Saturday, March 31, 2007

they're back

Right on schedule, the piping plovers are back on Plum Island. Well, at least two of them are. Tom Wetmore reported them to the massbird list on Tuesday. I haven't been to the beach yet -- plover warden coverage starts April 1 and my first shift isn't until April 6 because I've just got too much on my plate right now. That hasn't stopped me from obsessing about predation by crows, which is a major problem across river at Crane's Beach.

The link to the Salem News article about the plans for dealing with the crows at Crane's seems to be unreachable so here is a link to the same story as picked up by a Texas newspaper. Basically, the Trustees of Reservations are going to have sharpshooters shoot the crows. They're also doing away with predator exclosures, which crows have learned to associate with plover chicks available for eating. They're going to poison the gulls (let's hope they use a better poison than the infamous Monomoy gull-poisoning project). No word on what they're going to do about the mammalian predators like skunks and foxes, which used to be foiled by the predator exclosures.

I haven't heard yet whether the refuge is also going to abandon predator exclosures. I didn't go to the orientation this year (it's optional for returning volunteers) so if that was mentioned I didn't hear it. I will find out when the biological staff finds the first nests, I guess.


LauraHinNJ said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Janet. Will have to check back with you as your plover season progresses. I think I may actually have come across your old blog site at one time or another in the past few years.

Interesting about the crows being a heavy predator for plovers - that surprises me! Is that a local thing or typical? I don't often see crows at the beach here.

Janet Egan said...

I think the crow problem is local to Essex County, not even all of Massachusetts. We either have extra smart crows here or it's just that there are an awful lot of them so some are bound to be nasty.