September 2018 Wrack Line Newsletter

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FSA Partnership Meetings:

October 4: Panhandle Working Group in Panama City. Contact FSA Coordinator

October 4: Suncoast Partnership, 12-2 pm, Eckerd College. Contact Beth Forys

October 4: Volusia Partnership, 9am-12pm, Beach Safety HQ, Daytona Beach. Contact Jennifer Winters

October 9: Lee/Collier Partnerships, 1-4:30 pm, Rookery Bay ELC. Contact Adam Dinuovo

October 10: Southeast Partnership, 1-3pm, location TBD. Contact Natasha Warraich

October 11: St. John's/Flagler Partnership, 1-4pm, St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Contact Chris Farrell

October 15: Florida Keys Partnership, 1-3pm, Marathon Gvt. Center. Contact Tom Sweets.

October 23: Timucuan Partnership, 10am-1pm, Ribault Club, Jacksonville. Contact Blair Hayman.

October 25: Nature Coast Partnership, 1-4pm, Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve (new location). Contact Megan Wallrichs

October 25: Space Coast Partnership, 10am-12:30pm, Kiwanis Island Park, Merritt Island. Contact Anna Deyle


September 6: World Shorebirds Day

September 13: Shorebird Walk at Matanzas Inlet

September 15: International Coastal Cleanup

October 1: Florida Shorebird Data Entry Deadline

October 19-20: Florida Audubon Assembly

FSA News

Thank You!

It Takes a Village to Raise the Birds

The 2018 shorebird and seabird breeding season is coming to a close.  Another season of hard won gains for some of Florida's most charismatic coastal inhabitants.  As most of our partners know, many of the breeding shorebirds in Florida are management dependent.  Without an army of well-orchestrated stewards, rooftop monitors, route surveyors, biologists, law enforcement officers, and nesting-site sign posters, the birds would have a very difficult time surviving on Florida's busy beaches.   

To all of the volunteers, land managers, interns, students, officers, shorebird staff, partnership coordinators, curious beachgoers, and countless others "THANK YOU" for your ongoing dedication to raising another generation of Florida's beach-nesting birds. 

The September issue of the Wrack Line highlights just a few of the people who make it possible for the birds to succeed.  There's even a tale of interspecies rearing that was caught on camera this season.  Without the vast network of Florida Shorebird Alliance partners hard at work each season, we would have very different stories to tell.  In every way, your dedication is priceless.  We hope you take time to celebrate your success this season!

Jean Rolke

As Anchor Steward, Jean Rolke is Key to Success in St. Johns Partnership

The St. Johns/Flagler Shorebird Partnership has always enjoyed a core group of volunteers eager to help local shorebirds.  With increased nesting last year due to gains in habitat (from hurricanes and nourishment projects), we would have been hard pressed to meet our stewarding needs.  Fortunately, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funding allowed us to hire Jean Rolke as the first Anchor Steward in Northeast Florida.  Jean was a seasoned shorebird volunteer – spending previous seasons stewarding, performing surveys, and monitoring rooftops.  Jean brought her enthusiasm for shorebirds to the new position, recruiting new volunteers and ensuring ample stewards for our large colony at Anastasia State Park.  Not only did the park fledge almost 200 least terns, it also had black skimmer nests – the first in over 30 years in St. Johns County.

This year, additional nourishment had us primed for another great nesting season at Anastasia State Park.  The long nesting area required additional stewards and Jean worked hard to recruit and retain volunteers.  Jean hosted “on-the-beach” trainings and paired new stewards with experienced ones to ensure all volunteers were prepared and comfortable in their role.  Jean also worked closely with park staff, county staff, and FWC to ensure volunteers were supported and disturbance issues were addressed.  During the July 4th holiday Jean was a whirlwind of activity.  She sat up chairs, umbrellas, signs, and scopes in the morning at several locations, kept in contact with folks, made sure stewards were prepared for their shifts, and stewarded at any locations in need of help.  If this weren’t enough, she also created and delivered care packages to the stewards filled with snacks, sunscreen, and lip balm!  This attention was rewarded with many least tern and Wilson’s plover fledges, plus seven fledged black skimmer young this year.  We appreciate the hard work of all of our volunteers, plus send a special thanks to Jean for her incredible commitment to our shorebirds!

Rick & Tori

Sea Turtle Trackers Are a Big Help to Shorebirds

This year our important beach nesting bird sites received an extra hand from some amazing partners.  Sea Turtle Trackers in Pinellas County helped protect one of the most diverse and successful shorebird nesting sites in Pinellas County this season, Outback Key.  Sea Turtle Trackers helped purchase lumber, checked on posting, kept a watchful eye on the nesting birds, and even gave shorebird monitors rides.  Shorebird monitors in turn, helped the Sea Turtle Trackers by keeping an eye out for crawls and marking any new nests.  Shorebirds also received incredible support from sea turtle interns like Ricky and Tori (photo), at Cayo Costa State Park, who helped shorebird biologists find and post an American oystercatcher nest, and keep a watchful eye out for new nests and roving chicks. 

These are just two examples, and there are many more all over Florida, some we may never know about.  Often sea turtle monitors are on the beach and gone before the sun sneaks over the horizon.  What we do see are the impressions that are left on the beach: a newly marked sea turtle nest, footprints following a false crawl, or the faint impressions of cautious ATV tracks already being washed away by the tide.  Shorebird and sea turtle monitors watch out for each other, but because our schedules are so different we rarely get a chance to see and thank one another.

As the Florida Shorebird Alliance grows, so does our connection with fellow beach conservationists, and we in the shorebird world want to pause and say "thank you".  Thank you to all the sea turtle monitors, interns and volunteers for taking time out of your hectic days to call us and let us know that you found a Wilson’s plover nest, that the snowy plover chicks are doing great, and that you have our backs and fixed some posting.  Thank you for your time, resources and help in getting partners to remote sites.  Thank you for everything you do, not only for beach nesting birds, but for sea turtles and our precious beaches.  Lastly, thank you for being an invaluable Florida Shorebird Alliance partner! 

Miranda Anaya

Miranda Anaya, UWF Graduate and Audubon Steward, Is a Shorebird Superstar

Miranda Anaya was Audubon’s Pensacola Beach Seabird Steward for the 2018 breeding season.  Her responsibilities included surveying for nesting Least Terns and Black Skimmers along 6 miles of Pensacola Beach, University of West Florida property and small pockets of sand along the developed barrier island.  In addition to surveys, she posted active nesting sites, organized volunteers to steward nesting areas, and reached out to the community to educate them about imperiled bird species.  Most remarkably, she always did this with a smile. 

Miranda joined Audubon during the fall/winter of 2017 as a winter survey volunteer and to receive field work credit through the University of West Florida.  Miranda turned out to be a superstar volunteer and Audubon was lucky enough to recruit her as a seasonal employee during the 2018 seabird breeding season.  We are proud of her for receiving her Environmental Management degree from UWF this August.  Since breeding season is nearly complete and she has graduated, Miranda will be seeking permanent employment. You can help us thank her by sending jobs leads her way. She comes with stellar references.  

Thank you for your hard work and dedication, Miranda!

FSD banner

FSD Updates

2018 FSD closed

As we move into September, the breeding season is coming to an end.  And speaking of things ending, now is the time to finish entering your data into the FSD before it closes on October 1!  

If you have any questions or need assistance, please reach out to your partnerships or email us.  We are more than happy to help along the way.  As always, if you experience any malfunctions with the FSD website, we encourage you to report them. Your feedback helps us create a better website! 

Completing data entry by October 1 makes it possible for YOUR data to be included in summaries for post-season partnership meetings, and into our long-term analyses.

Thank you for being an essential partner in the shorebird monitoring program! 

Ebb Tidings


Surrogate Snowy Plover Helps Least Tern Chick Survive

Critical Wildlife Area Biologist, Britt Brown, expects to see the occasional unusual beach activity, but this year was truly exceptional.  While surveying, she noticed that an adult female snowy plover was protecting something unusual: a least tern chick!  Turns out, the snowy plover had taken over a least tern nest and incubated it until one egg hatched.  Britt didn't think the eggs looked quite right for a snowy plover nest, but the bird was attached nonetheless.  A nearby snowy plover nest was abandoned around the time that the bird started incubating the tern eggs, so it's possible that the broody adult was simply confused.  In any event, she ended up briefly raising an unexpected child!  Below, you can see the adult snowy plover brooding the tern chick, as well as the chick begging for food.  Thankfully, the chick was adopted by another least tern brood, and we believe it went on to fledge successfully.  It goes to show that we must continually adapt our expectations of these extraordinary birds! 

Photos by Britt Brown: snowy plover brooding least tern chick; snowy plover with hungry chick; least tern chick adopted by a new least tern brood