Re: Loss of Frank's Dump shorebird roost

Noah Arthur

Thanks for the info Ben. It is most unfortunate that we have to choose between habitat for Snowy Plover and all migrant shorebirds, when before we were able to accommodate both. Is it because someone vandalized the water control structure last year that we still cannot let in a controlled amount of water that doesn't flood plover nests but allows for migrants to roost?

I know a lot of shorebirds roost at Eden Landing; however, those flocks don't penetrate north to Alameda South Shore (Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary, etc.), the Oakland shoreline, Albany mudflats, etc. As far as we know, all the small shorebirds that foraged in these more northern areas of the East Bay shoreline, roosted at Frank's Dump. The Eden Landing birds just don't "commute" that far north.


On Tuesday, July 5, 2022 at 06:46:59 PM PDT, Ben Pearl <bpearl@...> wrote:

Hi all,

As I did last year, I can provide clarification on the situation at Franks Dump. The pond is currently drier to support breeding snowy plovers, which as most of you know, are a federally threatened species (technically only the pacific coast distinct population segment, which extends 50 miles inland from the coast). I counted thirty plovers at Franks on Friday, which represents over 10% of the entire 9 county bayside population (~280) and over 1% of the entire coastal population (~2750)! We are monitoring a number of active nests on the pond, and based upon behavior observed on Friday, expect a couple more to be initiated soon. Included among the observed plovers were eight banded individuals, including one adult each from Point Reyes and Fort Ord State Beach, two juveniles and three adults from Eden Landing, and maybe most exciting of all, an adult that we banded at Franks Dump as a chick back in 2020 (2020 pic attached for cuteness)!

There is not a set date to add more water to the pond, but rather, it will be based upon when it is safe to do so without flooding out plover nests and/or placing young chicks at risk of predation (last year when water was added before all of the nests had hatched gulls ate one egg/chick that was last to hatch from the nest). We will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with EBRPD to determine when that is. As far as East Bay high tide roosts, I can only speak to the areas that we work at, but I can tell you that Eden Landing directly to the south of Hayward Shoreline provides an extensive amount of (and possibly overall better) habitat for shorebirds of all sizes. We regularly see mixed flocks of shorebirds that number in the many tens of thousands in just one managed or tidal pond. What makes Franks Dump unique is it being directly next to a mud flat and publicly accessible,resulting in the ability to look for rarities at high tide. Nevertheless, I would encourage you to visit the public areas of Eden Landing and see what you might find.

Aaron, as far as the large flock of willets you observed, I first noticed large numbers of returning shorebirds (including willets) at Eden Landing on June 21, and have since observed more shorebirds returning around the bay.

Good birding,


On Tue, Jul 5, 2022 at 5:17 PM Aaron Maizlish <amm.birdlists@...> wrote:

I don’t know what the status of Frank’s Dump will be this year, but I think you are once again speculating the worst-case scenario without first inquiring with the relevant authorities.

I suggest you phone EBRPD tomorrow and find out if they have set a date to flood the lagoon, hopefully before the sandpipers arrive en masse, and if there is any indeed any equipment failure as you have a surmised. I do recall that you raised a very similar alarm last year right around now, and it turned out to be a false alarm. 

If you are not comfortable talking to authorities directly, perhaps you should contact SFBBO or another conservation organization that maintains long-term relationships with the resource managers.  They can also reassure you that there are many other high tide roosts in the East Bay that are regularly monitored, although you could be right that Frank‘s Dump is qthe best one.

And in other East Bay shorebird news, I made a quick stop today at my old stomping grounds on the Emeryville Marina, where there were 120 Willets at the high tide roost, mostly in breeding plumage. I can’t imagine they stuck around the last few months, although I never checked, so I guess these are early arrivals/failed breeders(?). 

Happy shorebirding, 

Aaron Maizlish 
EBB group moderator

On Jul 5, 2022, at 4:36 PM, Noah Arthur via <> wrote:

Most unfortunately, I have heard that Frank's Dump is completely dry this year, with no shorebirds using it as a roost. I remember someone vandalized the water control structure last year, meaning that the pond can only be completely empty or tidal (there's no way to moderate how much water flows in). I guess park management has now set it to be completely empty. 

This is an incalculable loss to East Bay birding, and more importantly to the migratory shorebirds that use our shorelines as a critical stop-over area. As far as we know, Frank's Dump is the only major roost site for small shorebirds in the entire northern 2/3 of the East Bay shoreline. Some of the larger species can roost in deeper or more vegetated marshes (such as Ora Loma Marsh), but peeps and plovers are too small to roost in these areas and absolutely need flat shallow places like Frank's Dump. For these species, the loss of this one site is equivalent to losing all the habitat in the entire northern and central East Bay shoreline. The effects I'm seeing right now are dramatic, even this early in the season. Hardly any shorebirds smaller than a Willet are showing up at Elsie Roemer or Middle Harbor, etc., despite peep and plover migration being well underway. They're coming through but not stopping or at least not lingering. 

I don't know if there's any way for EBRPD to fix this regrettable situation. I know we had a similar situation at one point last summer, which was rectified by the park service opening the water control structure and allowing the tides to flow into Frank's. That worked excellently, but there's probably a good reason why that is not the current arrangement anymore. 

Noah Arthur (Oakland) 

Ben Pearl, M.S.
Plover and Tern Program Director
San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory
524 Valley Way
Milpitas CA 95035
Office: 408.946.6548 ext 206

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