July 16, 2014

Resources update: Tern chicks and one
oystercatcher chick keep Point closed

By IRENE NOLAN

Though piping plover breeding activity is apparently over for the season, Cape Point will remain closed for now by an active least tern colony with chicks and one unfledged American oystercatcher chick, according to Cape Hatteras National Seashore officials.

The area can open as soon as the oystercatcher fledges and park biologists determine that all tern chicks have fledged.

Piping plover breeding had all but ended before Hurricane Arthur on July 4.  One active nest remained in the Point area and it was lost during the storm.

Five piping plover chicks fledged this year, compared to seven in 2013 and 11 in 2012.

Piping plovers are federally listed as threatened. Least terns and American oystercatchers are listed as "species of special concern" by the state, but the Park Service says it is obligated to protect them.

The resource closures in north Avon that last month closed the beach in front of oceanfront and oceanside houses have been removed. The area was first closed when a least tern nest was discovered on the northern village boundary and then extended for tern breeding activity.

Seashore superintendent Barclay Trimble said the loss of wildlife to Hurricane Arthur was minimal.

Shorebird losses on Hatteras included the piping plover nest at Cape Point, an oystercatcher nest at the Point, and one oystercatcher chick on South Beach.  On Ocracoke, two colonial waterbird colonies were lost, as well as a piping plover chick on north Ocracoke and an oystercatcher brood at South Point.

One turtle nest was destroyed on Hatteras and one on Ocracoke, but Trimble said other nests that were covered with sand may not survive.

Even though piping plover breeding should be over, he said tern scrapes are still happening.

Here is the status of natural resource closures post-Arthur and toward the end of the breeding season.

Note that references to two weeks refers to the fact that resources closures can come down two weeks after no breeding activity is documented.  Pre-nesting closures can come down by July 31 if no breeding behavior has been noted for two weeks. Park Service field technicians do surveys and then submit reports on breeding activity observations.

  • Bodie Island Spit.  Minimum of three weeks until it opens.
  • Ramps 23-25. Open to pedestrians. Ramp 23 closed to ORVs.
  • Ramps 25-27.  ORV route starting at Ramp 27 will be opened north for 2.8 miles tomorrow -- Thursday, July 17.
  • Ramps 27-30. Will revert to the pre-nesting closure on Monday, July 21, and be open to pedestrians. Pre-nesting closures come down July 31.
  • Ramps 30 to 34.  Closures remain in place with one active least tern colony with chicks.  Ramp 34 is open to pedestrians after reverting to a pre-nesting closure.  The natural resource closures that shut down the oceanfront beach in front of some houses  in June are gone.
  • Ramp 38. South of 38 there are two new least tern colonies setting up and one oystercatcher chick that will keep that area closed.
  • Ramp 43. Closure will be removed Friday, July 18,  opening 0.4 miles of ORV beach.
  • Ramp 43-44. No activity breeding activity and that closure will be removed July 31 or shortly thereafter.
  • Cape Point will remain closed with an active least tern colony with chicks and 1 oystercatcher chick.
  • Ramp 45 is open to pedestrians.
  • North Ocracoke. Pre-nesting closures will be lifted around July 31.
  • Ramps 68-70. Shoreline could open in next two weeks, depending on oystercatcher breeding activity.
  • South Point.  Pre-nesting closures come down about July 31.

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