever changing vista of Crane Beach as observed across Ipswich Bay from Arnold’s studio in Bay View (Gloucester). Painted in the 1980s, these acrylics on paper are part of larger series of works by Arnold that take as their subject the intersection of water, land and light viewed from a single vantage point over a period of years. With a low horizon line, a sky that is often turbulent and waters that range from placid to racing, the paintings reflect the strong influence of nature on the artist and her work.

A 1980 graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Dorothy Arnold maintained studios in Cambridge and Gloucester. While much of her work is large scale, the Crane Beach paintings measure just 11×15 inches. Her work, which includes landscapes, still lives, figure studies and abstractions, was the subject of an international retrospective in 2001–2003. It was Arnold’s wish to exhibit her art locally in an effort to strengthen the community’s appreciation of the culture and traditions of the area.

cape ann museum flyer for life on the edge the ecology of crane beach special lecture in collaboration with the trustees_during dorothy arnold exhibition jan 2019

About the Cape Ann Museum Continue reading “TODAY – Reminder Cape Ann Museum Crane beach talk 3pm”

Cape Ann Museum & The Trustees present “Life On the Edge: The Ecology of Crane Beach” Jeff Denoncour lecture

courtesy photo for cape ann museum_0448 © t. barrieau the trustees

photo credit: T. Barrieau/The Trustees

Courtney Richardson at the Cape Ann Museum shares information about an upcoming special event at the museum:

Lecture – Life on the Edge: The Ecology of Crane Beach, Saturday Jan. 19th, 3PM

The Cape Ann Museum, in collaboration with The Trustees, is pleased to present a lecture about the natural history and ecological significance of Crane Beach with ecologist Jeff Denoncour. This program is offered in conjunction with the special exhibition Sky/Horizon/Light: Perspectives on Crane Beach. This program is free for Museum members, Trustees members, Cape Ann residents or with Museum admission. Reservations required. For more information visit capeannmuseum.org or call 978-283-0455 x10. 

When one thinks of Crane Beach, the sea, sun, and sand might be the first things that come to mind. But how did the forces of nature create the stunning landscape? What’s special about this incredible barrier beach and marshlands it protects? How do The Trustees protect special places and care for our vulnerable coast? Join Jeff Denoncour, an ecologist with The Trustees, for a dive into the natural history and ecological significance of Crane Beach, how they protect our coastal resources, and examples of success stories resulting from their work.

Jeff Denoncour is the Eastern Region Ecologist with The Trustees where he manages and monitors ecological resources on its properties in Eastern Massachusetts. Jeff grew up on Cape Ann and has spent most of his life living along the coast. He has 11 years of experience managing rare and endangered shorebirds that nest on beaches. For the past eight years, he has been managing the Shorebird Protection Program on Crane Beach, as well as other natural resources that make the Crane Beach such a treasured place.

This program is offered in conjunction with Sky/Horizon/Light: Perspectives on Crane Beach a special exhibition of the paintings of Dorothy “Doffie” Arnold.  The works on view at the Cape Ann Museum offer an ever changing vista of Crane Beach as observed across Ipswich Bay from Arnold’s studio in Bay View (Gloucester). Painted in the 1980s, these acrylics on paper are part of larger series of works by Arnold that take as their subject the intersection of water, land and light viewed from a single vantage point over a period of years. With a low horizon line, a sky that is often turbulent and waters that range from placid to racing, the paintings reflect the strong influence of nature on the artist and her work.

A 1980 graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Dorothy Arnold maintained studios in Cambridge and Gloucester. While much of her work is large scale, the Crane Beach paintings measure just 11×15 inches. Her work, which includes landscapes, still lives, figure studies and abstractions, was the subject of an international retrospective in 2001–2003. It was Arnold’s wish to exhibit her art locally in an effort to strengthen the community’s appreciation of the culture and traditions of the area.

cape ann museum flyer for life on the edge the ecology of crane beach special lecture in collaboration with the trustees_during dorothy arnold exhibition jan 2019

About the Cape Ann Museum Continue reading “Cape Ann Museum & The Trustees present “Life On the Edge: The Ecology of Crane Beach” Jeff Denoncour lecture”

OUTSTANDING COASTAL WATERBIRD CONSERVATION COOPERATORS MEETING!

Piping Plover Chick Lift-off! – Not quite ready to fly yet, but testing his wings and airborne for a few seconds.

On Tuesday this past week my friend Deborah and I attended the Coastal Waterbird Conservation Cooperators meeting, which took place at Cape Cod Community College in Barnstable. The meeting is held annually to bring together people and organizations that are involved with population monitoring and conservation efforts on behalf of coastal waterbirds. Threatened and endangered species such as Least Terns, Piping Plovers, and American Oystercatchers are given the greatest attention, while the meeting also encompasses efforts on behalf of heron, cormorant, and egret species.

American Oystercatchers

Conservationists from all seven Massachusetts coastal regions participated, as well as conservationists from nearby states, including representatives from New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. To name just some of the organizations presenting at the meeting-Mass Wildlife, Trustees of Reservations, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and US Fish and Wildlife. Gloucester was well represented. In addition to Deborah and myself, two members of the Animal Advisory Committee also attended; chairperson Alicia Pensarosa and former animal control officer Diane Corliss. Many of you may remember our Mass Wildlife Piping Plover intern Jasmine. She was there to give a presentation on habitat vegetation utilized by nesting Piping Plovers. Her aunt, Gloucester’s Terry Weber, was there to support Jasmine. This was Jasmine’s first time speaking in public and she did an excellent job!

Each region gave the 2018 population census report for nesting birds as well as providing information about problems and solutions. We all share similar challenges with predation from crows and gulls, uncontrolled dogs, enforcement, and habitat loss and it was very interesting to learn about how neighboring communities are managing problems and issues.

Just one highlight of a day filled with helpful insights and useful information is that we can be very proud of our state—Massachusetts is at the leading edge of the Piping Plover recovery effort. The representative from New Jersey was there specifically to learn from Massachusetts conservationists on how they could possibly improve their recovery program as the New Jersey PiPl population is not growing, with fewer and fewer each year retuning to nest. As you can see from the graph provided at the meeting, the Canadian recovery is going very poorly as well.

Readers will be interested to know that our region’s Crane Beach continues to have one of their best year’s ever. Trustees of Reservations Jeff Denoncour shared information on the latest census data from 2018 and Crane’s has a whopping 76 fledglings, with 25 more chicks still yet to fledge. Because of the huge success at Cranes Beach, the northeast region, of which we are a part, has fledged a total 136 of chicks in 2018, compared to 108 in 2017, and as I said, with more fledglings still to come! The northeast region encompasses Salisbury Beach to the Boston Harbor Islands.

Jeff noted that this year they had less predation by Great Horned Owls. Because of owl predation, several years ago Crane Beach gave up on the wire exclosures and now use electric fencing extensively. The Great Horned Owls learned that the Piping Plover adults were going in an out of the exclosures and began perching on the edge of the wire, picking off the adults as they were entering and exiting the exclosure.

Crane has an excellent crew of Trustees staff monitoring the Least Terns and Piping Plovers, as well as excellent enforcement by highly trained police officers. No dogs are allowed on Crane Beach during nesting season and dogs are prevented from entering at the guarded gate. As we saw from one of the graphics presented about nesting Double-crested Cormorants, when a dog runs through a nesting area, the adults leave the nest, temporarily leaving the eggs and chicks vulnerable to predation by crows, gulls, raptors, and owls.

Crane Beach Least Tern fledgling.

Compare the Least Tern to Common Tern in the above photo. It’s easy to see why the birds are called Least Terns; they are North America’s smallest member of the tern and gull family (Crane Beach).

Another interesting bit of information shared–if you listen to our podcasts, back in April, we talked about the potential dilemma of what would happen if Snowy Owls remained on the beaches as the Piping Plovers returned from their winter grounds. Knowing that Snowy Owls (Bubo scandiacus) and Great Horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) are close cousins and that the Great Horned Owl eats Piping Plover chicks and adults, I was concerned that a Snowy might eat our PiPl. At one particular beach on Cape Cod, a Snowy stayed through mid-July. An adult Piping Plover skull was found in the owl’s pellet.

Snowy Owls remained in Massachusetts this year through July.

After attending the cooperators meeting, I am more hopeful than ever that our community can come together and solve the problems that are preventing our PiPl from successfully nesting and fledging chicks. What we have going in our favor is the sheer number of amazing super volunteers along with strong community-wide support.  

Piping Plover fully fledged and flying up and down the beach – we”ll have these next year!