DNREC to Offer Training For Volunteer Beach-nesting Bird Monitors

A piping plover forages along a Delaware beach in spring of 2020 /DNREC photo

 

Important Effort For Helping to Protect Endangered and Threatened Birds

Volunteers wanting to help protect Delaware’s beach-nesting birds, including federally-listed threatened piping plovers and state-listed endangered American oystercatchers, are invited to join a training session held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 7 at the Cape Henlopen State Park Officers Club (Youth Camp III) Mess Hall located at 15099 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes 19958, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today.

The volunteer training session, offered by the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife beach-nesting bird monitoring program, will begin with light refreshments and a slideshow presentation, followed by a discussion about the monitoring program and how volunteers can help to ensure that beach-nesting shorebirds are not disturbed while nesting and rearing their chicks during the summer months. Weather permitting, the group will finish the training 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 and valued component of the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife’s conservation efforts. Stationed on the boundaries of the bird nesting areas, volunteers explain to beachgoers the importance of closing sections of the beach to prevent human disturbance thus helping increase the nesting success of the birds.

Pre-registration for the training is encouraged, but volunteer walk-ups also will be accepted for training as beach-nesting bird monitors. Cape Henlopen State Park entrance fees will be waived for volunteers attending the training. For more information on the training, beach-nesting birds, or volunteer monitoring efforts, visit de.gov/pipingplovers or contact DNREC Coastal Avian Biologist Henrietta Bellman by emailing deshorebirds@delaware.gov.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 68,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov; Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov


Piping Plovers Experience Poor Nest Productivity Year in Delaware

A banded piping plover male photographed in mid-July at Cape Henlopen State Park on Delaware’s Atlantic coast/DNREC photo.

 

DNREC Provides Updates on Other Beach-Nesting Bird Species

Beach-nesting piping plovers experienced poor nest productivity on their breeding grounds in Delaware during 2021, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today in summarizing the rare shorebird species’ nesting success within the state.

Six pairs of piping plovers were recorded nesting at The Point at Cape Henlopen State Park with 18 more nesting pairs at Fowler Beach on Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, making for a modern-day record total of 24 breeding pairs. Despite the record number of breeding pairs, piping plovers were less successful in producing only 19 fledglings, young birds that hatched and can fly in leaving their nest. Poor fledgling productivity is suspected to be the result of nest loss from a Memorial Day storm and higher-than-average predation at Fowler Beach.

Record piping plover productivity was documented in Delaware over the previous three years for the federally-listed threatened species and Delaware state-listed endangered species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established a goal of 1.5 fledglings per breeding pair in 1996 as part of the piping plover recovery plan, with Delaware’s nesting productivity exceeding that goal from 2018 to 2020. This year, the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife recorded 19 fledglings, for a productivity rate of 0.8 fledglings per breeding pair. In 2020, 21 breeding pairs were documented, producing 47 fledglings for a productivity rate of 2.2 fledglings/pair.

Delaware’s piping plover recovery effort involves partnerships between DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife and Division of Parks and Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.

In other beach-nesting bird species nesting season updates, two pairs of American oystercatchers nested at The Point at Cape Henlopen State Park while one pair nested at Delaware Seashore State Park. Although the nest successfully hatched at Delaware Seashore State Park, the chicks did not fledge. A pair of American oystercatchers were observed using the marsh islands of Delaware Seashore State Park and were seen with two chicks that appear to have successfully fledged. Least tern counts were lower than recent years, with only four breeding pairs and four nests found at Cape Henlopen State Park, where only two chicks hatched, and neither of them fledged.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 68,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov, or Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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Piping Plovers Nesting in Delaware Reach New High Number

Over 50 Fledglings for Third Record Year, Above Species Recovery Goal

For the third consecutive year, Delaware recorded a new all-time high number of nesting piping plovers, small beach nesting birds on Delaware’s state endangered list. DNREC’s piping plover monitoring program tracked 21 nesting piping plover pairs that produced approximately 51 fledglings, young birds that can fly. This productivity rate of 2.4 fledglings per pair is well above the long-term goal of 1.5 fledglings per pair for piping plover recovery established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Aiding in the recovery of threatened or endangered species, like the piping plover, is a key component of DNREC’s wildlife conservation mission,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “With a third record-breaking year for piping plover fledglings, these small endangered beach nesters are on their way to becoming one of Delaware’s conservation success stories.”

Five pairs of piping plovers nested at the Point at Cape Henlopen State Park and 16 pairs nested at Fowler Beach on Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. For the fourth 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 Delaware state-listed endangered species. Recovery of the species involves partnerships between DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife and Division of Parks and Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Wildlife Services.

In other beach nesting bird updates, two pairs of American oystercatchers nested at the Point at Cape Henlopen State Park and two pairs nested at Delaware Seashore State Park, but none successfully hatched chicks. Fifty-nine least tern nests were found, 24 at Cape Henlopen State Park and 35 at Fowler Beach on Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge that collectively produced eight fledglings.

During beach nesting bird monitoring this year, the Division of Fish and Wildlife implemented COVID-19 safety precautions to protect staff and the public while working to conserve Delaware’s wildlife.

For more information, visit piping-plovers and other beach nesting birds.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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DNREC reports nine piping plover pairs incubating nests at Cape Henlopen’s Point and Fowler Beach

LEWES – With summer just around the corner, beachnesting birds are in full breeding mode, with piping plover and American oystercatcher nests increasing their Delaware numbers and least terns making nest scrapes, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife announced today.

On the Point at Cape Henlopen, five pairs of piping plovers are incubating nests, with four more nests on Fowler Beach at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Another piping plover pair also is setting up a territory at Gordons Pond in Cape Henlopen State Park.

“With nine known piping plover nests at the same time, we are close to tying – or maybe even breaking – the record of 10 pairs nesting in a single year,” said Wildlife Research Assistant Kevin Bronson, Division of Fish & Wildlife.

In addition, two American oystercatcher nests have been found on Fowler Beach, along with three oystercatcher nests on Middle Island in the Inland Bays.

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 an agreement and species management plan with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DNREC closes piping plover nesting areas to the public at Cape Henlopen State Park annually to protect these small shorebirds during their nesting season from March into September. The closure, which includes both feeding habitat and nesting areas at the Point and around Gordon’s Pond, has been successful, increasing the number of nesting piping plovers from a low of two pairs to a high of 10 pairs.

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

Vol. 47, No. 119

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First piping plover nest of the season found at Cape Henlopen – and an American oystercatcher nest, too

LEWES – Recent wet weather has not deterred beachnesting birds from beginning their nesting season at Cape Henlopen State Park – with this year’s first piping plover nest found late last week on the Point, along with an American oystercatcher nest also discovered there.

“We estimate that there are four or five pairs of plovers that have set up territories at Cape Henlopen State Park so far, which is right in line with the schedule the plovers have kept to in previous years,” said Wildlife Biologist Matthew Bailey of the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Beachnester Monitoring Program. “One of our best tools for finding plover nests is following the birds’ tracks, which can lead a plover monitor to eggs nestled in a small dent in the sand. The current weather conditions have made the sand too wet for plovers to leave tracks, so there may be more nests out there still waiting to be discovered.”

With beach season coming soon, Bailey added that “Plover Patrol” volunteers are needed to help protect Delaware’s endangered piping plovers and other beachnesting birds. Anyone interested in joining DNREC’s beachnester monitoring team is 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.

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 nesting and rearing their chicks. Weather permitting, the group will head out to the Point at Cape Henlopen to look for piping plovers and other shorebirds. Birding scopes and binoculars will be available for use, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own optics if they have them.

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. 168