HELPING PIPING PLOVERS AND A HUGE SHOUT OUT TO GREENBELT’S DAVE RIMMER AND DAVE MCKINNON

Help arrived for the Piping Plovers yesterday afternoon when Greenbelt’s Dave McKinnon installed the symbolic posts and informative signage. Roping will come next week, but at the very least, cordoning off the nesting area informs the community to tread lightly and where to keep out. Two nesting areas have been identified. The signs are posted between boardwalk 3 and the footbridge, as well as between boardwalks 1 and 2.

So many thanks to Dave Rimmer and Dave McKinnon. I happened to meet up with them yesterday morning and initially Dave R. thought they would not be able to help until next week. What great relief when I read the email from Dave R. that Dave M. would be back later in the day to install the posts and signs!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

REMINDER: TOMORROW IS AN OFF LEASH SATURDAY, WHICH IS GOING TO BE VERY, VERY TOUGH ON THE PIPING PLOVERS. PLEASE DOG OWNERS, IF YOUR DOG IS NOT UNDER VOICE COMMAND, THEN THE RULE IS, THE DOG IS NOT ALLOWED ON THE BEACH. PLEASE TRY TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS THREATENED SPECIES OF SHOREBIRDS NEEDS EVERYONE’S HELP. THANK YOU!

I wrote the above because yesterday I got a very disturbing call from a friend, a person who is usually mild mannered and not easily angered. He was calling to say that he had just observed a woman with her “birder” dog chasing the Plovers up and down the beach over and over again. When he spoke with her about the Plovers, she said she was aware of the threatened birds, but that she couldn’t control her dog because he “was having a bad day.” All I can write, is please, please, please do not allow your dog to chase the Piping Plovers. It may be fun and games for you and your dog, but allowing the PiPl to nest is a matter of survival for these beautiful and tiniest of shorebirds.

Two adorable sweet dogs, off leash today, on an on leash day.

Currently there are four PiPl at Good Harbor Beach. One very bonded pair (excellent possibility that it is our Mama and Papa Plover from the past two summers) and two unattached males. The above photo is of one of the two bachelors.

4 comments

  • Thanks to all who are helping to protect these vulnerable creatures. And shame on dog owners who say they can’t control their dogs because they (dog or owner?) are having a bad day. I’d guess they are the same ones who leave poop on lawns and sidewalks and in parks, where they assume it doesn’t matter, or no one will see, or ??? I pity these sweet red-vested dogs who don’t get enough true love and caring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree smmeurling, it’s the same owners. So sadly weird–the other day I was filming on the beach. A sweet looking young couple and their dog strolled by. I continued filming the shorebirds when I looked up to see their dog go poop. The guy walked right up to the poop and I thought great, he’s going to do the right thing, but nope, he just looked at the poop for a brief moment and then walked on.

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  • It would be a big help all around if anyone who “sees something says something” … to Animal Control! There are literally thousands of dog owners in Gloucester and also many tourists with dogs too. A tiny fraction of a percent of these people are wreaking havoc for all of us. As a group, people who love dogs generally love other creatures too. We are allies in the efforts to help the plovers and preserve the dunes, but we can only do so much. Same goes for Animal Control. We need the people who see problems with dogs on Good Harbor to step up and speak to those dog owners and, if that doesn’t work, report them. Anyone who has photos and, especially license plate numbers,should turn these over to the police. The police often say that they need concerned citizens to be their “eyes and ears.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I agree Linda, it is not a large group of dog owners, but just one dog and/or person disturbing the nesting sites is one too many.

      Despite the case that posts were in place for Saturday’s off leash day, it was a complete disaster for the Piping Plovers.

      When I was there early in the morning yesterday there was a large group of dog owners by the Good Harbor Beach Inn area and the dogs were playing by the water’s edge, away from the nesting sites, and it was wonderful to see.

      At noon I stopped by for a quick look, in between a meeting and babysitting and it was a complete and utter disaster. There were dozens of dogs and people frolicking WITHIN the nesting areas, as if the posts were invisible. The nesting areas were so full of people and dogs, one of the pairs of PiPl had been driven into the parking lot and were trying to make nest scrapes in the gravel. Heartbreaking to see.

      My husband and I put up roping as soon as I was done babysitting. We did not have enough rope for both areas and will be back today to rope off the second area. Hopefully the ropes will help.

      Perhaps because of climate change, and reasons not fully understood, for the third year in a row, we now have a beautiful species of shorebird nesting at Good Harbor Beach. This year they arrived on April 3rd. Piping Plovers are a federally threatened species and it is our responsibility to do all that is humanly possible to insure their safety.

      We live in coastal Massachusetts, which means we also have a responsibility in the chain of migration along the Atlantic Flyway to do our part to help all wildlife, particularly endangered wildlife.

      Wouldn’t it be tremendous if the dog friendly people would help change the Gloucester leash laws to restrict dogs from our barrier beaches, Good Harbor Beach (and Wingaersheek, too, if birds begin nesting there as well), beginning April 1st?

      Much, much better signage is needed as well as a wholehearted information campaign. And better enforcement of the current laws would be of great help as well however if the laws are written such that dogs are allowed on the beaches during the month of April, which is the beginning of nesting season, then we are not being good stewards of species at risk.

      It may be helpful for people to understand that the earlier the PiPl are allowed to nest, the earlier the chicks will be born, and the greater their chance of survival. Yesterday morning one pair mated and the female helped the male dig a nest, which means we could see eggs very soon.

      If the eggs and nest are destroyed, the nesting cycle will begin all over again and we will have chicks born over Fiesta weekend, with day-old chicks running around the beach on July 4th. I

      If the PiPl begin laying eggs now and it takes about another month for hatching from the time the first egg is laid, the chicks would be a month old by the time July 4th arrives and GHB is packed.

      As far as speaking to dog owners, that is exactly what my friend did and as I said, he was told the dog was having a bad day. I cannot tell you how many times I have had terrible things said to me when I have tried to speak to people about keeping their dogs away from the PiPl nesting sites. Most folks do not want to be told that their dog cannot play there. Rather than calling the dog officer, which its usually too late by the time they arrive, the dog officers should be stationed at the beach at key times, on weekends, and after five pm, for example.

      I believe that as a community we can work together to help the Piping Plovers, as was done last year. It took a tremendous effort by a fabulous group of volunteers. The hardest thing that the volunteers had to deal with were the seemingly endless encounters with scofflaw dog owners. Especially difficult were the sunrise and sunset shifts because folks think they can get away with ignoring the leash laws at those times of day.

      Now that we know the Piping Plovers are here this early in the season, better rules, signage and more information need to be in place in the future. Gloucester is not the only coastal Massachusetts area this year experiencing early arriving PiPl. We can also learn much from other communities.

      Like

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