Denise Goldberg's blog

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

plover warden

This morning was my first stint as plover warden at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. The entire 6-miles of beach at the refuge closes each year on April 1st at the start of the piping plover nesting season, remaining closed until the birds are done with it (usually sometime in August or September). The closure is well signed, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service uses volunteers to help encourage visitors to remain off of the closed beach.

The last count I heard indicated that there are 47 pairs of piping plovers on the beach with 32 active nests.

The beach above the high tide line is signed and has a rope border to discourage trespassing, but below the tide line there is nothing showing the closure (other than a continuation of the line above the high tide mark). Most people were aware and didn't go anywhere near the closed section of beach, although I did need to stop someone from chasing her child's beach ball. It was very windy all morning, and the beach ball just took off, rolling onto the closed beach and quickly disappearing. Before it disappeared I could see the mother starting to walk toward the beach closure sign. She wasn't very happy when I told her she couldn't retrieve the ball; luckily it disappeared from sight very quickly.

Funny, sometimes people seem to think the signs aren't meant for them. I wonder why.

warning sign at the start of the boardwalk

warning sign showing fine
Sign showing potential fine of $100,000

warning signs

If you're interested in information about the closures, take a look at the fact sheet The Piping Plover and Beach Closures at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

Update on 6/17/2016: the refuge beach is now home to 37 pairs of piping plovers with 65 chicks.