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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : With last piping plover chicks fledged Gordons Pond beach reopens at Cape Henlopen State Park

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Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

With last piping plover chicks fledged,
Gordons Pond beach reopens at Cape Henlopen State Park  

LEWES (July 18, 2014) – The last of this year’s newly hatched piping plover chicks at Gordons Pond have fledged and are flying well, allowing the reopening of the oceanside beach today at Cape Henlopen State Park. A half-mile stretch of the shoreline at Gordons Pond was closed to vehicles and pedestrians starting in May – an annual temporary closure – to protect nesting piping plovers and other beachnesting birds from disturbance during their breeding period. 

This season, two pairs of piping plovers nested at Gordons Pond and one of the pairs produced four chicks. As many as three pairs have nested there in past years. American oystercatchers and least terns, both listed as endangered in Delaware, also nested at Gordons Pond this season. 

On the Point, two plover pairs are still caring for their chicks, while a third pair is still incubating their nest. Least terns and an American oystercatcher pair also continue to incubate eggs, with hatching expected soon.

Just as the beachnesting bird breeding season ends at Gordons Pond, the sprouting season for seabeach amaranth has begun, with three plants found in the area this past weekend. This rare species, like the piping plover, is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Seabeach amaranth grows in the same kinds of habitat where piping plovers nest and usually begins sprouting in July in Delaware.

The dunes and interdunal areas at Gordons Pond remain closed to the public year-round to protect seabeach amaranth plants and numerous other rare species and plant communities that exist in this area.

For more information about beachnesting birds or monitoring efforts, please contact Wildlife Biologist Matt Bailey at 302-382-4151 or email

About the piping plover
The piping plover was listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1986, and the Division of Fish and Wildlife is responsible for its protection in Delaware, where Cape Henlopen is its only current nesting area. Under a binding agreement and subsequent species management plan that DNREC made in 1990 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the federal agency with oversight of this ESA-protected species, piping plover nesting areas at Cape Henlopen State Park are closed annually to the public to protect the shorebirds from disturbance during their March to September nesting season, including the Point and smaller areas around Gordon’s Pond. The closure, which must include feeding habitat as well as nesting areas, has been successful, increasing the number of piping plover nesting pairs from a low of two pairs to a high of nine pairs. Piping plovers feed on small invertebrates that inhabit the intertidal zone near their nesting territories. Chicks are not fed by their parents, but rather are led to the shoreline to forage while the adults keep watch for potential threats. Allowing pedestrian traffic in the intertidal zone adjoining nesting areas would disturb the vital link between nesting and foraging habitat and risk adverse stress or mortality to the chicks. 

Vol. 44, No. 247
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