Cheryl Ferguson

What’s Happening on the Beach?

Cheryl Ferguson Articles, Local News, Plover Lovers Committee, Sauble Beach

Hello Plover Lovers!

Wednesday July 22nd was another beautiful day for watching chicks on the beach!!

We were anxious to check out the latest nest to hatch (Nest 3) as we were informed that another chick had been lost, leaving the count to 1 out of 3 piping plover chicks surviving at this point in time.

The dad of this nest was standing on a mound of sand & debris looking intently into the foredune grasses. About 20 minutes later, the lone 17 day old chick (Band No: X,B(11?):O,B/O/B) came out from hiding and went to the shoreline with dad to feed. Dad foraged ~ 15 to 20m further down the beach and left the chick to forage fairly close to gulls & walkers. This surprised us as we felt he was giving the chick a lot of leeway and the chick did not seem to be very cautious.

At one point a beachgoer was walking south past the perimeter fence and stopped while the chick foraged at his feet ~ 1m/3′ away.
The beachgoer stood there a good 5 minutes before the chick moved back into the fenced in area. The dad was further down the beach and did not attempt to intercept or protect the chick.

Walkers were very respectful of the birds and some went out of their way by walking in the water to give the birds their space.

Later, Dad did come back to warn the chick and the chick retreated inside the perimeter fence.

Nest 2 was deserted, there were no signs of any PIPL’s. This nest had one viable chick out of 4 eggs and the chick was predated overnight of July 9 – 10.

Further down the beach there was no activity at Nest 1 and beachgoers had not seen any birds in the area.

We walked south past Huron Feathers and found the male & female whose 3 eggs from Nest 4 were predated last weekend. Nest 4 was on private property and although permission was sought to install an exclosure and protective fencing, we were advised that permission was not forthcoming. The nest was discovered on Wed. July 8, 2015.

This nesting pair appear to have been the pair that set the Great Lakes Piping Plover record for most nests in any year since the recovery efforts started. Refer to: https://themistnet.wordpress.com/…/great-success-for-glpip…/

At mid beach in front of Huron Feathers we heard a commotion and saw a couple of Ring-billed gulls and 3 PIPL’s. The male piping plover was doing the broken-wing display as he tried to lure the gulls away from the two 31 day-old chicks! This male lost 2 chicks to gulls when the chick were 6 days old.

The gulls soon took off and dad gathered the 2 chicks and flew out towards the water and then South along the shoreline. One of the chicks followed him and sustained a beautiful flight for approximately 45 – 50m. The second chick was able to fly half that distance.
Band numbers for our new chicks: C1: X,B/O:O (021) and C2: X,B/O:O(023)

We spoke with some people (2 children & 1 adult) who were chasing the birds. The older woman surprised us when she said she just wanted to see if the chick was ‘old enough’ to fly. She was very happy to receive a Piping Plover Tatoo!!

The ‘lonely’ piping plover (X,Y:O,Y (020)) that hatched at Wasaga Beach last summer is still hanging around offering his assistance to the dads when needed. Once the chicks are safe, dad chases him away!

The females from Nests #1, 2 & 3 were not seen so perhaps they are making their trip south to warmer weather.

Those of you in the piping plovers’ wintering areas be sure to keep an eye out for them and let us know if you see any bands!!