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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
VENTURA: Volunteers Help Protect California Least Terns and Western Snowy Plovers at Oxnard's Ormond Beach
Region 8, October 12, 2007
Volunteers from Oxnard City Corps, Audubon Society, California Department of Fish and Game, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy gather for a group photo near Ormond Beach in Oxnard, Calif.(Photo: Jose Flores-USFWS)
Volunteers from Oxnard City Corps, Audubon Society, California Department of Fish and Game, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy gather for a group photo near Ormond Beach in Oxnard, Calif.(Photo: Jose Flores-USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

By Chris Dellith, Ventura Fish & Wildlife Office
On April 13, 2007, members of various federal and state gencies, organizations, university students and a professor, convened at Ormond Beach to install an enclosure around a historical California least tern breeding colony. 

 

Ormond Beach is part of the largest and most important expanse of wetland and beach habitats in Ventura County, California.  Home to the area’s premier shorebird nesting and foraging habitat, concerned local citizens, agencies, and organizations have spent over 20 years working to protect the federally endangered California least tern (Sterna albifrons browni) and threatened western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) and their habitats from human-related disturbance.

 

Tthe enclosure helps protect both least terns and snowy plovers from disturbances.  Individuals from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Audubon Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oxnard City Corps, and approximately 20 students and their professor from the California State University Channel Islands, all participated in installing the enclosure.  With everybody’s help, approximately 2 miles of orange snow fencing was installed around the breeding area in just 6 hours!  In previous years with less help, the fence installation took approximately 2 days to complete.

 

Subsequently, 17 weekly surveys were conducted by local bird conservation leader, Reed Smith.  During that period, Mr. Smith located and monitored 52 California least tern nests from initiation to fledging of young.  Furthermore, Carly Gocal, under contract from the California Department of Fish and Game, conducted surveys for western snowy plovers at Ormond Beach.  Ms. Gocal reported that the apparent nest success for the 2007 breeding season was 73.6% (apparent nest success/total number of nests).  Overall, we consider the 2007 breeding season for California least terns and western snowy plovers in Ventura County to have been successful due in part to the efforts of these dedicated groups and individuals.

Because the fencing is intended to be temporary (only in place during the breeding season), it is removed after all the young birds have fledged.  The fencing was removed in less than 6 hours October 12 with the help of  the Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oxnard City Corps, the California Department of Fish and Game, Reliant Energy, and Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge.  A special thanks should go out to Walter Fuller, a local citizen, who volunteers on a daily basis at Ormond Beach to inform beach users of the sensitive resources and how they can be protected.

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov