Eight piping plover chicks fledged this season
at Cape Henlopen, beachnesting bird monitors report
Oceanside beach at the Point to reopen for Labor Day weekend
LEWES (Aug. 27, 2014) – With beachnesting bird season winding down and migratory shorebirds passing through, beachnesting bird monitors reported that six pairs of piping plovers fledged eight chicks this season, four on the Point and four at Gordons Pond at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes.
Two of this season’s nesting plovers might stand as evidence supporting long-held speculation among biologists that plovers that nest in Delaware will return to breed here again in the future. In the last few years, several banding studies conducted in Atlantic Coast states used colored plastic leg bands in unique combinations on the plovers that allow observers to identify individual birds without having to recapture them.
“This season we had two piping plovers nesting in Delaware that had been banded in New Jersey, one in 2012 and one in 2013,” said Wildlife Biologist Matthew Bailey of the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Next year, we’ll be watching to see if our two banded plovers return to Delaware to nest.”
Meanwhile, seabeach amaranth, a rare plant, is having a good season in the beach parks, with about 75 plants found between Tower Road and Faithful Steward Crossing in Delaware Seashore State Park, and about 10 plants scattered throughout the Point and Gordons Pond at Cape Henlopen State Park. This species, like the piping plover, is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Seabeach amaranth grows in the same kinds of habitat where piping plovers nest and usually begins sprouting in July in Delaware.
The dunes and interdunal areas at Gordons Pond and the Point remain closed to the public year-round to protect seabeach amaranth plants and numerous other rare species and plant communities that exist in these areas.
The oceanside beach at the Point will reopen by Labor Day weekend, while the bayside beach will remain closed until October.
For more information about beachnesting birds or monitoring efforts, please contact Wildlife Biologist Matt Bailey at 302-382-4151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, where Cape Henlopen is its only current nesting area. 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 March to September nesting season, including the Point and smaller areas around Gordon’s Pond. The closure, which must include feeding habitat as well as nesting areas, 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.