April Wrack Line Newsletter

Least tern adults


April 7, 7pm: Black Skimmers of Clearwater Beach. Register here.

April 17, 1pm: Florida Ornithological Society Spring Meeting. Information here.

April 19, 7pm: Black Skimmers of St. Pete Beach. Register here. 

Beach Stewardship Training:

April 7, 10am: Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties. Email Caroline Stahala.

April 9, 10am: Timucuan partnership training. Email Chris Farrell.

April 12, 7pm: Lido Key. Register here. 

April 14, 1pm: St. Johns partnership training. Email Chris Farrell.

April 22, 7pm: 3 Rooker Island. Register here. 

May 10, 7pm: Pinellas County Beaches. Register here. 

June 24, 7pm: July 4th Special Training (Pinellas and Sarasota counties). Register here. 


April 15 - 21 is the April count window for the Breeding Bird Protocol.  Whenever possible, weekly surveys are preferred for routes with active nesting; it helps capture information about peak counts. 

FSA News

Gaining Ground at Gomez Key

-Joe Marchionno, FWC-Florida Wildlife Research Institute

2020 was a challenging year for people and wildlife, including Florida’s shorebirds and seabirds. An example of the ongoing challenges coastal shorebirds face was published in the November 2020 Wrack Line. The article highlighted recent research on American oystercatcher habitat loss along Florida’s Big Bend. Previously, we reported that Gomez Key, an important site for breeding American oystercatchers along the Nature Coast, experienced a 60% loss in area between 1974 and 2016.

Gomez Key erosion between 1982-2017

Gomez Key erosion between 1982 - 2017

Although habitat loss is occurring along Florida’s coasts, there is a robust network of organizations collaborating on solutions to regain ground for imperiled species. Decades of monitoring by Nature Coast partners informed the development of several habitat enhancement and creation projects to benefit species that depend on the Nature Coast for survival, including the American oystercatcher.

One project, the Lone Cabbage Oyster Reef Restoration Project, restored degraded chains of oyster reefs in a way that provided ecosystem benefits to the entire Lower Suwannee River estuary including fish and wildlife habitats. Another project, the Cedar Key American Oystercatcher Roost Enhancement Project, enhanced two roost sites that are important to a large proportion of the wintering American oystercatcher population in the state. Both projects improved critical habitats for oystercatchers and increased our understanding of restoration strategies that are resilient to changing coastal conditions.

American oystercatcher by Maxis Gamez

A third habitat enhancement project, the Gomez Key Enhancement Project, is set to begin in the fall of 2021 and will be led by the FWC. The project aims to restore and conserve nesting and foraging habitat for American oystercatchers at this nesting site. There is a sense of urgency surrounding this restoration due to accelerated rates of erosion and habitat loss in the area. By integrating and adapting successful restoration strategies, the project will prevent erosion, promote oyster recolonization, and expand and elevate potential oystercatcher nesting habitat.

Long-term monitoring data for nesting oystercatchers at Gomez Key will allow us to track reproductive outcomes to measure the project’s success. Additionally, the Gomez Key project includes years of post-habitat enhancement monitoring to guide management and conservation strategies to adapt to emerging threats. The enhancement project design and outcomes will fill information gaps for how to design projects to benefit oystercatchers along the Nature Coast as well as inform projects elsewhere. The Gomez Key project and similar habitat enhancement projects are the blueprints for the future of sustainable habitat enhancement and restoration strategies. They seek to bring forth the resiliency of ecological communities for the sake and benefit of people and wildlife.

(American oystercatcher photo: Maxis Gamez)

FSD banner

FSD Updates

Webinars and Tutorials

FSD Webinars

The 2021 Florida Shorebird Database (FSD) webinars recordings are now available online! Webinars were held earlier in March and cover how to conduct shorebird and seabird surveys according to the Breeding Bird Protocol. If you were unable to attend or want to watch them again, you can find the links to all three webinars on the FSD website under the Resources tab or by clicking on the links below.

FSD 2021 Webinar: New Survey

FSD 2021 Webinar: Returning Surveyors

FSD 2021 Webinar: Rooftop Monitors

New Video Tutorials

Not sure how to add routes to your FSD profile? Check out the two new FSD video tutorials to learn how! Watch the “How to Add an Existing Route” video tutorial first to learn how to find and add routes that already exist in the FSD to your profile. If you cannot find the route you are looking for and need to create a new one, watch the “How to Create a New Route” video tutorial. Links to these and other video tutorials can also be found on the FSD website under the Resources tab.

Ebb Tidings

Black Skimmer by Mia McPherson

In Case You Missed It

Audubon Florida is hosting two free virtual workshops to learn all about black skimmers! During the workshop you'll learn how they can lay their eggs and raise their chicks on sandy beaches during the peak of summer, and how exactly they catch fish without crash-landing into the water. You'll also learn about habitat loss and how we can work together as a community to help them survive. Workshops are being held April 7th and 19th at 7pm EST. 

Register here for April 7th workshop

Register here for April 19th workshop

(Black skimmer photo: Mia McPherson)