Marine Ventures International, Inc. (MVI) provided shorebird monitoring services from May through June 2019 on behalf of Norfolk Dredging Company (NDC) for the Pinellas County Shore Protection Project in Pinellas County, Florida pursuant to the requirements of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) contract W912EP-13-D-0010. This year’s bird survey was a continuation from the previous year’s survey under the same USACE contract.  NDC provided beach nourishment of Upham Beach located on Long Key, a barrier island west of St. Petersburg, Florida. 

The cutter suction dredge, Charleston, was used to excavate approximately 200,000 cubic yards of material from the Blind Pass Inlet located northwest of Upham Beach to renourish approximately 2,000 feet of the beach.  The operations benefitted the local community of Pinellas County by increased fortification against storms for property owners and provided more area for recreational activities. The increased surface area on the beach, also, created a vital habitat for shorebirds and nesting sea turtles.

MVI’s bird monitor arrived every morning shortly after dawn, seven days a week to scan the beachfront of Upham Beach in preparation for another day of beach nourishment by NDC.  The monitor surveyed the beach for the location of shorebirds that had the potential to be affected by the disposed of dredged sand.

For the duration of monitoring, seventeen species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), or listed as endangered, threatened or species of special concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), were in the immediate vicinity of the project.  Observations of state-designated threatened bird species included the Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) and Least Tern (Sternula antillarum).  

There were minimal avian behavior disturbances due to nearby pedestrians. The estimated numbers of each species encountered were documented and their behavior recorded for submission to the FWC.  At no time were any negative impacts observed to any protected bird species surveyed due to the construction and dredging activities provided by Norfolk Dredging Company.