The marsh has sprung back to life. After a long and cold winter, its exciting to see the changes that every new day brings. The fresh spring green, with all of the subtle shades, make the marsh a magnificent canvas. Thousands of shorebirds spend parts of their day at The Institute and surrounding marshes. We have learned that migrating, and even resident, shorebirds spend high tide in the marsh both resting and feeding. At low tide, they head off to their favored mud flats or beaches. Whimbrel, Short-billed Dowitchers, Dunlin, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, and Semipalmated and Black-bellied Plovers, move in beautifully synchronized waves through the marsh. Willet, Greater Yellowlegs, and Clapper Rails provide the symphony to accompany the undulating waves. Willet and Clapper Rails will nest here. The ospreys are back and six of the nearby platforms have nesting pairs – unfortunately our camera platform was not chosen again this year. We suspect that there are just too many birds in the area and their territoriality makes our platform undesirable because if a pair starts to check it out, they are met with challenges from nearby nesting birds.
Another amazing new arrival on the marsh is hopefully here to stay. Our new elevated marsh walkway stands boldly on the eastern side of the Salt Marsh Trail. The walkway builds on our capacity for mission focused research, education and conservation activities. Our goal was to provide access to the marsh ecosystem with minimal lasting impacting. New programs and research projects are being developed to help everyone see the wonders and beauty of the marsh. New research projects to document the effects of sea level rise on the marsh and on the success of marsh nesting birds will be started this year. Others await funding of critical research equipment and infrastructure improvements.
The new dock is open and we are excited to be back to our summer programming schedule. At the end of May, The Skimmer will dock at the pier for the first time since summer of 2012. It’s been a long time and a lot of work to get our dock facilities back. I am so pleased to say that we have built to be better than before. The new dock and walkway are critical pieces of the Plan for the Future Capacity Building Initiative at the Institute. We have made great strides to strengthen the Institute and become a Center of Excellence in Research, Conservation, and Education on coastal and wetland ecosystems. We have so much more to do. Please stop by and see all the changes. Talk with me about how you can be part of the solution. Renew your membership, become a volunteer, or make a donation. We are making no small plans. You can be a part of it.