Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge 2012 Field Season Press Release
Northeast Region, November 6, 2012
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The following update is a summary for the 2012 field season at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge). The data within this summary is current as of 29 October 2012. The following information is subject to change as the data is reviewed and finalized. Beach Nesting Birds

• A total of 39 pairs of federally threatened piping plovers nested on the refuge during 2012. All of the nests were located on South Monomoy. Refuge-wide, this is a decrease in the number of pairs from 41 in 2011. Fifty-four piping plover chicks were documented as fledged and overall reproductive success was good at 1.38 chicks fledged per pair. Though productivity this year was not as high as the recent refuge record of 2.33 chicks fledged per pair in 2010, that was an exceptionally high productivity for the refuge and the productivity achieved this season is considered adequate to meet recovery plan goals.

• A total of 7,762 common terns nested on the north tip of South Monomoy in 2012. This is an increase of 858 pairs from 6,904 pairs in 2011. Reproductive success was good at 1.26 chicks fledged per nest (based on a subset of 384 A-period nest attempts). Approximately 344 pairs of common terns nested on Minimoy Island this season with qualitatively poor productivity. This is approximately the same number as in 2011 when 342 pairs nested on the island. Habitat loss on Minimoy Island continues with frequent overwash events occurring throughout the season. These overwash events combined with predator activity from coyotes, gulls, and black-crowned night-herons on the island were the primary cause of poor productivity for common terns on Minimoy Island. No common tern nests (7 in 2011) were found on North Monomoy Island in 2012. This area is also subject to frequent overwash and no longer contains much suitable nesting habitat.

• Seven pairs of federally endangered roseate terns nested on the refuge in 2012 during the A-census period (12 in 2011, 9 in 2010, 0 in 2009, 37 in 2008). One roseate tern nest was located in the main common tern colony on the north tip of South Monomoy and a second nest found during the B-census period was located south of the main nesting area near field camp. Six nests were found on Minimoy Island during the A-census period. The roseate tern attraction project that began in 2009 was continued this year. The sound system was placed near field camp in an area slightly outside the main tern nesting area and was run during daylight hours from mid-May through July. Two roseate tern chicks on South Monomoy and four roseate tern chicks on Minimoy Island were banded with a field readable band and a standard metal band. Two roseate tern chicks from South Monomoy and three roseate tern chicks from Minimoy Island were documented as fledged.

• In 2012, 441 pairs of laughing gulls nested on South Monomoy, a slight increase from 395 in 2011. Overall, productivity was estimated to be excellent based on the number of large chicks observed in the colony. Nest destruction efforts were not conducted this year due to low numbers of nesting laughing gulls and their minimal impact to the nesting common and roseate terns.

• An estimated total of 52 least tern nests were censused in nesting areas on the refuge during the 2012 A-census period (June 5-20). Due to an increase in nesting pairs, a B-census was conducted in mid-July, and 152 nests were counted. Nesting numbers this year likely represent an increase from 2011, but a complete nest count was not conducted last year. Productivity was not measured, but was estimated to be qualitatively fair as several fledglings were documented on South Monomoy unlike in 2011 when very few fledglings were seen.

• A total of 163 black-crowned night-heron nested on North Monomoy Island in 2012, up from 147 nests in 2010. 33 Snowy Egret nests and 7 Great Egret nests were also counted during the census on North Monomoy Island this year. There were no wading bird nests found on South Monomoy this year (same as in 2010). The wading bird census was not conducted in 2011 due to poor weather events preventing staff access to the refuge during the beginning of the season.

• There were no black skimmer nests located on Minimoy Island this year. One pair of black skimmers nested in the tern colony on South Monomoy. This nest had one egg, but adult skimmers were never seen attending the egg and subsequently it was abandoned during heavy settling around the nest by common terns.

• A total of 26 pairs of American oystercatchers nested on the refuge in 2012: 9 pairs on North Monomoy Island, 11 pairs on South Monomoy, and 6 pairs on Minimoy Island. This is a small increase from 23 pairs in 2011. Overall, reproductive success was fair with 0.15 chicks fledged per pair. This is a decrease from 2011 when 0.35 chicks fledged per pair. Heavy predation and nest overwash continue to cause serious impacts to the nest success of American oystercatchers on the refuge.

Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetles
Northeastern beach tiger beetles were monitored on the refuge on 10 days between 3 July 2012 and 23 August 2012. A total of 40 adult beetles were marked and individual adults were resighted on subsequent visits. A high count of 1,228 individuals was documented over a 1-day period in July, though a population estimate for this year has not yet been calculated. Surveys will continue into September as long as adult beetles are present.

Horseshoe Crabs
Monomoy refuge is an important spawning area for horseshoe crabs in Massachusetts. In 2012, approximately 802 horseshoe crabs were tagged on North Monomoy Island and South Monomoy with the help of several volunteer groups. Tagging efforts took place during the months of May and June. Sightings of tagged horseshoe crabs should be reported to the phone number listed on the tag itself. Spawning surveys were not conducted on the refuge during 2012.

Monomoy Shorebird Project
The refuge partnered with Conserve Wildlife for the 4th consecutive year this year to capture migrating shorebirds with the objectives of recapturing previously banded shorebird species, and equipping juvenile Red Knots with geolocators to gain information on migratory patterns of hatch year birds. A separate press release with the results of this project will be made available later in the season though a blog with information about the project can be viewed here: http://tinyurl.com/9a9msr4.

Monomoy Refuge Banding Station
Monomoy Refuge Banding Station (MRBS) was established for the first time in 2011 and is being continued this year by refuge volunteers. The banding station located around the Monomoy Point Lighthouse is the first effort at capturing and banding landbirds that use the refuge as a stop-over site during southward migration to non-breeding areas. Data from this study will be presented in a report to the refuge by the end of this calendar year. More information can be found on the banding station website: http://monomoybirds.org/.

The refuge staff wishes to thank the many dedicated volunteers, school groups, and conservation partners for their assistance and support with biological surveys, maintenance tasks, and public outreach efforts. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities at the refuge year-round. If you would like to become a volunteer at the refuge please contact Kate Iaquinto at (508) 945-0594 ext 13.

Monomoy NWR Facebook Page
Contact Info: Kate Iaquinto, 508-945-0594 ext. 13, Kate_Iaquinto@fws.gov
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