Red Knots, Horses, and Sand Scraping

Red knots, horses, and sand scraping

A DNR/US F&W team was on North beach Tuesday planting flags delineating nesting areas for terns and other shore birds. These are well east of the dogs off leash area and well above the high tide line, so they are easy for beach walkers to avoid. While I was talking to them, we saw a large flock of red knots feeding at the water line. Red knots look a lot like plovers, but cluster in huge flocks–of several hundred birds. They are migratory, wintering in the Caribbean and nesting in the arctic. They’ll spend a month or so here, resting, feeding and gaining strength for their continued journey north. Storing energy is important, and the less they are disturbed, the more effective their R&R is on our beach. The DNR folks asked me to alert Seabrookers to the red knots presence and to caution against unnecessarily chasing them up. Although not endangered, red knots are on a federal watch list and thus of concern to wildlife agencies.

The DNR/USF&W team was particularly worried about people riding bicycles or horses into the flocks thereby stirring them up. I don’t think they had actually seen anybody do that, but they were concerned. So, here’s the point– red knots are easy to spot. If you are on the beach, walking, on horseback or on a bike and you see a big flock of small birds at the water line, give them a wide berth.

What’s this got to do with sand scraping? The latest beach survey from CSE shows substantial sand accumulation up at the northeast end of our beach (between the old and new Capn Sams cut), but minimal accretion and some continued erosion south of that and around the Beach Club area up the Edisto River. This is to be expected; the solution is to scrape sand from the northeast end down around Renken’s Point–as we have done in the past. We need permits to do that, and the POA will soon start the application process.

Our reputation among the wildlife agencies for how we treat critters like red knots can make the permit process easy or very difficult. Right now I think we have a pretty good rep with them. Let’s keep it that way.

(Photo Credit:  Wikipedia)

-John Turner, Town Council

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1 Response to Red Knots, Horses, and Sand Scraping

  1. Vince S. says:

    Sounds like one more very good reason there shouldn’t be any development take place on Cap’n Sams spit.

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