Platte River Recovery Implementation Program News

July 10, 2018

Each summer the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (Program) and its partners survey the river and off-channel nesting habitat to document least tern and piping plover abundance and productivity within the Associated Habitat Area (AHR) for the Program. Monitoring typically occurs from 1 May – 1 August; however, the monitoring season has been extended when least terns or piping plovers are known to be within the AHR outside of this range of dates.

2018 has been a successful year for least terns and piping plovers thus far with 80% (80 of 100) of least tern nests and 79% (37 of 47) of piping plover nests still active or successful. Similar to previous years, there has been a good distribution of nests across off-channel sand and water (OCSW) and sandpit sites throughout the AHR, but no in-channel nesting has been observed to date.

10 July, 2018

LETE Nests

PIPL Nests

Site

Active

Successful

Failed

Active

Successful

Failed

Lexington Sandpit

1

7

1

0

4

0

Dyer Sandpit

2

10

6

0

4

1

Cottonwood Ranch OCSW

0

0

0

0

1

0

Blue Hole Sandpit

0

9

7

1

6

4

Johnson Sandpit

0

0

0

0

0

1

Broadfoot & Sons Sandpit

0

0

0

0

1

0

Broadfoot South Sandpit

5

12

5

3

6

1

Newark West Sandpit

1

10

0

1

4

0

Newark East Sandpit

4

18

1

1

2

0

Leaman OCSW

0

1

0

1

2

1

Trust Wildrose Sandpit

0

0

0

0

0

2

TOTAL

13

67

20

7

30

10

Least tern and piping plover breeding pair graph

Early indications are that breeding pair counts for both species will be similar to the previous few years when the Program last made any substantial increases in the availability of off-channel nesting habitat. However, the chick-rearing season is now upon us so it is too early to get estimates of productivity.

July 10, 2018

Every spring and fall the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (Program) implements systematic aerial flights and ground searches to document the presence of whooping cranes within the Associated Habitat Area (AHR) for the Program. This monitoring typically occurs from 6 March – 29 April in the spring and 9 October – 15 November in the fall; however, the monitoring seasons have been initiated early or extended when whooping cranes are known to be within the AHR outside of these ranges of dates.
Between 9 October and 22 November, 2017, a total of 23 whooping cranes were detected by the Program’s monitoring efforts. These birds accumulated a total of 198 whooping crane use days, which surpassed the previous high of 121 that was observed in 2002.

Spring 2018 was a remarkable monitoring season for the Program. Between 6 March and 29 April, 2018, a total of 120 whooping cranes were detected by the Program’s monitoring efforts which surpassed the previous high of 65 observed in 2017. These birds accumulated a total of 489 whooping crane use days which surpassed the previous high of 194 that was observed in 2017.

Whooping crane observation graph

Since Program inception in 2007, the proportion of the whooping crane population observed within the AHR has increased significantly during the spring and has remained fairly steady during the fall.

Map showing whooping crane observation locations

During the fall 2017 and spring 2018 monitoring seasons many of the whooping cranes observed during systematic surveys were located on Program or other conservation organization owned lands.