The Osprey Pole by the Halfway House research cottage on the Sandy Neck marsh trail has been around for almost 8 years without any nesting success. This year, for the first time, not only did an Osprey pair nest at this site, they also fledged 2 chicks! These birds were observed testing out their newly acquired flight feathers and navigating around the nearby Tree Swallow nesting boxes yesterday afternoon!
One of the most common questions we field this time of year, depending on Off-Road Vehicle access is “Why isn’t the ORV Beach open all the way yet?” While many people are aware of the Piping Plovers, a federally protected species of shorebird, there are actually several shorebird species that nest and fledge at Sandy Neck Beach including the Least Tern, another protected species. Depending and where and when these birds nest, certain sections of the beach may remain open or closed for different periods of time.
Both the Piping Plover and Least Terns nest in sandy and gravelly habitats between the high tide line and the toe of the primary sand dune in areas with little to no vegetation. These areas are generally highly desired locations for human recreation and can lead to conflicts of shared use.
Least Tern colonies can vary in size and location, and locations may change throughout the season due to disturbance from humans and predators, high tide inundation and other environmental factors. When Least Tern chicks hatch, they remain in the nest bowl for a few days before wandering up to 500+ feet from their original nest sight. Chicks will seek shelter in vegetation or near debris, but will begin to wander towards the shoreline as they age. Least Tern eggs and chicks are well-camouflaged and are difficult discern from the sandy/rocky habitats they are found in. Without proper protection, Least Tern eggs can be crushed by Off-Road Vehicles. Tire ruts can also create problems as chicks may become trapped within the ruts which prevents normal movements and may further expose them to negative interactions with vehicles.
Sandy Neck Shorebird Monitors work daily throughout the season to monitor these species and ensure proper compliance with both State and Federal Guidelines. This allows these rare birds the proper protection they require while at the same time allowing for recreational opportunities throughout the park. Through careful observation, proper protection and diligent monitoring, staff works hard to ensure that areas may once again re-open as soon as possible; as shorebirds begin to move, hatch and fledge. We want to thank all of our patrons for their patience and support during the season in providing these birds with proper protection, nesting and fledging opportunities.
Stay tuned-in to our Sandy Neck App for the latest updates regarding beach openings and Off-Road Vehicle access!
If you have any questions, please contact the Sandy Neck Gatehouse or speak to a Natural Resource Officer or Wildlife Monitor out on the beach!”
The Sandy Neck Staff wishes to extend a warm welcome to everyone for the 2018 summer season at Sandy Neck Beach Park!
With the 4th of July fast approaching we want to update you on Beach conditions. The Off Road Vehicle Beach is open .5 miles. The speed limit is 5 MPH. Park on the berm, 30’ from the fence line, with your headlights facing the dunes.
Campers may park with either their headlights or taillights to the dunes. We ask those campers who park with the taillights to the dunes to put their hang tags in the rear window of the camper for easy viewing! Daytrippers may park with campers. Daytripper area is well marked and no campers will be allowed to park in Daytripper area. Parking plan is available online at www.sandyneckbeachpark.com
The Sandy Neck Staff has been working extra hard to make this upcoming holiday a safe and successful one! In order to accommodate as many vehicles safely on the ORV (Off Road Vehicle) corridor during the peak times, Staff may assist in “stacking” vehicles during the parking process as conditions allow.
There will be NO two-wheel camper drive tests conducted from Monday, July 2nd through Sunday, July 8th.
There will be NO tow behind trailers allowed on the ORV corridor Friday, June 29th through Sunday, July 8th.
We expect a busy 4th of July Holiday and want everyone to have fun and remain safe! A couple of reminders to help you enjoy your time here at Sandy Neck:
1. On the ORV Corridor, dogs must be leashed at all times (15′ leash or less). No dogs allowed in parking lot or on public beach. No pets are allowed past the ORV closure line.
2. Fires are allowed in designated areas starting at 7 pm (please visit our web site for more information).
3. Per State of Massachusetts Fire Marshall regulations: NO Fireworks or Sky Lanterns are allowed to be set off from any beach.
4. No vehicles can enter the park after 9pm.
5. Curfew is 11 pm. You must be out of the park by that time.
Please call the gatehouse at 508-362-8300 with any questions
Thank you for making SandyNeckBeachPark your vacation destination!
For the last 12 years, the Town of Barnstable has worked hard to help protect the Diamondback Terrapin population at Sandy Neck Beach. The Diamondback Terrapin is a threatened species in the state of Massachusetts. It has been significantly impacted by both habitat loss and overharvesting throughout history.
While efforts are now in place to protect the Terrapin, it still faces many issues to this day. One of the conservation efforts in place at Sandy Neck is the Diamondback Terrapin Headstart program. Each year, a small number of nesting female terrapins deposit their eggs directly in the Marsh Trail, an area still used by some property owners to access their cottages. While these nests would otherwise be run over and destroyed, endangered species monitors are able to find these nests and relocate them to a safe location where they will be monitored until they hatch.
The hatchlings from these nests are then distributed out to schools and other organizations where they will be taken care of and raised throughout the winter. Upon release in early summer, these “headstart” Terrapins are about the size of a 3-year-old turtle in the wild, and their chance of survival is significantly higher.
While it is likely that the headstart program is having a positive impact on the Terrapin population, there has been no way to quantify these observations solely through population trends. Fortunately, through the help of Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Sandy Neck staff was able to begin “PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) Tagging” headstart Terrapins this year.
Each Terrapin is implanted with a small tag just under the skin of the rear leg. These tags do not require any batteries or maintenance, and will presumably stay with the animal for life. While these animal cannot be “actively” tracked through this tag, if they are seen again in the wild they can be scanned to see if there is a PIT tag inside of them. Much like a microchip for pets, these tags contain a unique ID code which will allow us to determine what year they were raised and even what classroom they were raised in. Along with additional data taken including measurements and weights, we can see how well these turtles are doing after transitioning in the wild even years into the future, should we encounter them again!
We are extremely excited to continue to expand conservation efforts for the Terrapin population here at Sandy Neck, and look forward to incorporating a mark and recapture study in the future through the use of these wonderful devices.
A reminder that the Town of Barnstable’s Public Terrapin Release will be held on Monday, June 25th 2018 at 5:30pm at Sandy Neck Beach. All members of the public are invited to join us as we say our last goodbyes to a few Terrapins that were raised over the winter. We will talk more in-depth about terrapin anatomy and conservation and watch as these majestic animals make their way back into the wild in order to live out the rest of their lives!
Screech Owl Rescue and Release: A Wildlife Success Story
by: Natural Resource Officer Sean Kortis
Last month, I was working in town when I received a report from Sandy Neck Park Manager Nina Coleman regarding a small owl that was trapped within the chimney of a home in Marstons Mills. I drove with Coleman to the residence where we located the owl in the back corner of the fireplace. At first glance, the owl was difficult to locate. Owls are masters of camouflage, and this particular animal happened to be a Gray-Morph Eastern Screech Owl. Needless to say, it managed to blend in quite well with the ash inside the fireplace, and it took a few seconds to realize that it was not just a charred piece of wood we were looking at!
After locating and identifying the owl, we started on a rescue plan. I donned the bulky wildlife rescue gloves (Screech owls may be small, but their talons are no joke) while Coleman staged a safe barricade in front of the fireplace, just in case the owl decided to fly out into the house.
While we had the advantage of a small, confined fireplace, the owl still managed to evade several capture attempts by ducking under the grate and hopping from side to side. However, we were ultimately successful in capturing the animal and placing it safely in our wildlife rescue bin!
While the owl looked to be in good health, we wanted to first transport it to the Cape Wildlife Center in order to get a proper check-up and determine if the animal could be rehabbed and/or released. As always, Cape Wildlife Staff did a wonderful job in helping us out with this animal. After a few good checks, it was time to bring the animal to the aviary to determine if it could safely and successfully take-off, fly, and land. We followed Cape Wildlife staff to the aviary and watched this owl nail all three tests flawlessly. Besides smelling a little bit like soot, staff decided this animal was healthy. A silent flight and graceful landing meant it was ready to return home that day!
Coleman and I were joined by Sandy Neck Operations Supervisor Donna Bragg on a quest to find a nice location for this owl’s release. A scenic cranberry bog bordering a forested pocket of woods on the outskirts of a nearby Marstons Mills neighborhood seemed like a perfect fit. On our walk down to the bog, an owl pellet was observed on the ground in front of us – perhaps this was the owl’s domain before it found its way into a chimney during the last harsh winter storm?
After opening the wildlife box and grabbing the owl, it did not take long to take flight and return to the forest it likely called home. Watching it fly off, completely silent, weaving through a maze of branches, was an incredible sight and and incredible experience; to witness such a majestic bird in-person.
Throughout the years, we have observed, captured and rescued a lot of injured wildlife. Unfortunately, many of these animals do not get happy endings like this one. But this experience was something that I will never forget. To see such a majestic creature receive a second chance is special and it makes it all worthwhile.
Time to get everyone caught up! Yes the Gatehouse was flooded not once but twice this winter! Bomb Cyclone Grayson put 14″ of storm surge into the Gatehouse on 1/4/2018 and then Riley came along on 3/2/2018 and hit us with 9″ inches of storm surge! So the Gatehouse has been redone twice in the past few months! We are pretty much back together and are now open. Here are some updates for you all.
Gatehouse is open for the month of April everyday from 9 am to 3:30 pm for the purchase of 2018 ORV (Off Road Vehicle) permits. We also have merchandise we are selling at a discount. Bomb Cyclone Underwater Merch! All of these items were under water from Grayson, they have been thoroughly cleaned and are on sale. Own a piece of SNK history while supplies last!
Now the other exciting stuff! We have the 2018 Resident and Non-Resident ORV Applications online on the front page of our website at www.sandyneckbeachpark.com
Scroll down and you will find them on the right side of the page under Notices. Print the application out, complete according to the instructions given and mail everything and we will process and get your 2018 ORV Permit in the mail. Make sure you include all the required paperwork, check and self addressed stamped envelope to make the process smooth. Your return envelope should be big enough so we can mail you the permit and the latest pamphlet of rules and regulations.
While you are on our website check out the new SNK App! This app will keep you informed and up to date regarding what is going on at Sandy Neck. Beach closures, weather, tides, everything you need to plan your day at Sandy Neck! Instructions to download the app are on the website. If you have any questions feel free to email me at: email@example.com
Other news. The front dune has been re-nourished. The storms had done a lot of damage and we had lost most of the dune. The lower parking lot is now open to park and the entrances from the parking lot to the front beach are now open.
Stay tuned for more updates. Happy Spring!
We wish the warmest Holiday season and thank you all for an amazing season!
There is a great selection of SNK merchandise at the Gatehouse for all your holiday shopping.
Give the gift of SNK this year!
Call the Gatehouse @ 508-362-8300 for an appointment.
New item just in!
Beautifully handcrafted SNK Skim Board.
Use it on the beach or hang it on the wall…
Last Wednesday, 15 hunters attended a meeting in order to secure their spot in the 2017 Sandy Neck Archery Deer Hunt. The hunt will take place this week November 20th – November 25th from 1/2 hour before sunrise until sunset each day.
The hunt will take place between Trail 2 – Trail 5. This means there will be No Off-Road Vehicle access beyond trail 2 during this time period (11/20-11/25) except for authorized archery hunters and property owners. The closed area will be well marked and gated off on the front beach – violating this closure will result in fines and/or ejection from the beach.
- While much of the ORV corridor will be closed to vehicles, it is still okay to hike along the front beach of Sandy Neck during this week. In fact, hunting is never allowed within 150 feet of the front beach, and as such, is one of the safest places to recreate during the season, especially for any concerned hikers who may be unsure of what the hunting season might entail.
- This is a special deer hunt, approved by the Town Manager, and only those who attended last week’s meeting and obtained valid authorization will be allowed to participate.
- No other hunting activity will be allowed between Trail 2 -Trail 5 during this week. However, other hunting seasons are still open and hunters may still utilize other areas of the park.
- A reminder that harassing hunters or intentionally disrupting hunting activities is prohibited and may result in fines and/or ejection from the beach.