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Join PEF Project, Pacifica Shorebird Alliance, at Pacifica State Beach on August 19 to prepare for the return of Snowy Plovers. The morning will be spent pounding posts into the sand, stringing cable through the eyes of the posts and reattaching the charming signs designed by Ocean Shore School second graders to remind visitors to the beach to save some room for shorebirds.
After 12 years of declining population, last winter saw a remarkable doubling of the previous year’s number of Snowy Plovers on the beach at Linda Mar. As the wintering season progressed, weekly monitors did observe more roosting plovers enjoying peace and quiet on the flat beach near the foredunes -- away from beachgoers, behind the symbolic fence.
Last fall, for the first time, enthusiastic volunteers with significant help from Ron Fascenda’s great Department of Public Works crew, installed symbolic fencing on a small part of Pacifica State Beach north of Crespi. Materials and tools were financed by a generous grant from Audubon California and disbursed through our local San Mateo Sequoia Audubon chapter.
Symbolic fencing offers a protected area where at any time the birds can rest undisturbed during the winter season, they are conserving energy for survival and breeding. With only 2,000 breeding birds from Washington State to Baja, this threatened species is protected under the Endangered Species Act. Pacifica State Beach is officially known to the US Fish and Wildlife Service as CA 48. Routine monitoring by volunteers contributes to a west coast database to track the success of efforts to recover the species. While official records of plovers show they have not nested at Pacifica State Beach since 1971, we can still contribute to Snowy Plover survival by keeping them healthy through the winter.
Plover lovers will be checking with binoculars for the return of our longest resident, a female banded LG:YO, identified bylime above green on her left leg and yellow above orange on her right leg. LG:YO spent last spring and early summer raising a family down at Pajaro dunes near Watsonville where she has nested before probably with the same male. With females laying often more than one clutch of three eggs totaling 60% of body weight each time, the energy resources she needs are staggering. Her return this winter would mark her sixth winter spent in Pacifica.