Good Egg Blog

Stone Harbor Point Restoration

The Stone Harbor beach nesting bird and shorebird habitat restoration project began its second year this past Friday February 19th.  Our permit was approved in the early morning and we started work at about 10:30 am. The first job focused on restoring access to the beach, still damaged after Winter Storm Jonas.  We created a simple crossover that got the machines moving.  By 12 o’clock noon the H4 company excavators and dump trucks were already moving sand.  By 3 o’clock they had moved over a thousand yards of sand.

L. Tedesco photographed at the beach access overpass which was destroyed by winter storm Jonas

 

Steve Hafner’s team set stakes on the island habitat on Stone Harbor Point 

 

Steve Hafner and the Stockton team had already laid out the markers describing both the borrow zone and the southern habitat.The borrow zone distinguishes our project and its replenishment forms one of our project goals: can we harvest sand from Stone Harbor Point to elevate nesting areas and will it replenish itself through natural ocean processes in a year’s time?  The answer at this point is yes.  In one year it has accreted more than enough sand to maintain the bird nesting habitats.

Our project was made much more difficult by winter storm Jonas. This extraordinary weather system hit Stone Harbor and Avalon Island with the ferocity of a hurricane and bringing tide levels that rivaled those seen after Hurricane Sandy.  Before Jonas, we intended only to restore habitat lost over the winter amounting to just over 6000 yards of sand, far less than the 52,000 yards moved last year to create the habitats.  Last year we created three habitats: a northern and southern habitat area and a smaller island on the bayside.  Winter storms had damaged the northern habitat and so this year was supposed to focus on the relatively small job of repairing the northern habitat.  Jonas changed that.

 

A view of the southern habitat isolated by the high tide

On Monday February 22 Boomer Heun  walked his million dollar excavator out to find high tide waters almost 2 feet deep, separating him from the Southern habitat and the borrow zone. He could not go on until the high tide passed.  After waiting about three hours the tide began to run out enough to begin excavation.  By the end of the day they had moved another 1000 yards to the southern habitat. Unfortunately another Northeastern is expected to come into the area tomorrow, with winds up to 25 knots. This will push the spring high tides even higher and create yet another problem for our project.

 

 H4 begins the harvesting of sand from the borrow site at Stone Harbor Point

 

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2016 International Piping Plover Census

Amanda Pachomski, Audubon New York’s Long Island Bird Conservation Manager, recently traveled to Grand Bahama with Corrie Folsom-O’Keefe, the IBA Coordiator of Audubon Connecticut. They were charged with surveying the newly created East Grand Bahama National Park by boat and on foot, with the help of a Deep Water Cay Resort fishing guide. The following week, Cris Luttazi and Edie Ray would survey the rest of Grand Bahama by land. The main focus of these surveys was to find foraging and roosting Piping Plovers for the International Piping Plover Census. This census, led by USGS, USFWS, Bahamas National Trust, and the National Audubon Society, is a widespread effort to count plovers every five years. From January 18th to February 1st, 2016, staff and volunteers from various organizations surveyed for Piping Plovers, Wilson’s Plovers, and Snowy Plovers throughout their winter ranges. As this survey period overlaps with BirdsCaribbean’s Caribbean Waterbird Census, which is conducted annually from January 14th to February 3rd, surveyors were asked to also record all observed shorebirds and waterbirds. These censuses provide a snapshot of bird populations and document important wintering habitat. Data collected in previous surveys have resulted in significant conservation outcomes, such as the designation of this site and the Joulter Cays as National Parks.

Grand Bahama Island sits approximately 100 miles to the east of West Palm Beach, Florida.  At the east end of the Island, large cays stretch out to the southeast, with creeks flowing between them.  The shoreline along the southwestern side of the cays includes stretches of sandy beaches and bars, vegetated flats, and limestone formations, while most of the northeastern shoreline of the cays is dominated by mangroves. As Corrie had surveyed this area in 2014, she knew that the best way to find large flocks of shorebirds is to survey sandflats that become exposed at low tide and provide excellent foraging habitat. This year, they also discovered that scanning the shoreline while boating very slowly along the shore was an effective method for finding roosting plovers.Corrie Folsom-O'Keefe at Rumer Flats 2Amanda at Red Shank

Amanda and Corrie surveyed the eastern cays of Grand Bahama on January 19th, 20th, and 21st, 2016 on foot and by boat, with the help of a Deep Water Cay resort guide. They detected between 17 and 18 Piping Plovers and 7 Wilson’s Plovers, none of which had bands. Plovers use some areas of the southwestern side of the cays for foraging at low tide, while other areas are high tide roosting spots.  At high tide, both Piping and Wilson’s Plovers will use spots with just several meters of sandy beach. Wilson’s Plovers seem to have a greater preference for rocky shoreline than do Piping Plovers. They also observed six different types of long-legged waders as well as 11 species of shorebirds, including large mixed-species flocks of Short-billed Dowitchers and Black-bellied Plovers.

Piping Plover (4) and Sanderling (1) at Sweetings Cay FlatsThis experience highlighted the importance of international partnerships for life cycle conservation of Piping Plovers. Amanda and Corrie enjoyed talking with local birders, Bahamas National Trust staff, and Deep Water Cay Resort staff about our conservation work on plover breeding grounds. When they first met their local guide, he wasn’t very familiar with the Piping Plover. But, by the end of the surveys, he became really skilled at spotting and identifying plovers and other shorebird and long-legged wader species. They were thrilled that Deep Water Cay Resort staff had taken such an interest in Piping Plover conservation. Also, they were thankful to gain local knowledge on the rest of the island’s plover habitat, which they shared with the next pair of surveyors. Thank you to the Bahamas National Trust staff for helping to coordinate their travel and accommodations, and to Deep Water Cay staff for being so kind and helpful. Thank you to Audubon’s International Alliances Program, Audubon Connecticut, and Audubon New York for supporting this important and exciting survey effort.

American Oystercatchers 3_NEW

Short-billed Dowitchers at Big Creek Inlet

This article includes text and photos from Corrie Folsom-O’Keefe, Audubon Connecticut’s Important Bird Area Coordinator.

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Stone Harbor Restoration project

  NJ Audubon received a grant through National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program to restore and enhance beaches at Stone Harbor Point, Cape May. We are partnering with L. J. Niles and Associates, the Wetlands Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Conserve Wildlife Foundation, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Richard Stockton College of NJ Coastal Research Center, and the Borough of Stone Harbor to increase available quality habitat for migratory and beach nesting birds, and coastal resiliency for the Borough and its residents.
Stone Harbor Point provides a protective barrier to the Borough of Stone Harbor from damaging coastal storms and sea level rise.  Sand from re-nourishment activities north of the Point provides a continual resupply of sand to the area through southerly longshore drift. This ensures a long-term supply of sand for restoration. Through local sand harvesting (ie. no dredging or trucking in sand) we will build elevation and improve habitat quality for coastal birds, and reduce coastal flooding.   Because materials are present locally, the cost for sand acquisition and transport will be greatly reduced and sustainable.
24Febdune construction
Habitat construction – photo by Larry Niles
12Feb_NKT_IMG_0575
Habitat construction – photo by Nellie Tsipoura
Through monitoring we will document any biological impacts of sand harvesting on intertidal invertebrate communities to determine if this method is an ecologically sound approach for protected wildlife areas.  We will also monitor use of the site by migratory shorebirds (Red Knot, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Sanderling, Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover, American Oystercatcher, etc.) and beach nesting birds (Piping Plovers, American Oystercatchers, Black Skimmers, Least Terns).  Furthermore, we will conduct outreach programs to decrease human disturbance at the site and predator control to ensure improved nesting success.
18Feb dunlin feeding along borrow
Dunlin foraging in escavated area – photo by Larry Niles
The NFWF Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program is supporting projects that will assess, restore, enhance or create wetlands, beaches and other natural systems to help better protect communities and to mitigate the impacts of future storms and naturally occurring events on fish and wildlife species and habitats.  The program received 375 applications requesting over $563 million. Of these, 54 were funded for a total of $102.75 million.   We are happy to be recipients of this competitive grant.For updates on the project, visit the NJ Audubon website
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Be a Good Egg Beach Clean-Up

As a part of International Coastal Cleanup, Be a Good Egg NYC is taking part in a beach cleanup at Orchard Beach on September 20th. Garbage on the beach attracts animals such as gulls, foxes and raccoons that will readily prey on beach-nesting birds and their young. This beach clean-up will make a huge difference to beach nesting and migratory shore birds! Be a Good Egg NYC is looking for volunteers to help out at Orchard Beach on September 20th.

Volunteers can meet at the Orchard Beach Nature Center at Section 2 (the North end) at 10 am. We’ll be clearing the shore of Twin Island N of the boardwalk. Supplies for the cleanup will be provided.

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Be a Good Egg NYC

 

This summer be on the look on for the Be a Good Egg (BAGE) project at Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay and Beach 116th in the Rockaways. BAGE’s goal is to educate beachgoers about how to share the beach with nesting shorebirds like Least Terns, Piping Plovers, and American Oystercatchers that nest and rest on the beaches of New York and New Jersey every spring and summer.

Human presence can unintentionally have a profound and disruptive impact around nesting shorebirds. Eggs and chicks are at high risk from predators and extreme temperatures when an adult is frightened away from the nest. BAGE invites you to take the Be a Good Egg Pledge this summer:

 

I pledge to:

Stay out of marked areas where birds are nesting.

Keep my dog on a leash and out of nesting areas and away from migrating birds that are staging on the beaches.

Share the beach with nesting and migrating birds and their young.

With your help, we can protect New York’s beach-nesting birds and their young.

 

Volunteers are needed for the BAGE program! We are planning some fun craft and outreach activities for all ages from 10 am to 4 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays this summer. Please see our schedule below for more details.

We will also be joining the Urban Park Rangers for Plover Day on July 6th at Beach 59th from 11 am to 2 pm. Please stop by and enjoy games, crafts, and educational activities to raise awareness about the federally endangered piping plovers nesting in NYC!

Take the pledge to help protect nesting shorebirds!

 

Saturday 6/28/2014 Rockaway B116 10 am to 4 pm
Tuesday 7/1/2014 Rockaway B116 10 am to 4 pm
Thursday 7/3/2014 Rockaway B116 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday 7/5/2014 Orchard 10 am to 4 pm
Sunday 7/6/2014 Plover Day 59th St 11X2 10 am to 4 pm
Tuesday 7/8/2014 Rockaway B116 10 am to 4 pm
Thursday 7/10/2014 Orchard 10 am to 4 pm
Tuesday 7/15/2014 Orchard 10 am to 4 pm
Thursday 7/17/2014 Rockaway B116 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday 7/19/2014 Rockaway B116 10 am to 4 pm
Sunday 7/20/2014 Orchard 10 am to 4 pm
Tuesday 7/22/2014 Orchard 10 am to 4 pm
Thursday 7/24/2014 Rockaway B116 10 am to 4 pm

 

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From Long Island to Long Island: Bahamas Piping Plover Surveys

Audubon New York’s Long Island Bird Conservation (LIBC) coordinator just recently returned from a very successful wintering Piping Plover survey in the Bahamas. Throughout the winter, teams of biologists from Audubon and the Bahamas National Trust searched five different Bahamian islands for wintering Piping Plovers and other shorebirds. The LIBC Coordinator had the opportunity to work alongside staff from Audubon North Carolina, Audubon Florida, and the Bahamas National trust on Andros and Long Island.Thanks in part to efforts of the Audubon Society, the Bahamas has been recognized as an important wintering area for Piping Plover and other shorebirds. In 2011, Audubon documented over 1,000 wintering Piping Plovers in the Bahamas (many of which are likely Atlantic Coast breeders), and decided to return in 2014 to continue and expand the surveys.

 

 

 

 

 

The LIBC coordinator’s time on Long Island was both exciting and productive. The Long Island survey crew documented 54 Piping Plovers — a record high for the Island.  Another exciting find was two banded Piping Plovers. Both birds were banded by researchers on the breeding grounds nearly 1,000 miles away in New Jersey in previous summers.  The Long Island surveys also turned up other target species including 94 Western Sandpipers, 25 Sanderling,  21 Wilson’s Plovers, 23 American Oysercatchers, and one Snowy Plover. Both the Oystercatcher and Snowy Plover sightings were records for the island.



 

 

 

 

On Andros the crew surveyed areas in the North and Middle Bight, Blanket Sound, and the Joulter Cays. The surveys turned up 206 Piping Plovers – 9 of which were banded. The banded birds on Andros included birds banded in the Bahamas during the winter of 2010, as well as birds banded on the breeding grounds in Massachusetts, Michigan, and even one from Long Island, NY! One Piping Plover, with etched flag “82” was banded on Fire Island, NY in the summer of 2013. We hope to spot #82 back on the breeding grounds this year! Other target species located during the Andros surveys included 123 Western Sandpipers, 13 Sanderling, 32 Wilson’s Plovers, 34 Red Knots, and 5 American Oystercatchers.


 

 

 

 

While searching for Piping Plovers and other target shorebird species, the LIBC coordinator and crew got to see and experience various other birds, wildlife, and beautiful places. From electric blue waters to expansive mangroves, the habitats were beautiful and diverse. And whether it was the discovery of Reddish Egret nests or the first sight of shorebirds roosting on mangroves, the crew had many unexpected and notable surprises.  

 

 

 

 

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Long Island Field Season 2013

With the fledging of our last American oystercatcher chick last week, the Long Island Bird Conservation Program’s (LIBCP) 2013 field season officially came to a close! Starting in April, the LIBCP staff and volunteers hit the beach to monitor and protect beach-nesting and migratory shorebirds.  LIBCP staff worked at 6 beach-nesting bird sites to protect and monitor 7 nesting piping plover pairs, 2 American oystercatcher pairs, and 50-60 pairs of least terns.  Piping plover and American oystercatcher pairs were down this year at our sites but this was the first season in 3 years that all three of our nesting species successfully produced fledglings. Least Tern fledglings at Orient Beach State Park were a highlight of the season, as were the 3 successful piping plover fledglings at Centre Island Village Park!

Additionally, 2 LIBCP staff, 5 volunteers, and 1 high school environmental club performed shorebird migration surveys at 18 sites this spring – the most we’ve had to date! Excitingly, 13 of the sites had complete datasets and 4 sites were “priority” migration areas. A total of 107 surveys were performed throughout the season resulting in over 60 hours of work. Throughout the season, surveyors documented 19 shorebird species across the sites, with some documenting as many as 12 species and over 1500 shorebirds in a single survey! The information collected will become the foundation of a dataset that will be used to track trends in shorebird populations on Long Island and will be submitted to the International Shorebird Survey to help track shorebird populations on a broader scale.

Thank you to everyone that made this a successful season!

Here are some pictures from our 2013 field season:

   

  

   

 

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Long Island Tern Shelter Event

This past weekend the Long Island Bird Conservation Program and the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center led a team of volunteers in building tern shelters that will be used on Great Gull Island.

 

Great Gull Island, a small island off of Long Island’s North Fork, supports the largest nesting colony of common terns in the world and largest nesting colony of federally endangered Roseate Terns in the Western Hemisphere and is recognized as an Important Bird Area as well as a Long Island Sound Stewardship Site.

 

The program, which consisted of a lecture, lunch, and tern shelter building, was a great success. Seventeen volunteers attended the program and made 45 tern shelters! The shelters will be donated to the Great Gull Island Project and will be used to provide shade and protection for tern chicks during the breeding season. This event was the first in a series of public programming events focused on the Long Island Sound that will be held at the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary this fall.

 

Thank you to all of the volunteers that participated!

 

 

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Long Island “Be a Good Egg” Outreach

This summer Audubon New York brought “Be a Good Egg” straight to the beach! Staff and volunteers held a series of public outreach events at Jones Beach State Park, Point Lookout Town Park, and Lido Beach Town Park during busy beach weekends. Beachgoers were asked to sign a pledge to “share the beach” with nesting birds through which they promised to stay out of fenced areas where birds are nesting, to take trash off the beach, and to not bring dogs to the beach.

 Equipped with photos, brochures, and posters, staff and volunteers also educated the public on identification of beach-nesting birds, their importance, and the need for individual action to help protect these birds. We’re elated to share that after six days of outreach a total of 988 pledges were signed! This is largely due to our 24 dedicated volunteers that put in over 130 hours of work!

  Thank you to all the staff and volunteers for making this project a huge success and to NY State Parks and the Town of Hempstead Department of Conservation and Waterways for their support and cooperation!

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Trip to Nature Conservancy’s Cape May Meadows, Richard Teitelman Middle School, May 29, 2013

New Jersey Audubon’s Nature Center of Cape May held another field trip to view beach nesting birds as a part of the Be a Good Egg program. 7th graders fromRichardTeitelmanMiddle Schoolmet May 29th with NJ Audubon teacher/naturalist Sam Wilson at the Nature Conservancy’s Cape May Meadows. We were also joined by The Nature Conservancy’s beach nesting monitor Ben Gery and preserve coordinator Adrianna Zito who gave an introduction about the refuge.

The field trip was a great success. Students set out to see the beach nesters and they delivered! We saw black skimmers on the beach, piping plovers nesting, many least terns (including nesting pairs), and just hatched american oystercatcher chicks being brooded and running around with their parents in the nesting area. We also witnessed one of the adults feeding the chicks, a very exciting moment for students (and teachers) to see. We saw many other interesting beach and marsh birds along the way and wrapped up the day at the Nature Center of Cape May.

Students created original artwork with themes of respecting the birds, staying out of fenced areas, and keeping dogs off the beach. The signs are being professionally made and will be posted on the beach in the coming week.

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