June 2017 Kids are almost out of school and finally the weather has given us a hint of the summer to come. For the wildlife at Sandy Point, the summer season began a while ago. The shorebirds arrived in May and already the American oystercatchers have established nests and some have hatched young. On a recent trip out, we saw piping plovers, oystercatchers, some least terns, and a black skimmer cruising the shoreline.
The full moon in May also signaled the beginning of the amazing horseshoe-crab migration to the island for nesting: a trek that has gone on for thousands if not millions of years. Thwarted by weather conditions and other circumstances, Avalonia stewards at long last kayaked to the island in June. They counted and tagged the returning crabs. Later they will paddle out again to look for the nests, hatchlings, and juvenile crabs that take refuge in the calm waters on the north side of the island.
As we have reported over the last several years, Avalonia Land Conservancy has entered into a very supportive relationship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage the island. It had become impossible to juggle the critical needs of the wildlife to reproduce and survive with the wishes of the island-loving public accustomed to enjoying the island’s sandy shores and inviting waters for generations.
The Fish and Wildlife Service now provides experienced wildlife biologists who will study the protected species, note where they nest, and provide protection for them. They will also be available to educate the public, answer questions, explain the rules, and see that the rules are followed. An informed visitor is far more likely to be compliant and actually help with the effort to preserve and protect the places we all love.
The biggest concern is dogs on the island. As much as we all love our beach buddies, dogs are seen as predators and are therefore forbidden from the entire island, at all times, even on leash. Please observe this regulation.
Last but not least, preservation is expensive and, as in the past, there will be a fee for usage of Sandy Point to help offset this expense. The U.S.F.W.S. has developed a fee scale that is fair and less expensive than in previous years. They will continue the relationship with the Stonington Community Center (COMO), which will assist with the management of the process to obtain passes. You can go directly to COMO if you choose, or go to the COMO website and link to Summer Beach Passes.
A direct link to purchase passes is: http://www.thecomo.org/sandy-point-beach
Please bring the pass with you and a personal ID while visiting the island, as stewards will check for them. They will be required from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
It truly is a small price to pay to be able to enjoy the beautiful island beaches and waters, but also know that your purchase goes to support the stewardship of the island to protect and preserve it for all who visit or call it home. We will keep you posted on the seasonal changes out there. In the meantime, get your passes and enjoy the early summer pleasures of one of Avalonia’s gems: Sandy Point Island.