Nature Notes: Non-breeding season ends and nesting season begins for shorebirds | Native Information

The season for non-breeding shorebirds is formally over on the Texas higher coast. From August to March, the Gulf Coast Fowl Observatory carried out non-breeding shorebird surveys for Matagorda Seashore, Bryan Seashore, Quintana Seashore, Follet Island, and Surfside Seashore. The goal species we targeted on have been the piping plover, snow plover, purple knot, black skimmer, and American oystercatcher.

Beginning subsequent week, the Gulf Coast Fowl Observatory will concentrate on nesting birds on the seashore. We can be looking ahead to Wilson’s plover, lesser terns and black skimmers for pairs, nests and chicks. We’ll solely be finding out two websites this 12 months, Matagorda Seashore and Sargent Seashore. Sargent Seashore is a brand new website, and we’re very completely satisfied to incorporate it this season.

This final non-breeding season has been very lively with hurricanes and tropical storms. We have now had three main storms: Hurricane Laura, Tropical Storm Beta, and Hurricane Delta. These brought about flooding, excessive tides and particles which blocked entry to a few of our survey areas. Hurricane Laura in August brought about essentially the most injury to all of our examine websites and all of our seashores have been closed for a substantial time frame. Nearly all of protecting dune habitat has been lowered consequently.

As a result of tropical storm beta in September, the easternmost a part of Follet Island was closed to autos attributable to particles, sidewalk injury and building work to assist restore the dunes. Fortunate for us, we obtained permission to make use of our UTV to proceed watching this a part of the seashore. The Colorado River Mouth Flats Lagoon in Matagorda has been inundated for a lot of the season, leaving solely a small portion for plovers and black skimmers. Extra goal species have been seen in direction of the top of the season when the lagoon began to dry out and the sand and mudflats have been uncovered.

On the Matagorda Peninsula and Isle Follet, excessive numbers of birds, particularly piping plovers and snow plovers, have been noticed. Regardless of the freeze in mid-February, we continued to see excessive numbers. These two websites represent important migratory and wintering habitat for our goal species. We noticed and reported 49 reported piping plovers, two banded snow plovers and 20 banded American oystercatchers. Most piping plovers got here from the Nice Plains area, together with North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, and Nebraska. Two have been banded right here in Texas and one was from the Nice Lakes area. Only a few purple knots have been noticed this season.

We additionally monitored disturbances and threats resembling autos, folks, canines and balloons. Initially of the season, we confronted a number of cases of autos passing via our protected space, the Colorado River Mouth Flats, disrupting our goal species and destroying our posts and fences within the course of. Balloons are a serious risk to wildlife, as animals usually get tangled of their ribbons or mistake them for meals. This season, we collected over 900 balloons. Nearly all of the balloons collected got here from Valentine’s Day or birthdays.

The entire species we’ve talked about are thought-about threatened or of very excessive concern. Keep in mind to fish, swim and play 50 yards, drive safely, and preserve canines on a leash. It isn’t solely the breeding season for nesting birds on the seashore, but additionally the nesting season for sea turtles. On behalf of the Gulf Coast Fowl Observatory, thanks for studying.

Taylor Bennett graduated from Outdated Dominion College with a Bachelor of Science in Biology specializing in Marine Biology, and conducts shorebird surveys alongside the higher Texas coast. GCBO is a non-profit group devoted to saving birds and their habitats throughout the Gulf Coast and past of their wintering grounds in Central and South America.

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