DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife schedules training in Lewes for volunteer beachnesting bird monitors

LEWES (April 11, 2019) – Volunteers wanting to help protect Delaware’s beachnesting birds, including federally-listed threatened piping plovers, are invited to join DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife monitoring team at a training session to be held from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 4, at Cape Henlopen State Park’s Biden Environmental Training Center, 15099 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes, DE 19958.

The training session will begin with a slideshow, followed by a discussion about the monitoring program and how volunteers can help ensure that beachnesting shorebirds are not disturbed while nesting and rearing their chicks. Light refreshments will be provided.

Weather permitting, the group will finish the session by venturing out to the Point at Cape Henlopen to look for piping plovers and other shorebirds likely to be feeding on the tidal flats. Birding scopes and binoculars will be available for use, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own optics if they have them.

Volunteers are an important component in the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s conservation efforts. When stationed on the boundaries of the bird nesting areas, volunteers can explain to beachgoers the importance of closing these nesting areas to prevent human disturbance and to increase the nesting success of the birds.

Pre-registration for the training is encouraged, but volunteers also will be accepted at the door. Park entrance fees will be waived for volunteers attending the training. For more information on the training, beachnesting birds, or monitoring efforts, please visit piping plover or contact Henrietta Bellman at 302-735-3612 or Henrietta.Bellman@delaware.gov.

Follow the Division of Fish & Wildlife on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 91


DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announces successful piping plover nesting season

Updates on other beachnesting birds

LEWES – The data is in, and DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife is reporting a successful nesting season for piping plovers in Delaware, with an all-time high number of 16 breeding pairs producing 36 fledglings. Four pairs of piping plovers nested at the Point at Cape Henlopen State Park, and 12 pairs nested at Fowler Beach at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, a relatively new breeding site that was first used by nesting piping plovers in 2016 following a habitat restoration project.

 

For the second year in a row, piping plovers did not nest at Gordons Pond within Cape Henlopen State Park, possibly due to the combined factors of encroaching vegetation limiting sandy nesting habitat and the availability of more attractive nesting habitat at Fowler Beach.

The piping plover is a federally-listed threatened species and a state-listed endangered species in Delaware. Species recovery involves partnerships between DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife and Division of Parks & Recreation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In other beachnesting bird updates, one pair of American oystercatchers successfully hatched and fledged a single chick at the Point at Cape Henlopen State Park. No least terns were found nesting at Cape Henlopen State Park this year for the first time since the state began monitoring least tern nesting in 2006.

For additional information on piping plovers or other beachnesting birds, please call Audrey DeRose-Wilson with the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Species Conservation and Research Program at 302-735-3600.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902


Stretches of ocean beach reopened at Cape Henlopen State Park

Piping plover nesting season concludes with 13 fledglings this year

CAPE HENLOPEN STATE PARK – DNREC’s Divisions of Parks & Recreation and Fish & Wildlife announced today that stretches of ocean beach between Gordons Pond and Herring Point and beachfront along the oceanside of The Point on Cape Henlopen have now reopened following the end of a piping plover nesting season that produced 13 plover fledglings in Delaware. The last Gordons Pond Piping Plover chick recently fledged, allowing fencing erected to prevent disturbances to any beach-nesting birds in the area to be taken down. The beach is now accessible for fall surf-fishing, and in time for the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The bay side of The Point will remain closed until Oct. 1 to give refuge to the many species of migratory birds that pass through Delaware on their way to overwintering grounds to the south, said Anthony Gonzon, Division of Fish & Wildlife biodiversity program manager.

Although the beach-nesting bird breeding season has ended, surveys for the rare plant seabeach amaranth are continuing. Seabeach amaranth is a federally-threatened plant species under the Endangered Species Act. Searches of likely amaranth habitat are conducted in Delaware three times a year: in late July, mid-August and late August/early September.

This year, all of the known amaranth plants are located at The Point, with more than 30 plants observed since surveys began in July. No plants have been found between Gordons Pond and Herring Point, usually the most reliable location for finding them, but many of the plants on The Point have appeared outside of the typical fenced section of the dunes and overwashes, well above the high tide line.

Due to the annual variability of distribution of seabeach amaranth plants, an additional temporary fenced section along the ocean side of The Point has been installed parallel to the ocean and will be removed once these annual plants disperse their seed – likely to occur within three to four weeks. This temporary closure will allow the amaranth plants to complete their life cycle and help to sustain the plant population within Cape Henlopen while still allowing access to The Point by permitted vehicles for surf fishing.

With seabeach amaranth in mind, DNREC has closed dunes and overwashes to any human activity to protect sensitive and rare habitats. DNREC advises that surf-fishing vehicles should avoid parking in the restricted area in front of the temporary fencing, but may drive through on the beach along the ocean side of the fence. In addition, surf-fishermen should be aware that higher tides may be experienced during the next week. The possibility exists that surf fishing vehicles could be stranded when this occurs.

For more information, please contact Paul Faircloth, Cape Henlopen State Park superintendent, at 302-645-8983, or Anthony Gonzon, Division of Fish & Wildlife, at 302-735-3600.

About the piping plover
The piping plover was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1986, and the Division of Fish & Wildlife is responsible for its protection in Delaware. Under a binding agreement and subsequent species management plan that DNREC made in 1990 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the federal agency with oversight of this ESA-protected species, piping plover nesting areas at Cape Henlopen State Park are closed annually to the public to protect the shorebirds from disturbance during their nesting season which usually runs from March into September. This includes the Point and smaller areas around Gordons Pond. The closure has been successful, increasing the number of piping plover nesting pairs from a low of two pairs to a high of nine pairs, and must include feeding habitat as well as nesting areas. Piping plovers feed on small invertebrates that inhabit the intertidal zone near their nesting territories. Chicks are not fed by their parents, but rather are led to the shoreline to forage while the adults keep watch for potential threats. Allowing pedestrian traffic in the intertidal zone adjoining nesting areas would disturb the vital link between nesting and foraging habitat and risk adverse stress or mortality to the chicks.

About the seabeach amaranth
The seabeach amaranth is an annual plant the formerly ranged from Massachusetts to South Carolina. Rediscovered in Delaware in 2000 after a 125-year absence, this plant has been found on Delaware’s ocean beaches throughout Cape Henlopen State Park and Delaware Seashore State Park. Federally listed as threatened in 1993 under the Endangered Species Act, seabeach amaranth typically grows in open sand along the base of the primary foredunes or along undisturbed wrack lines high on the beach where seed may become trapped. Each year, plants may reoccur in the same locations or appear in new locations as a result of shifting sands and seed dispersal from varying weather conditions over the fall and winter seasons. As an annual plant, amaranth completes an entire life cycle in a single year’s growing season, flowering in mid to late summer, dispersing seed in late August and early September.

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 323


Piping plover pair renests at Gordons Pond

Three chicks take flight on the Point at Cape Henlopen

LEWES – A pair of piping plovers that lost their nest at Gordons Pond in Cape Henlopen State Park has regrouped and nested again within the park, with three eggs observed so far, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today. Another nest is still being incubated on the Point, with hatching expected over the next few days.

Three broods of piping plover chicks are continuing to forage on the Point, with one of the broods having fledged three chicks earlier this week, according to Division of Fish & Wildlife Biologist Matthew Bailey.

In other beachnesting bird news, the American oystercatcher nest on the Point is due to hatch this week, and least terns continue to defend their colony at Gordons Pond, Bailey added.

For more information about beachnesting birds and monitoring efforts, please contact Matthew Bailey at 302-382-4151 or email matthew.bailey@delaware.gov.

About the piping plover
The piping plover was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1986, and the Division of Fish & Wildlife is responsible for its protection in Delaware. Under a binding agreement and species management plan that DNREC made in 1990 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) – the federal agency with oversight of this ESA-protected species – piping plover nesting areas at Cape Henlopen State Park are closed annually to the public to protect the shorebirds from disturbance during their nesting season from March into September. The closure, which includes the Point and smaller areas around Gordons Pond and with both feeding habitat and nesting areas protected, has been successful, increasing the number of piping plover nesting pairs from a low of two pairs to a high of nine pairs. Piping plovers feed on small invertebrates that inhabit the intertidal zone near their nesting territories. Chicks are not fed by their parents, but rather are led to the shoreline to forage while the adults keep watch for potential threats. Allowing pedestrian traffic in the intertidal zone adjoining nesting areas would disturb the vital link between nesting and foraging habitat, and risks adverse stress or mortality to the chicks.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 237


Training for volunteer beachnesting bird monitors set May 14

LEWES – Volunteers who want to help protect Delaware’s endangered piping plovers and other beachnesting birds by joining DNREC’s monitoring team are invited to a training session from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 14, at Cape Henlopen State Park’s Biden Environmental Training Center, 15099 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes, DE 19958.

“With the strong storms that hit Delaware’s beaches over the winter, a lot of new habitat for beachnesting birds has opened up. It will be more important than ever that we have volunteer assistance in protecting their nesting habitat so that they can take full advantage of this opportunity to further increase their populations,” said Wildlife Biologist Matthew Bailey of the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Beachnester Monitoring Program.

The training session will begin with a slideshow followed by a discussion on the monitoring program and how volunteers can help to ensure that beachnesting shorebirds are not disturbed while rearing their chicks.

Weather permitting, the group will finish the session by venturing out to the Point at Cape Henlopen to look for piping plovers and other shorebirds likely to be feeding on the tidal flats. Birding scopes and binoculars will be available for use, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own optics if they have them.

“Volunteers are critical to our protection efforts. When stationed at the boundaries of the nesting areas, volunteers can help explain facts to passersby about the breeding birds and the importance of keeping closed areas free of human disturbance,” Bailey said. “Without volunteers to supplement the coverage our staff provides, many people might never have the chance to better understand how humans can make a difference in the breeding success of beachnesting birds.”

Preregistration for the training is encouraged, but attendees also will be accepted at the door. Park entrance fees will be waived for volunteers attending the training by notifying the fee booth attendant. For more information on the training, beachnesting birds or monitoring efforts, please contact Matthew Bailey at 302-382-4151 or email matthew.bailey@delaware.gov.

About the piping plover
The piping plover was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1986, and the Division of Fish and Wildlife is responsible for its protection in Delaware. Under a binding agreement and species management plan that DNREC made in 1990 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) – the federal agency with oversight of this ESA-protected species – piping plover nesting areas at Cape Henlopen State Park are closed annually to the public to protect the shorebirds from disturbance during their nesting season from March into September. The closure, which includes the Point and smaller areas around Gordon’s Pond and with both feeding habitat and nesting areas protected, has been successful, increasing the number of piping plover nesting pairs from a low of two pairs to a high of nine pairs. Piping plovers feed on small invertebrates that inhabit the intertidal zone near their nesting territories. Chicks are not fed by their parents, but rather are led to the shoreline to forage while the adults keep watch for potential threats. Allowing pedestrian traffic in the intertidal zone adjoining nesting areas would disturb the vital link between nesting and foraging habitat and risk adverse stress or mortality to the chicks.

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 160