By Jonathan Vargas and Antonieta Valenzuela / Terra Peninsular
Between June and September of 2018 the campaign “The beach belongs to everyone” was carried out with the objective of promoting the good use of beaches and protecting migratory birds, mainly the species known as snowy plover.
The main objectives of the campaign were to:
- Reduce the disturbance that affects shorebirds by installing a temporary fence on the beach to protect nests and pairs of snowy plovers and increase the reproductive success.
- Rescue and rehabilitate homeless dogs.
- Perform environmental education activities.
- Avoid motorized vehicles at bird nesting sites.
The members of this campaign were Pacifica at Ensenada Bay, Contacto Salvaje, ZOFEMAT, Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CCA), Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), Ellos Son La Razón and Terra Peninsular.
To protect the snowy plovers, a temporary protective fence of 4831 square meters was installed in playa Hermosa in June, in front of Pacifica at Ensenada Bay. This fence was removed at the end of October.
During the breeding season, monitoring was carried out and in total 16 nests were recorded, of which 5 nests were found within the protection fence and of which only 3 survived (each with 3 eggs), so in total 9 snowy plovers were born inside the fence. It is a small but significant sum in the conservation of this species.
With the aim of reducing the disturbance caused by dogs, between June and October, 23 abandoned dogs were rescued in the area of La Lagunita and up to now 8 have been rehabilitated and given for adoption.
Awareness activities were also carried out, including a beach cleanup in September in which 950 kilos of garbage were collected in 1 kilometer of the beach in front of Pacifica at Ensenada Bay, this was achieved thanks to the support of 200 volunteers.
In the same way, the technical work was started for the regulation that prohibits vehicles on the beaches and for which 6924 signatures were collected in the petition “No more vehicles on the beaches of Ensenada”. The petition is available at www.laplayaesdetodos.com
To follow up on this project, the campaign will resume in the summer of 2019 to coincide with the snowy plover breeding season, this will be carried out with the support of the Coastal Solutions Fellows Program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
About the snowy plover
The snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus) is a small white shorebird that breeds every year on the sandy beaches of Ensenada between April and August. There are currently 2900 Pacific snowy plovers that are distributed from the coast of Washington, Oregon, California and Mexico, of which 6.8% of the population is on the beaches of Ensenada in winter, and 1.4% is present during the summer.
It is a species protected by the Mexican government in the category of threatened, that is, susceptible to extinction in the future if no relevant conservation actions are carried out.
The snowy plovers put their nests on the sand and camouflage with the environment, this works so that the eggs are not seen by predators (for example, hawks and coyotes) but they run the risk of being easily crushed by people or run over by motorcycles
Another of the dangers they face is garbage that is confused by food, as well as hungry homeless dogs that eat eggs and chicks that scare away the parents of the nest leaving it unprotected.