Drones, Sludge: An Environmental Report

A pair of environmentally conscious readers have asked “06880” to convey some important messages. I’m happy to give them both the talking stick today.

Nature lover J.C. Martin noted in a recent Roundup that oystercatchers frantically attack drones — thinking they’re predators.

American oystercatchers — and many other birds — will do anything to protect their young. (Photo/Tina Green)

He unearthed some fascinating facts. For example, The Spruce says:

When drones are flown too close to rookeries or bird nests, the noise and unfamiliar presence of a drone could drive adult birds away. This can lead to neglect or abandonment of vulnerable eggs and chicks, reducing the breeding success of sensitive bird populations.

Some birds, particularly raptors, are very territorial about their nesting areas, and if drones are perceived to be a threat, the birds may attack the remote vehicles. This diverts the parent birds from caring for their hatchlings, foraging or otherwise tending to their own survival needs. Birds that attack drones could also be injured by moving blades or other parts of the equipment.

Birds that congregate on leks for courtship displays can be particularly sensitive to disturbances, and if a drone appears to be a flying predator, the birds may scatter prematurely. This can drastically impact their ability to find suitable mates, and if the lek is not revisited, it may take generations for birds to find and begin using another suitable site with the same success.

If a drone disturbs a foraging bird, the bird may abandon a good food source and be forced to seek less abundant or nutritious resources. This type of disruption can have a catastrophic impact on overall bird populations, as malnourished birds do not breed as successfully or raise as many healthy chicks.

Hold that drone!

Drones are banned from Connecticut Audubon Society sanctuaries. Click here for details.

If you see a drone flying over a protected area, call local police. If the protected area is on state property, call the Connecticut Environmental Conservation Police: 860-424-3333.

And if you don’t care about birds, consider your drone. Large predators are more than capable of destroying it!

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Meanwhile, longtime Westporter Elaine Marino worries about the Saugatuck River “sludge” she sees lapping at the corner of Parker Harding Plaza, near the pedestrian bridge and “Starfish” sculpture behind Rye Ridge Deli.

Elaine says: “It appears to be composed of plant material (algae,  grasses, reeds), oils of some type and some trash. I am concerned because I saw ducks swimming near the sludge.”

Parker Harding “sludge” (Photo/Elaine Marino)

“I would be happy to use a pool leaf skimmer net and try to remove as much as I can, if that is advisable. Do ‘06880’ readers have any thoughts? I want to make sure I do the right thing.”

If you’ve got ideas for Elaine, click “Comments” below. If the answer is “go for it,” she will!

5 responses to “Drones, Sludge: An Environmental Report

  1. How thoughtful of Elaine. Wish there were more people like her in the world. We need Eve one to care about our community. Totally go for it.

  2. I warned earlier of drone activity at Compo Beach. I stopped flying there in the spring because of the birds reaction to my drone. But since I have stopped flying at Compo, I have still noticed many drones flying close to the birds nests.It is really easy to figure out where they are and I hope fellow drone pilots can just back off from this area for a few more weeks.

  3. Joyce Barnhart

    Elaine, I expect that Earthplace could give you some advice. The phone number is 203-557-4400, per their website, earthplace.org

  4. Nathaniel Martin

    It is most likely decaying plant matter and road and fertilizer runoff, however it appears to be near the old landfill, so it could also be landfill leachate. Whoever is responsible for landfill closure must ensure leachate is not released, especially to waterways. CTDEEP has a spills hotline, and will require the responsible party to investigate.

  5. Jennifer Howe Rosen

    thank you for sharing this important info

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