As shoreline and larger island development reaches its capacity, smaller islands and shoals are increasingly becoming the objects of development. TILT works to protect the scenic and biotic resources of these undeveloped small islands and shoals, which hold significant importance to the region.
Over the years TILT has acquired a number of these small rocks and shoals in an attempt to protect them from development. In addition, TILT has been able to acquire all undeveloped shoals under one-half acre in size by quitclaim deed to conserve these disappearing habitats in perpetuity.
Rocks and shoals, although small in comparison to their surrounding landscapes, significantly contribute to the region’s biological community. These small – and numerous – outcrops, which at times may be above or below the water’s surface, provide essential habitat for both aquatic and terrestrial life.
Above the surface they provide safe nesting, feeding, and loafing grounds for a number of migratory bird species. Among them is the Common Tern, a species whose name can be found on the NYS threatened species list and considered a Species of Concern by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Each April for the past 20 years, TILT, along with Save The River and a number of volunteers, has installed exclusion grids on both Eagle Wings Shoals (purchased in 1991) and Tidd Island (donated in 2005). Terns preferred nesting habitat is open rock surfaces where they lay eggs in shallow depressions – “easy pickings” for hungry predators.
The grids are constructed using steel rods which screw into pre-drilled holes in the rock. Once all rods are in place, volunteers run galvanized wire north to south while running polypropylene wire east to west, forming a grid-like pattern. The goal of the grid is to create holes just big enough for Common Terns to drop through, but small enough to prevent larger predatory birds from gaining access.