The first piping plover arrived on the shores of Lake Huron’s Sauble Beach on April 30th. It was a brave soul as there was pack ice as far as the eye could see. The persistent strong NW winds would not let up and Lake Huron’s ice continued to jam onto the shore until Victoria Day May 18, 2015.
By that time there were 4 piping plovers (3 males & 1 female) scurrying up and down the beach looking for food.
It has been a little over a month since the first males arrived and to date there has been a total of 12 identified piping plovers on the shores hoping to nest successfully.
Today, there are 3 nesting pairs of piping plovers on the beach and 2 single males, looking for partners.
The first nest that established is opposite F# 327. The male hatched in Ludingston State Park in Michigan in 2012 – he is sporting an orange flag on his upper left leg.
He paired up with a female who is no stranger to Sauble Beach as she has nested there in 2013 & 2014. They are sitting on 4 eggs that may hatch during the third week in June.
The second pair that is sitting on eggs is opposite F# 415. The first egg was laid on May 18th and the last egg (#4) should be laid anytime soon. There should be 4 chicks hatch within a month from now.
You can identify the male of this pair as he has no bands on his right leg.
His partner arrived on May 19th and word has it that she might have hatched at Sauble Beach as well.
The third pair both arrived on May 21 but their courtship has been delayed by a persistently amorous male who arrived on May 27th. There have been several spats, in fact all 3 have been seen dueling at the shoreline! The chosen male has been at Sauble Beach every year since 2011! The suitor has been quite aggressive and even after an egg was laid, he was still quarreling with the pair. You will recognize him as the piping plover with an orange flag and green band on his right leg.
Hopefully another female will arrive and settle him down!
There is one other lonely male looking for a partner. He can be seen feeding at the shoreline opposite the 2nd Street area.
You may notice that the 3 pairs look like they’re in a cage. This is called a predator exclosure that helps to keep ground & flying predators out.
The perimeter fence (rope & fence poles) is there as a reminder to give the birds their space. Fines will be levied if people go inside the fencing.
If a personal item lands inside the area, it has to stay there. It’s a good idea to throw balls etc in an east-west direction as far away from the fence as possible.
On Saturday a person was walking a dog off leash. The dog was running and jumping and having a great deal of fun. What the owner did not realize is that dogs are not allowed on the beach at any time.
The main concern that day was that we were expecting the third pair of piping plovers would lay an egg. As it was, the dog chased the pair of piping plovers into the water as they were approaching their future nest site.
The fine for having a leashed dog on the beach is $150.00. The fine for an unleashed dog is $300.00. The By-law officers have no set schedule.
We’d like to thank the volunteers who have spent time on the beach watching over the piping plovers and help gather data about the birds. It’s a relief to have the birds settled on their nests but we still have to be mindful of the many threats that this endangered species faces 24/7.
Please feel to approach volunteer monitors on the beach … they can help find answers to your questions and give you an update on these endangered birds.