Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beach-nesting Bird Management Workshop

As part of its initiative to protect seabirds and restore South Carolina's nesting populations to their former size, Audubon south Carolina has agreed to help fund an educational and monitoring position with the Department of Natural Resources to educate the public about the new regulations and monitor seabird and human activity on the islands. Workshops (see details below) help support this initiative.

Despite South Carolina’s multitude of barrier islands (an estimated 3,000 on the lower coast alone) only five are known to support seabird nesting. Among them are Bird Key, Crab Bank and Deveaux Bank, properties under the protection and ownership of the Heritage Preserve System and Audubon Important Bird Areas.

These properties were brought into the ownership of the Heritage Preserve System due to their critical nature to seabirds. Past regulations closed nesting areas on these properties during the nesting season. Each year DNR staff post warnings and set up rope barriers to protect the nesting sites. However, those attempts at controlling intrusions into the nesting areas failed. Footprints and dog tracks literally criss-cross the nesting sites.

Evidence is showing that disturbance is having an impact on nesting seabirds – birds that nest in large groups and are extremely vulnerable when even one of these sites are impacted. They have literally put all of their eggs in one basket. In the early 1990’s Bird Key was the largest Brown Pelican rookery in the entire United States, boasting over 4,000 nests each year. There were no nesting Brown Pelicans on Bird Key in 2005 and signs point to disturbance as a major factor. Our state’s total population of Brown Pelicans is reaching a low level not seen since the days before the ban on DDT.

Under new regulations, Bird Key Stono and Crab Bank are both closed to humans and pets from March 15th of each year to October 15th of each year. Deveaux Bank, because of its large size, continues to have some recreational uses below the mean high tide line, such as sportfishing.

The Beach-nesting Bird Management Workshop will help managers and volunteers identify and protect critical shorebird nesting habitat.

Purpose: To teach managers to identify birds that nest on SC beaches and to recognize preferred habitat; to review the status of these avian species; to demonstrate simple techniques that can protect beach-nesting birds.

When: October 30th, 2008, 8:00am – 4:00pm

Where: Charleston, SC at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources facilities at the Marine Resource Center Auditorium (in the MRRI building) http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/mrri/mrc.html

This workshop is intended for:
Federal, state, county, and private land managers in coastal South Carolina.
County and city officials involved in land-use planning
People interested in volunteering to protect beach-nesting or rooftop nesting birds

Registration Information:
The registration fee is $5 to cover costs of snacks and refreshments during meeting. We will take orders for lunch (sandwiches) from 7:30-8:00 at the registration table. You may also bring your own lunch. Please bring cash to the meeting to pay for registration and lunch (if you wish to purchase). If you want to go on the field trip, please contact Jeff Mollenhauer at jmollenhauer@audubon.org or 843-462-2150. We need to arrange boat space prior to the meeting.

Program Overview:
7:30-8:00 Coffee and Breakfast (outside auditorium, no drinks or food allowed in auditorium); Registration and lunch orders taken

8:00 Introduction and Overview of South Carolina Shorebird Project – Jeff Mollenhauer, Audubon South Carolina

8:20 Statewide Perspective of Seabird/Shorebird Populations and Information
About Posting Nesting Areas – Felicia Sanders, SCNDR

8:50 Shorebird Conservation & Managing for Human/Dog Disturbance – Sid
Maddock, Audubon North Carolina

9:20 Importance of Intertidal Zone and Effects of Human Disturbance – Lisa
Eggert, Clemson University

9:50 – BREAK

10:10 How to Create Least Tern/Wilson’s Plover Habitat – Mike Walker, SCPRT

10:40 Developing a Statewide Wilson’s Plover Survey – Kerri Dikun, Coastal
Carolina University and Jeff Mollenhauer, Audubon South Carolina

11:10 How to Manage Rooftop Nesting Least Tern Colonies – Monique Borboen,
Audubon of Florida

11:40 Conducting Research on Rooftop Nesting Least Terns – Chris Hill, Coastal
Carolina University

12:00 – LUNCH picnic tables at the outdoor classroom behind the Marshland House

1:30 – 4:00 Field Trip (by boat) to Morris Island and/or Crab Bank to learn about key beach-nesting bird habitats, how to identify shorebirds/seabirds, and see a demonstration of sign posting.

Image by Jeff Mollenhauer

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