Birds gone, TTOR reopens Cape Poge gut vehicle access

A bird's eye view of Cape Poge and the elbow. — Photo courtesy of Google maps

Updated 12:10 pm, Friday

The Trustees of Reservations has reopened the back over sand vehicle trail to Leland Beach and much of the front vehicle trail.

Drivers can now travel from Dike Bridge to Wasque Point, one of the premier fishing shore fising spots on Martha’s Vineyard.

Last week, The Trustees reopened the oversand vehicle trail along a portion of Cape Poge Reservation on Chappaquiddick known as the “elbow.”

It provides access to Cape Poge gut, the channel that connects the bay to Nantucket Sound, a distance of approximately 1.25 miles.

The beach trails are popular with fishermen, birders, and beach-goers. Vehicle use was prohibited to protect nesting shorebirds.

The plover chicks have fledged (gained the ability to fly) and predators destroyed the remaining least tern nests located on the vehicle trail at the elbow, The Trustees said.

Chris Kennedy, TTOR Martha’s Vineyard superintendent, said there is one nest on the outside of Leland Beach. That area remains closed but is expected to open soon.

There are two unfledged chicks on the the Chappy side of Norton Point Beach. That spot is also expected to open soon.

Despite lengthy beach closures to protect nesting shorebirds from human disturbance this summer, nature continues to take a toll.

Mr. Kennedy provided the following report for conditions last week:

Trustees staff found 16 plover nests. Predators that included crows, gulls, or skunks destroyed four nests before the eggs could hatch. Plover parents abandoned three nests before the eggs hatched.

“So, from 9 active nests we ended up with 11 piping plover chicks fledged to date — four of those fledged chicks came from the Elbow,” Mr. Kennedy said Thursday. “We currently have 2 unfledged plover chicks at Leland and at Norton Point Chappy.”

Mr. Kennedy said that as a rule of thumb, plovers have 3 to 4 eggs per nest.

“Also, not all of the eggs from a nest hatch all the time. For instance, this past week a clutch of 3 eggs were in a nest on Leland. Two of the eggs hatched, one did not. Of the two that hatched, our shorebird staff watched while one of the chicks was eaten by a crow within the first 48 hours. One chick from that nest still remains.”