Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: migratory shorebirds

Bird Watcher’s Digest coverage

Quick Takes coverage of Space to Roost in the Nov/Dec 2018 issue of Bird Water's Digest.

Quick Takes coverage of Space to Roost in the Nov/Dec 2018 issue of Bird Water’s Digest.

Congratulations to MES candidate Jaya Fahey, and collaborators from her MES sponsors and Mitacs host, Bird Studies Canada, for the coverage of Space to Roost in the recent issue of Bird Watcher’s Digest. Our innovative approach to negotiating and motivating high-tide beach sharing for migrating shorebirds has received interest from places like Newfoundland and Georgia and we hope to see more examples of this kind of collaborative conservation in future as a result.

Angling for answers

Bilingual material about making space for shorebirds to rest this migration season.

Bilingual material about making space for shorebirds to rest this migration season.

As shorebirds start to arrive in the Bay of Fundy on their annual migration back south, it is a good time to report on our recent survey with striped bass anglers and outline our plans for the summer. We implemented an online survey with anglers who use key roosting sites in the Minas Basin, particularly ‘the Guzzle‘, to help us explore options for sharing beach space with migrating shorebirds at their high-tide resting period. This was in lieu of trying to assemble a workshop or focus group. The response was excellent, and we are now sharing the results here (PDF). On the basis of this feedback, and engagement with beach users in Avonport, our other key site, we have developed bilingual materials (above) that explain why, where and how to help shorebirds rest to ensure a successful migration back south: it’s a three-day trip over the Gulf of Mexico and they can’t swim! With anglers and other beach users we have identified lesser-used areas of each site to pilot setting aside at high tide for shorebird roosting, The back of the above card features a tide table that shows the times in August 2017 that we hope people will leave the sites for bird use, and signs at each place will explain further. We enjoyed this process of developing conservation ideas WITH beach users, many of whom are already great stewards of these birds. Space to Roost researcher Jaya Fahey will then be monitoring bird disturbance this year, as she did last year, and we’ll hope to see a difference.

Beach user/shorebird surveys

One of Jaya Fahey's great pictures of roosting shorebirds on Evangeline Beach, one of our four Space to Roost study sites.

One of Jaya Fahey’s great pictures of roosting shorebirds on Evangeline Beach, one of our four Space to Roost study sites.

Great to hear from Jaya, our summer field assistant on Space to Roost, that her interviews with beach users about shorebird activity have been going very well.  She is ahead of schedule because of the enthusiasm that fishermen have had for sharing their observations of human/bird interactions, and offering ideas about ways to share the shore. She has been posting some photos of the migrating birds on our new project Facebook page, both those she has captured and pics from other birders and volunteers. If you decide to head up to see the birds for yourself, remember to keep your dog on a leash: these birds are tired after their 3000 km journey!

Summer student opportunity on human/shorebird conflict

Fishermen and migratory birds compete for space along the Minas Basin (photo: Mark Elderkin)

Fishermen and migratory birds compete for space along the Minas Basin (photo: Mark Elderkin)

Bird Studies Canada currently has year 1 funding (NS Habitat Conservation Fund) for a three-year project, Space to Roost, understanding human-bird conflict in important roosting sites along the Minas Basin during shorebird migrations in late summer. This funding includes support to hire a Nova Scotia (6-months prior residency) student the summer of 2016. This will be our first year of a 3-year project. We will be conducting human-use audits at 3-4 roost sites to gather baseline information at sites during peak fall migration (July – August) to understand spatial and temporal use of recreational activities (e.g., fishermen, swimmers, dog walkers) and other human-induced threats. The summer student position will require someone with an interest in outreach who’s not shy about approaching people, initiating conversations with individuals at roost sites, and contacting user group representatives. Basically, this first field season will lay the ground work for developing and piloting conservation strategies to reduce human pressures at roost sites in year two. The role would best suit a student entering their last year of a conservation, recreation or environmental studies degree. Someone who is seeking to collect data for a final year Honours thesis would be ideal, and perhaps even someone interested in continuing on to a funded MES on the topic. Please contact me if you are interested.

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