I recently attended a beach clean up at Ormond Beach. The first time I visited Ormond Beach was last year for an ornithology class. Ventura County is one of the best places to “bird” as it is home to many species of birds. It is also a nice rest spot for migrating birds. One reason Ormond Beach is a fantastic spot to bird at is the variety of habitats leading to the shore. There are miles of open farm fields nearby and wetlands as you approach the sandy beach. The diverse habitats house a variety of birds. One of the prettiest birds I have seen on my way to the shore is the Red-winged Blackbird. Last semester, my main mission at Ormond Beach was to spot a snowy plover. A long fence protected the snowy plover nesting grounds and several posts were decorated with handmade student-designed posters urging beach visitors to be cautious of snowy plover eggs and nests. Snowy Plover nests and eggs are extremely vulnerable to damage because they are located on the ground and blend in with the environment. One method snowy plovers use to construct nests involves the following: first, the male makes a depression in the ground using his body, then the male and female pick up debris with their bills and either toss them backward over their shoulder “or along side in one fluid motion” and continue dropping debris in scrape during incubation periods (Page et al., 2009). Snowy plovers line their nests with a variety of materials/debris including: “2- to 10-mm-long pebbles, shell fragments, fish bones, mud chips, vegetation fragments, or invertebrate skeletons” (Page et al., 2009). The amount of glass pieces collected by beach clean up volunteers at Ormond Beach this semester was astounding. One volunteer exclaimed that we could make a sea glass table from all the glass debris found.
As we discussed in class, the western snowy plover is threatened and several are anthropogenic effects. One of the ways we can mitigate threats is to clean debris from our beaches. Additionally, there are many signs on various beaches in Ventura County prohibiting or restrictions of domestic dogs on the beach (many require dogs must be on leashes) which also helps reduce the interference/accidental destruction of nests or eggs. Last, there are signs spreading awareness of the threatened snowy plover as seen in the picture provided in this post. Ormond Beach is special to me because it is one of the first places I went birding on my own, outside of class. I truly appreciate that our community has shown dedication in keeping this snowy plover habitat clean and protected.
Page, G. W., L. E. Stenzel, J. S. Warriner, J. C. Warriner, & P. W. Paton (2009). Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.154