Group seeks volunteers to keep eye on plovers
The Brunswick News
By NIKKI WILEY
March 9, 2012

Lydia Thompson doesn't want to see Jekyll Island's plover population dwindle any further.

The sand-dwelling birds are an important part of the island's ecosystem, said Thompson, a birding enthusiast and employee of Wild Birds Unlimited, a birding supply shop on Jekyll Island.

The birds keep the ecosystem in balance and feed on pests that may bother beachgoers.

Most plovers in the United States are found between North Carolina and Texas. About 6,000 are left in the world. That's why Thompson is launching Operation Plover Patrol.

Volunteers are needed for the patrol that will consist of two-hour sessions in which individuals will be asked to sit or walk along the beach and take notes on a prepared worksheet. "The plover patrol can help interest casual Jekyll Island guests about the natural and ecological value of our beaches by explaining and interpreting the interrelationship of plants, animals and humans to their environment in a factual and interesting manner," Thompson said.

Through the patrol, Thompson hopes to establish data for accurate plover counts on the island and increase understanding of the birds' behavior and the relationship between them and humans.

Plovers nest in the loose sand above the dunes on the south end of Jekyll Island. The lightly colored birds easily blend with sand, making it easy for island residents and visitors to overlook them. Lack of education
about the function of the dunes as a bird habitat also poses a threat to the shorebirds, Thompson said.

Awareness about the birds and their habitat is vital to ensuring that their population becomes sustainable. "A lot of people are not from our coast and they don't understand our dunes," Thompson said.

Sign on to volunteer for Operation Plover Patrol, call Lydia Thompson at 912.270.2995 or email birdjekyll@gmail.com. Bird counting surveys will also be available at the Jekyll Island Welcome Center.