Coastal Ecology Program Update: Spring/Summer 2021
Each season brings its own unique challenge to the Endangered Species Program, and this year is no different! We have seen a record number of nesting pairs of piping plover on Duxbury Beach this year, with a whopping 32 pairs on the beach. Prior to this year, our largest population size peaked at 28 nesting pairs. As with each breeding season, our hope is that the first nest’s that are laid hatch and the chicks are fledged successfully. This leads to a higher productivity for our PIPL population and generally leads to a shorter amount of time their associated Restricted Areas are up for. Unfortunately, mother nature had other ideas for the beach this summer. During the storm over Memorial Day Weekend, we lost 15 nests due to overwash. Since then many of the pairs have re-nested, however this does “reset the clock” on when the final restricted areas will be removed for the season. Our least tern colonies were also affected by the storm, but since they’re eggs were younger and the storm occurred prior to peak hatching, we’re hopeful there wasn’t too much of a delay in their breeding cycle.
Another unique challenge we’ve faced this season comes from a pair that has been utilizing the pedestrian beach in front of the Resident Lot. The brood has been ranging between their nesting location north of the Resident Lot and the wooden boardwalk. Most recently, the brood has attempted to cross to bayside using the mobility-mats and wooden boardwalk! Thankfully, due to our permits we were able to dissuade the brood from crossing in these areas, which would not be ideal.
In addition to the hard work by our dedicated field staff, the Coastal Ecology Program also hosts several volunteer projects. Stewart Ting-Chong, a local photographer who has worked with DBR for several years now, has taken on the task of documenting and photographing warblers and other passerines around High Pines, as well as shorebirds utilizing the adjacent saltmarshes during migration. We have also partnered with Manomet and have been working with their International Shorebird Survey volunteers to allow access and share data regarding the use of Duxbury Beach as an important stopover site during spring and fall migration. Finally, we are also starting a more proactive approach to invasive species control. We have several volunteers from the New England Aquarium who will help us cut and remove knotweed and other invasive species around High Pines. This new technique is part of a multi-year campaign to improve our knotweed removal strategies.