The last of this year’s newly-hatched piping plover chicks at Gordons Pond have fledged and are flying well, allowing the reopening of the oceanside beach today at Cape Henlopen State Park.
A half-mile stretch of the shoreline at Gordons Pond was closed to vehicles and pedestrians starting in May - an annual temporary closure - to protect nesting piping plovers and other beachnesting birds from disturbance during their breeding period.
This season, two pairs of piping plovers nested at Gordons Pond and one of the pairs produced four chicks. As many as three pairs have nested there in past years. American oystercatchers and least terns, both listed as endangered in Delaware, also nested at Gordons Pond this season.
On the Point, two plover pairs are still caring for their chicks, while a third pair is still incubating their nest. Least terns and an American oystercatcher pair also continue to incubate eggs, with hatching expected soon.
Just as the beachnesting bird breeding season ends at Gordons Pond, the sprouting season for seabeach amaranth has begun, with three plants found in the area this past weekend. This rare species, like the piping plover, is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Seabeach amaranth grows in the same kinds of habitat where piping plovers nest and usually begins sprouting in July in Delaware.
The dunes and interdunal areas at Gordons Pond remain closed to the public year-round to protect seabeach amaranth plants and numerous other rare species and plant communities that exist in this area.
For more information about beachnesting birds or monitoring efforts, contact Wildlife Biologist Matt Bailey at 302-382-4151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.