The Plover Watch

The last pair of plovers on town owned property has fledged and we thank everyone for another successful season on town-owned property.  There are some sites around the island that still have birds that have not finished their breeding cycle.  Those areas still have restrictions and limited access.  Point of Breakers/Sewerbeds is still closed to vehicles.  The state and federally protected least terns that have a colony there re-nested on that site after Hurricane Arthur and can take around 60 days to complete their breeding activities.  This is also the time of year when migrating birds begin to prepare for migration and will be using areas to feed and to rest.  Large flocks of terns and shorebirds will be present on tidal flats at times.  Please do not disrupt their preparations to depart for the winter.  Smith's Point and Esther's Island have narrowed in spots so use causing when driving in those areas and please do not drive through dune areas.  Thank you again for a successful plover season and thank you for your continued cooperation as the protected species prepare to leave for the winter.
As the season continues and birds have finished their nesting and fledged chicks we are able to re-open Smith's Point to vehicle traffic.  Vehicles are allowed to travel within the vehicle corridor to the access road to Esther's Island.  The remainder will open as the remaining protected species complete their breeding season.  Please continue to be mindful of the fenced areas and be mindful of the restrictions that come with those areas.  We thank you for your continued vigilance and hope to post other openings soon.
The Town of Nantucket's properties are continuing to have a great and productive season.  Some of the piping plover chicks have begun to fledge (learn how to fly and have flight feathers).  As we approach the holiday weekend please continue to follow the restrictions by staying out of fenced areas, do not fly kites (including kiteboards) within 200 yards of fenced areas, keep your vehicle within designated vehicle areas, and please keep your dogs leashed.  As the season continues we will be removing fencing from areas where nest have successfully completed.  Abiding by the guidelines and restrictions will help to ensure that this can happen soon in those locations that nests have completed.  Thanks to everyone for your cooperation and have a great holiday weekend.

The nesting season is continuing to go well and thank you to everyone for minding the nesting habitats and the restrictions associated with them.  The Natural Resources Department conducted the first nest count in the Least Tern colony at Smith's Point and found over 300 nests which is fantastic.  Smith's Point has had one of the most successful least tern colonies over the last few years and this year is looking great at this point.  Some of the nests have started to hatch so please continue to abide by the management guidelines to help the terns have continued success.  The Natural Resources Department in the count did manage to snap a few photos of what nests and chicks look like and how unbelievably small the nests and chicks are.  Thank you again for your help and we should have news on fledged chicks in the next few weeks.
least tern nest
least tern chicks 2
The census period for piping plover has ended yesterday on 6/9 and the birds nesting on town property are doing well.  Thank you all for continuing to do your part in being mindful of any restrictions and allowing the nesting success so far.  During the census period last Wednesday we had Susi vonOettingen from US Fish and Wildlife and Carolyn Mostello from Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program on island to assist with the census and help review and suggest improvements for the Town of Nantucket Endangered Species Program.  One of the suggestions is the possibility of setting up a volunteer network to assist with the monitoring of town monitored beaches.  If you are interested please contact the Natural Resources Department at 508-228-7230 or by email at  See below for a little of what you may expect if you wish to volunteer.  Please continue to do your part in helping these breeding birds be successful and thank you.
Can you find the piping plover chick
Can you find the piping plover chick_answer.jpg
Nests are beginning to hatch around the island for piping plover.  The chicks are small and mobile so please use caution when walking in areas around fencing as there could be chicks present.  Please remember that dogs must be leashed.  It can take up to 35 days for chicks to fledge, which means they have the ability to fly.  We thank you for your continued cooperation with any of the restrictions or regulations in effect.  If you have any questions about the birds or restrictions feel free to contact the Natural Resources office at 508-228-7230 or by email at
Smith’s Point: Nesting least terns have appeared in the same area as last year. The Town has adjusted the fencing outward towards the ocean in spots to accommodate the nesting terns.  Please stay outside the fencing when walking along the beach and give way to any birds using the area. Nantucket’s Bird Monitors will continue to monitor these areas and make any adjustments needed to stay in compliance with state and federal guidelines.  Other nesting birds have been found along the point as well and fencing there will be adjusted as need.  please rememnber that dogs are required to be leashed and that vehicles are prohibited from these areas and that includes beach bikes.  Nests will begin hatching soon so be aware of any chicks on the beach and please respect the expansion of any fencing to allow for their growth.  If anyone has any questions please contact the Nantucket Natural Resources Department at 508-228-7230. 
vehicle restrictions 5-28-2014_Page_2
Please note that due to the presence of nesting piping plover, least terns, and American oystercatcher that the following beaches are closed to vehicles:
Jetties Beach, Smith's Point, Point of Breakers/Sewerbeds, and Fisherman's Beach to Surfside Beach.  Please follow the beach driving map for other open areas.

Piping plover incubate their nests for 25-30 days and take another 30 days for the chicks to learn to fly.  Any disruption to this process may cause a additional nesting attempt an add another 30-45 days for beach restrictions.

Remember that if you see symbolic fencing and signs to stay out of the fenced off area, that kites or kiteboarding are not allowed, and dogs must be leashed at all times.

Fun fact: There are around 1375 breeding pairs of Piping plover on the Atlantic Coast and Massachusetts is home to over 600 of those pairs.

vehicle restrictions 5-28-2014 surfside area
Jetties Beach/Hulbert Ave: A pair of plovers has been spotted on the Hulbert Avenue side of Jetties Beach within the fenced area. They created a scrape outside of the fenced area so the fencing was adjusted to include that scrape Friday, May 2, 2014. During today’s inspection, Nantucket’s Bird Monitor found a one egg nest that was inside the original fenced area, but fairly close to the edge of the original fencing. The fencing has since been expanded to provide additional protection for this nesting pair.

This beach remains closed to vehicles and will continue to be closed to vehicles until the breeding season has ended. Nantucket Bird Monitors have also identified two new pair of plovers, both of which have been seen within the fenced areas or feeding on the exposed sand flats during low tide. The expanded fencing extends on to private property. Natural Resources has reached out to those homeowners to explain the situation to them as well.