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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Sandy Point Bird Sanctuary, West Haven, Connecticut, USA

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Sandy Point Bird Sanctuary, West Haven, Connecticut, USA
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Registered: December 2017
City/Town/Province: West Haven
Posts: 1
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As a part of the Conservation Ambassador Program (CAP) with UConn, I was tasked with creating a conservation project to benefit my community and scientific data. A bird sanctuary known as Sandy Point just happens to be located in my hometown. It is classified as a globally important bird area because of the vulnerable Piping Plovers and Black Skimmers who nest there over the summer. It’s a birding hotspot during spring and summer but once winter arrives, no one seems to go. Data on wintering birds is scarce for the area and it is a cause for concern if there are rare birds who stay there while people fish, hunt, walk, and let their dogs roam free. Therefore, I made it my mission to provide data on what birds reside there to see if they need further protection.
Starting October 7, 2017, I went out with my binoculars and camera, recording the birds which I see. On the first day, I came across some unique species you don’t see on the beach everyday. Black-bellied Plovers come to Connecticut during the wintertime and I even came across some Laughing Gulls that were passing through on their migration south. I made it my goal to return at least once a week to get accurate numbers on the fluctuating amount of summer, migrant, winter, and year round species. As the weeks went on, I noticed a decrease in summer and migrant species to a point where there were none of each from November 11 onwards, except for a few unexpected visitors. I saw Nelson’s Sparrows, Dunlins, Sanderlings, and Belted Kingfishers. As it got colder, Red-throated and Common Loons appeared feet away from the shore. Snow Buntings and American Pipits, songbirds who live far up north in the Arctic Circle hid in the grasses and sand dunes. To help me get around and identify birds, I partnered with Larry Bausher, a chairman of the New Haven Bird Club and a summer observer of the Piping Plover, who would join me on bird walks.
Yet, the more I saw birds, the more human influenced problems appeared. My dad and I would go out onto the dunes together, picking up trash including beer bottles and the always dangerous fishing line that fishermen left behind. Waterfowl hunting has not only disrupted non-game birds but also people. The fact that a bird sanctuary allows bird hunting has been a cause of concern among some nearby residents both due to conservation and safety issues.There have even been complaints to local news stations and CT DEEP because of the danger stray bullets cause.
Although my project is actively going on until around February, I have collected a great deal of data which has given great insight on the sanctuary. In March, I will be presenting my findings at the Connecticut Conference of Natural Resources as a part of CAP. I hope that the information will prove that the sanctuary needs protection over not just the summer, but the winter. Furthermore, my data will help local ecologists and bird watchers on what birds take residence during the winter since a major source of bird data comes from citizen observations.
Date: December 20, 2017 Views: 4238 File size: 22.7kb, 2643.2kb : 4032 x 3024
Hours Volunteered: 15
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 78
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 27
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