West Dennis Beach public lot closed due piping plovers birds

Piping plovers, the delicate little shore birds that nest along the Cape’s beaches, will have their own bodyguard in West Dennis.

Following the death of two birds near the volleyball court at West Dennis Beach on June 10, Dennis officials contacted the Mass Audubon Society’s Coastal Waterbird Program to help with an impressive number of plovers, according to Lyra Brennan, program director.

Brennan said Mass Audubon is providing plover-monitoring support staff for Dennis, something the organization hasn’t done in many years.

“We come in and bring our expertise and experience and say, let’s try this, or, let’s try this approach and see how it goes,” she said of the organization’s support efforts. “It’s been a couple years since we’ve been monitoring at public sites in Dennis. We do monitor private sites though, so we spend time in Dennis, just not necessarily in town areas before this partnership.”

A piping plover chick is dwarfed by a clump of seaweed seeking shelter from a strong southwesterly wind at Kalmus Beach in Hyannis earleir this month.  The plovers have forced a rescheduling of the Hyannis fireworks to September.  In Dennis, two birds were killed, closing West Dennis Beach's parking lot.  Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times

On June 12, the Dennis Beach Department said in a statement on Twitter the public parking lot of West Dennis Beach would be closed to all except essential vehicles due to a record number of hatched piping plovers.

On June 18, the Dennis Beach Department announced the lot was re-opened, however it was closed again two days later.

“Massachusetts is an important place for piping plovers. The state itself is a stronghold for the species,” Brennan said. “Cape Cod has so many miles of beach and West Dennis Beach has shoreline on the north and south side. When you have that amount of habitat that’s unprotected, the shore birds are going to show up and use it.”

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