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Protecting Old Lyme’s shorebirds

April 15—OLD LYME — Volunteers and staff from The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Connecticut and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection installed signs and fencing at Griswold Point Monday to protect shorebirds and their breeding grounds.

The groups work together as Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds to protect and monitor shorebirds at more than 50 locations across the state. At Griswold Point, they are focusing on the vulnerable species of plovers, which are federally and state endangered, least terns, which are endangered in the state, and American oystercatchers, which are endangered in the state. All three bird species, along with other shorebirds, are regularly seen in the area.

Nature Conservancy volunteer coordinator Martha Rice helped volunteers set up fencing and place rope to keep visitors away from areas where shorebirds often nest. They also posted signs reminding visitors that dogs are not allowed during the bird nesting season from April 1 to September 1 to protect eggs and chicks.

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“These birds are easy to disturb,” Rice said, “especially during the breeding season when they are most vulnerable.” She noted that some nests, such as those of the plover, are small and difficult to see, even for those who look closely and are careful.

When birds notice other animals nearby, even leashed dogs, they stay away from their nests longer, which can cause the eggs to lose heat and make the nests more vulnerable to predators.

“We all have to work together to make this happen and help the birds,” said Elizabeth Amendola, senior coordinator of Audubon Connecticut’s Coastal Program. “No organization has the funding or manpower to do this alone.”

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