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Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds

RTPI is proud to be a partner with Audubon Connecticut for the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds‘ (AAfCW) sixth season in 2017, an active conservation, education and outreach project that provides stewardship and survey efforts by volunteers and staff working to help the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) in an innovative joint initiative on Connecticut’s beaches, islands, and other coastal areas to monitor birds like the federally threatened Piping Plover, Red Knot and endangered Roseate Tern, Connecticut state-listed species like the American Oystercatcher, Common and Least Tern and many more. Our incredibly successful 2014 season included an all-time record high number of fledged Piping Plovers for Connecticut with 116 birds aided by our volunteers, partners and staff. Results from the phenomenal 2015 season indicate we had the second highest number of fledged chicks ever at 112, right behind our own 2014 record.

We also set the all-time record number of breeding pairs of Piping Plovers for the state in 2015 at 62, but we broke this record in 2016 with 63 pairs! These birds produced 87 fledged chicks for a productivity rate of 1.38 chicks per pair, well above the federal recovery goal of 1.2 chicks per pair. High tide events, storms, predators and unfortunate human incidents all led to a decline in fledged chicks from the previous two seasons, but it was nevertheless the fourth highest total ever for our state.

Piping Plover hatchling

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) hatchling

American Oystercatcher pair

American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) pair

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Red Knots (Calidris canutus) in front of Black-bellied Plovers

RTPI’s President & Executive Director Twan Leenders and Conservation & Outreach Coordinator Scott Kruitbosch were a part of AAfCW’s creation during their time in Connecticut and are thrilled to be back on board for RTPI’s fourth year as a partner alongside Audubon Connecticut. The Connecticut Audubon Society has also rejoined AAfCW for the 2017 season.

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Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) migratory flock

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Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) adult

Volunteer shorebird monitors are trained in March each year by CT DEEP and AAfCW staff. They, along with seasonal and full-time AAfCW and CT DEEP field staff, visit over a dozen sites across Connecticut on a daily basis from April 1 through August 31 or beyond. Well over 100 sites are surveyed in Connecticut each year. They are tasked with surveying for waterbird species, helping to erect string fencing and signage around nesting areas on CT DEEP established dates, educating beachgoers about the importance of this avian conservation, reporting disturbances or other critical information and submitting their bird data and information to us, among other duties.

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String fencing and signage surrounding Piping Plover nesting area

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We have children design signs like this one at Sandy/Morse Points in West Haven

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Student sign for the American Oystercatcher

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Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) pair

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Great Egret (Ardea alba) one of the long-legged wader species we also monitor and assist

AAfCW started in the 2012 field season with Scott working as the AAfCW Volunteer Coordinator overseeing dozens and now hundreds of those volunteers on a daily basis. Now based in Connecticut at the wonderful for waterbirds and spectacular Stratford Point in Stratford, Scott continued this role through RTPI in 2014 through 2017. You can join AAfCW and volunteer by emailing us at ctwaterbirds@gmail.com or learn more information by emailing Scott at skruitbosch@rtpi.org.

AAfCW blog: http://ctwaterbirds.blogspot.com/
AAfCW Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/AudubonAlliance

Here are important documents for the project available for viewing or download and use as an AAfCW volunteer:
Online Data Submission Form
Piping Plover Brochure
American Oystercatcher Brochure
Connecticut Dog Laws & Who To Contact
Breeding Bird Survey Codes
Incident Report Form
USFWS How To Be A Good Witness
USFWS Volunteer Services Agreement
USFWS Volunteer Information Sheet
USFWS Volunteer Safety Training Certification
USFWS Volunteer Shorebird Monitor Position Description
USFWS Training PowerPoint Presentation
CT DEEP Piping Plover Fact Sheet
CT DEEP Least Tern Fact Sheet
CT DEEP Piping Plover/Least Tern Aging Guide
CT DEEP Identifying Common Shorebirds Pamphlet
Ducks At A Distance Identification Guide

Common Tern with fish

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

Thank you to all of our tremendous volunteers! None of this could happen without your constant assistance and tireless efforts throughout the season.