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The mood of cautious elation earlier this month shifted into heart-wrenching agony on June 20 and again this week for Sarasota Audubon volunteers. They saw what they had called an extraordinarily successful nest- ing season so far on Siesta Key devolve into scenes of vandalism and broken eggs. "We have a pretty amazing thing going on," Siesta Key Association (SKA) Vice President Catherine Luckner told the approximately 30 people present at that organization's June 5 meeting. She was referring to the dozens of endangered Snowy Plovers and Least Terns, joined by Black Skimmers, nest- ing in the vicinity of Beach Accesses 4 and 5. Altogether on the beach this season, she con- tinued, Sarasota Audubon volunteers had counted eight Snowy Plover nests, with one chick hatched already, and 31 eggs that could mean more "cotton balls on toothpicks" by the middle of the month. The description of the baby birds was offered by Luckner's husband, Bob, who coordinates the work of the vol- u n t e e r s o n S i e s t a K e y. A d d i t i o n a l l y, Newly hatched Least Tern chicks enjoy a meal delivered by their parents. Contributed photo by Catherine Luckner VANDALS STRIKE NESTING AREA AMID A RECORD-BREAKING SEASON, SARASOTA AUDUBON VOLUNTEERS ARE CONTENDING WITH PEOPLE DAMAGING POSTED ZONES AND DESTROYING EGGS This is going to be the most exceptional breeding season Siesta Key has known [perhaps in centuries]. Allan Worms Sarasota Audubon Volunteer Siesta Key NEWS

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