Audubon

Oystercatchers and Jetty Patchers

See video at bottom of page.

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Last year’s oystercatcher hatchlings…fresh out of the shell, right

In the past much wildlife in our New York region had been diminished severely due to many factors.  But lately due to many factors there has been a delightful “tern” of events.

Ospreys are common, even eagles are spotted. Seals, dolphins, even breaching whales have brought leaping joy to boardwalk onlookers. Yes, I’ve actually seen boardwalk rail ladies leap at the sight of them.

Now,  the oystercatchers of Long Beach have been nesting here for several years.

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They also nest on the beaches east and west of us. But our Long Beach shore is the busiest beach around so it is quite a marvel that these red beaked beauties annually come to form two nests among us flightless co-denizens of the shore. And they build their nests right out in the middle of the sand.

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A failed attempt by a teen to recover a frisbee from the protected zone

The City of Long Beach’s Beach Maintenance Dept. has been alert to these nest placements and have put orange cones around the nests. These cones alerted passing beachgoers and beach vehicles of the presence of these vulnerable creatures. At one point Beach Maintenance even provided a “string fence” of cones to help even further.

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The cone string fence wasn’t always successful but it was a compassionate effort

At other times Beach Maintenance placed much better string fencing using stakes, even signage. ( Correction: I’m informed that it was not the City of Long Beach which placed the string fence and signage but the Town of Hempstead Dept of Conservation and Waterways. The City of Long Beach took the fencing down in favor of the cones. That’s why the South Shore Audubon Soc got involved. The SS Audubon Soc. believes the City of Long Beach will take measures to better protect the oystercatchers.)

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The Town of Hempstead Dept of Cons and Waterways provided string fence and signage to protect nests

But some bird lovers wanted more consistency. So, over the winter, Jim Brown, Brien Weiner Conservation Co-chairs of the South Shore Audubon Society and I, met with the Long Beach Public Works Dept. Commissioner, John Mirando.

Jim and Brien provided some valuable suggestions that have worked in the past in other bird venues, string/streamer fencing using metal stakes and signage on all nesting areas. Even recommending preferred distances from nest to perimeter.

Commissioner Mirando was in complete agreement and related how Long Beach has been a protector of our oystercatchers in the preceding years and he assured us that these suggestions would be adopted. He did seem to me to be very cooperative and eager to help further.

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But now the challenge is even greater for our oystercatchers as the Army Corps of Engineers(ACOE) and its contractor is renovating our beach. The ACOE is rebuilding our jetties, and placing dunes and berms that will help to mitigate the threat of storm surges that have wreaked havoc on Long Beach in the past. All of us remember…Sandy.

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Today bulldozers, cranes and trucks rumble everywhere; sand fence “roads” have been erected where there had been open sand. But these are all necessary to accomplish the task.

DSC_9218.jpgBut concerned bird lovers were asking if our nesters would be protected by our City by the Sea as well as the City is being protected by the ACOE and its contractor.

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So, we’ve been in contact once again with the the Public Works Dept. and once again we are assured that the ACOE and its contractor would not interfere with our oystercatchers. Commissioner Miranda pointed out that perhaps the annual return of the  oystercatchers shows how the city’s efforts are working to help sustain them.

This beach work is extremely important. We are all very aware of that. Many millions of dollars are being spent on behalf of Long Beach residents and Long Island as well. The beach is an important economic engine for the City of Long Beach and the city in turn is a significant resource of Long Island and NY State.

So of course we must protect our residents against the surging sea. But we must also protect these vulnerable creatures from collateral damage of surging progress.

To protect those creatures who are the most vulnerable amongst us speaks of what we humans are made. And maybe that message will carry over in improving how we help the most vulnerable among our own species.

The City of Long Beach needs to be thanked for it’s past cooperation in this effort and also its promise to continue to do so. Our Long Beach oystercatcher nests have become as iconic to Long Beach as its boardwalk which provides a handsome balcony for visitors to view the greatest show on sand…the birth of chicks.

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The oystercatchers have once again returned to Long Beach and are currently mating. We eagerly await their coming nests. With the new construction, they and Long Beach are faced with a challenge. But I’m thinking both will prevail.

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I recently visited a pair about to hopefully nest. It resulted in a demonstration of what I call, Habitation Synchronization. Here’s the video:

Be well,
Leebythesea

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