The Plover Watch

Welcome to the Plover Watch.
This is where you can come to find the latest information and updates on protected species management on the Town of Nantucket's beaches.  Please check back on a regular basis for updates on restrictions and closures.  The Town of Nantucket is required to manage protected species habitat in accordance with guidelines published by United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. 
Protection of Habitat
Symbolic fencing is required to protect nesting habitat for protected species.  This fencing is used to mark the start of use restrictions on the beaches and water area around this habitat.
  • Pedestrians are allowed up to the edge of the fencing.  Please walk as close to the waterline as possible.
  • All kites including kites for kiteboarding must maintain a 200 yard buffer to the edge of the fencing.
  • Vehicles including beach bikes must stay within marked vehicle corridors or observe any beach closures for vehicles.
  • All pets must be leashed.
Piping Plovers and American oystercatchers have returned to Nantucket.  We have seen birds courting and scraping on our beaches.  Scraping is when the male bird will create a cup like divot in the sand to demonstrate his nest building skills to attract females.  After they mate they will select a scrape and lay eggs in that scrape right on the beach.  If you see a piping plover in an area without symbolic fencing please contact the Natural Resources and we can evaluate if protective measures need to go in place.  Thank you for your assistance.
Due to the presence of nesting protected species in the Fisherman's Beach and Surfside/Point of Breakers area vehicles are prohibited to maintain compliance with State and Federal guidelines.  Please see the map below for the changes.  We will reopen these areas as soon as we are allowed to in compliance with the guidelines.  Please remember to keep your pets leashed in these areas.  Stay tuned for further updates.  Thank you for your cooperation!
vehicle restrictions 5-28-2014 surfside area
The season is off and rolling and we have nesting birds and chicks on a number of the properties that the town monitors.  To comply with State and Federal Guidelines the Town of Nantucket has had to close the vehicle access at Smith's Point - Esther's Island due to the nesting of Piping Plover and Least Tern.  These sites are being monitored on a daily basis and will be reopened as quickly as possible.  Please remember that these areas also do not allow kites or kiteboards and that pets must be leashed at all times.  We thank your for your assistance with this program and enjoy late spring/early summer.  Please see the picture below for more detail.
Smiths Point-Esthers Island Vehicle Restrictions
Happy 4th of July weekend.  Please be mindful of restricted areas this holiday weekend.  We were able to take down the fencing at Jetties Beach and birds are beginning to fledge around the island.  The pair at Fisherman's Beach should be fledging the two chicks they have over the weekend into early next week.  In good news too the tern census at Smith's Point/Esther's Island had nearly 800 least tern nests which is the largest colony o least terns that the Town of Nantucket has had on that property.  Please keep your eyes open for small chicks or other birds if you are near protected species habitat as they chicks can be mobile and difficult to see.  Have a fun and safe holiday!
Birds are fledging all over the island and fencing is coming down and being moved on our sites.  The birds at Fisherman's beach successfully fledged chicks this year and the fencing has been moved back to help protect the dune grass.  Thank you for your cooperation on such a busy site.  The birds in the Jetties Beach area have moved west enough to remove the fencing at Jetties Beach as well.  We continue to have birds out at Smith's Point with the large tern colony doing very well.  It is looking like we are having a productive year and hope to have more areas open as soon as possible.  Still a few birds on nests but most have chicks at this point of the season.  We thank all of you for your help with this program and hope you are having a wonderful summer. 
All of the town-owned/operated beaches have been re-opened.  Please mind the fencing that is in place to protect some dune habitat and areas of staging birds.  These birds are preparing to migrate south for the winter and need areas to rest in before they begin their flights south.  Thank you all for a successful season and we will see you again next March-April.  Enjoy the rest of your summer!