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Monitoring Project Impact on Birds



Perform Beach Surveys For Piping Plover, other Shorebirds, and Colonial Waterbirds on the Beaches of Bald Head Island, Caswell Beach, Oak Island, and Holden Beach, North Carolina, November 1, 2000 – October 31, 2001

Piping Plover              
Photo by Luther Goldman  

Introduction:  The Wilmington Harbor deepening project will involve the disposal of about 5.6 million cubic yards of sandy dredged material on the beaches of Baldhead Island, Caswell Beach, Oak Island, and Holden Beach in Brunswick County, North Carolina.  This disposal will occur over a distance of about 14 miles, and could last for 18 continuous months.  This volume and duration of disposal could adversely impact bird usage of the beach habitat.  Piping plover, other shorebirds, and colonial waterbirds can use the beach for courtship, nesting, foraging, roosting, and resting.  Therefore, surveys of the beaches will be required to assess the impacts of the project on these birds.

Survey Locations:  Surveys will be conducted during breeding and non-breeding seasons.  The approximate locations are indicated on enclosed figures.  The following areas will be surveyed:

      1.   Breeding Season:  Monitoring for piping plover, other shorebirds, and colonial waterbirds will generally be conducted weekly from March 1 through July 15.  If nests or broods are still within the study area after July 15, those nests and/or broods will be followed until fledged or lost.

Baldhead Island:  Two (2) survey areas are located on Baldhead Island.  The first begins at the entrance to the marina and proceeds southward around the point then eastward for a total distance of about 1.5 miles.  The second survey area begins at the Captain Charlie’s walkover on South Beach and proceeds eastward around the point to the gazebo on East Beach (about 1 mile).

Oak Island:  One (1) survey area is located on Oak Island.  This area begins at 57th Place  West and proceeds westward around the spit at Lockwoods Folly Inlet (about 1.5 miles).

Holden Beach:  One (1) survey area is located on Holden Beach.  This area begins at Avenue E and proceeds eastward around the spit at Lockwoods Folly Inlet (about 1 mile).

Data collection will include:

1.       dates when monitoring began and ended, and the date, time, and location of each observation.  Locations within each transect would be divided into three zones perpendicular to the beach (e.g. intertidal, between intertidal and base of dune, and dune and overwash areas), and four equally spaced zones along the longitudinal axis of the transects.  This would result in 12 location zones per transect,

2.       the number of birds (shorebirds and colonial waterbirds) seen, species, nesting pair counts, and productivity data,

3.       the microhabitat of the occurrence, e.g., sandflat, mudflat, or beach,

4.       the activity of the birds, e.g., foraging, roosting, courtship, brooding rearing, etc,

5.   nesting chronology (dates when birds were first seen on the site, nest establishment dates, dates when unfledged chicks are present on the site),

6.       locations of nests (GPS + 5 meters horizontal),

7.       locations of brood foraging territories for shorebirds (piping plovers, Wilson’s plovers, American oystercatchers).  The locations zones would be the same as indicated above,

8.   known and suspected causes of nest and chick loss,

9.   disturbance caused by presence of humans, pets, and predators,

10.   use of the site by post-breeding or migrating birds,

11. any bands that may be visible.  Observers will be aware of bands for the endangered Great Lakes piping plovers.  The presence of birds from the Great Lakes population will be reported to the USFWS and the NCWRC as soon as possible.

12. Weather including cloud conditions, wind speed and direction, and air and water temperature (0F).

If nests are located in the survey area or banded piping plovers observed from the Great Lake population, notify immediately Mr. Frank Yelverton, contract Technical Representative, at 910-251-4640, or if he is not available, contact Mr. Richard Lewis, Contract Officers Representative at 910-251-4755.  Also contact Mr. David Allen, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, at 252-448-1546, and Mr. John Hammond, Raleigh Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 910-856-4520, extension 28.  To verify Great Lakes piping plover band combinations contact Jennifer Stucker at Univ. of Minnesota; email address is jkh@fw.umn.edu, phone 612-624-3785.  The Corps of Engineers will take appropriate action so that beach disposal operations will not occur within 700 ft of nests.

      2.   Non-Breeding Season:  Monitoring for non-breeding plovers, other shorebirds, and colonial waterbirds will extend from July 15 to May 30.  Since the end of this period overlaps with breeding use, surveys for both breeding and non-breeding use may be combined from March 1 through May 30.  Surveys will be conducted weekly during migration (July 15 to November 30 and February 15 to May 30) and bi-weekly during the mid-winter period (December 1 to February 15)..  The following survey sites will be added to the aforementioned breeding season sites, so that all sites will be surveyed during the non-breeding season.

Baldhead Island:  Same survey areas during the breeding season plus one (1) survey transect one (1) mile long located on South Beach midway between the breeding season survey areas.  The exact location will be determined in the field based on ease of access points.

Caswell Beach:  One (1) survey area is added on Caswell Beach.  This area begins at the guard house on SR 1100 at the entrance to the Baptist Assembly and proceeds eastward around the inlet to Caswell Basin (about 1.5 miles).

Oak Island:  Same survey areas during the breeding season plus two (2) survey transects each one (1) mile long.  The first transect will begin at the Ocean Crest Pier (near 16th Place East) and proceed 1 mile westward.  The second transect will begin at the Yaupon Beach Pier (near Womble Street) and proceed 1 mile westward.

Holden Beach:  Same survey area during the breeding season plus one (1) survey transect one (1) mile long.  The transect will begin at Ferry Road and proceed 1 mile westward.

Data collection will include:

1.       dates when monitoring began and ended, and the date, time, and location of each observation.  Location zones would be the same as indicated for breeding season,

2.       the number of birds seen and species,

3.       the microhabitat of the occurrence, e.g., sandflat, mudflat, or beach,

4.       the activity of the birds, e.g., foraging, roosting, etc,

5.       locations of commonly used foraging areas.  Locations zones are the same as indicated above,

6.   disturbance caused by presence of humans, pets, and predators,

7.   any bands that may be visible.  Observers will be aware of bands for the endangered Great Lakes piping plovers.  The presence of birds from the Great Lakes population will be reported to the USFWS and the NCWRC as soon as possible,

8.   Weather including cloud conditions, wind speed and direction, and air and water temperature (0F).

If piping plovers are sited within the survey area, especially banded piping plovers observed from the Great Lake population, notify immediately Mr. Frank Yelverton, Contract Technical Representative, at 910-251-4640, or if he is not available, contact Mr. Richard Lewis, Contract Officers Representative at 910-251-4755.  Also contact Mr. David Allen, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, at 252-448-1546, and Mr. John Hammond, Raleigh Field Office, US Fish and Wildlife Service at 910-856-4520, extension 28.  To verify Great Lakes piping plover band combinations, contact Jennifer Stucker at Univ. of Minnesota; email address is jkh@fw.umn.edu, phone 612-624-3785.

3.   Control Areas:  The control areas will be surveyed at the same frequency, and using the same data collection methods employed for the breeding and non-breeding surveys.  There a two (2) control sites both located on Holden Beach.  The first is a non-breeding season transect which is one mile long and is centered on Swordfish Drive (i.e. extends ½ mile east and west of Swordfish Drive).  The second is a breeding season transect (thus will be surveyed year-round) and will begin at Skimmer Court and proceed about 2.0 miles westward around the inlet.

4.   Survey Methods:  Observations will be conducted during daylight hours and will be evenly distributed throughout this period.  Survey time periods will be established during daylight hours from 30 minutes after sunrise to 30 minutes before sunset and will include a wide range of tidal conditions and habitat types.  The amount of time necessary to survey each site will depend on the amount and type of habitat to be covered.  All potential habitat in transects must be surveyed.  This may be accomplished by walking parallel to the beach in narrow habitat areas, or several parallel paths or more of a zigzag pattern may be required in wider habitats such as washover areas.  Transects will be surveyed slowly and thoroughly (large mixed flocks of roosting shorebirds especially need to be thoroughly and carefully searched in order to locate all species).  Monitoring will not be conducted during poor weather (heavy wind > 25 mph, heavy rains, severe cold) since birds may seek protected areas during these times.  The use of ATV’s or similar vehicles will not be allowed on the beach during surveys.

In the event that sand placement operations result in the direct take of a piping plover nest or chick, the contractor shall immediately notify Mr. Frank Yelverton, contract Technical Representative, at 910-251-4640, or if he is not available, contact Mr. Richard Lewis, Contract Officers Representative at 910-251-4755, Mr. John Hammond, Raleigh Field Office, US Fish and Wildlife Service at 910-856-4520, extension 28, and Mr. David Allen, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, at 252-448-1546.  Also the contractor will attempt to determine the cause of death and ensure that all banding data are recorded.

5.  Required Products:

a.  Monthly Status Report:  By the fifth working day of each month, a written letter report is required for the previous month’s activities.  This report will summarize sampling activities, preliminary results, and important observations.   These status reports shall also be used to discuss potential problems and solutions related to contract performance or conditions which may affect performance.  Monthly status reports must accompany requests for partial payment.

b.  Annual Project Report:  The first year of surveys under this delivery order will end on October 31, 2001.  After completion of the first year of monitoring, the contractor shall prepare an annual report in accordance with paragraph C.4. of the basic Scope of Work.  The report at a minimum must include:

(1)        description of survey data collection, methodology, results, and any problems,

(2)        discussion of the results including habitat value, apparent difference in survey areas, any apparent changes caused by beach disposal of dredged material, and any recommendation for improving the survey methods.

(3)        All field data sheets must be included as an appendix to the annual reports.

                  Ten (10) copies of the draft annual report must be submitted by January 15, 2002 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District, for review.  Twenty-five (25) copies of the final report must be submitted to the Corps within 30 working days after the date the Corps provides comments on the draft to the contractor.

6.  Additional Years of Surveys

a.   Description of Services:  At the sole discretion of the contracting officer, the contractor may be requested to perform additional surveys after the first year.  If requested, this surveying would begin November 1, 2001.  The need for surveying may span several years including before, during and after construction.  It is anticipated that task orders, if required, will be issued in one-year increments.

  

b.   The Description of Work may change each year, based at least partly on the previous year’s survey results.  The Contracting Officer will specifically define any additional years of surveying to be accomplished.  No additional years of surveying will be accomplished until specially authorized in writing by the Contracting Officer.  All work accomplished will be undertaken in accordance with the basic Scope of Work.