By Denis Langlois, Sun Times, Owen Sound
Thursday, April 28, 2016 12:52:52 EDT PM
Piping plovers are back at Sauble Beach.
Four of the endangered shorebirds have been spotted this week so far on the Lake Huron shoreline in the South Bruce Peninsula community, according to the local Plover Lovers group.
Sauble Beach resident Don Kennedy was the first person to see the birds. He said he snapped pictures of them in the area of 2nd and 3rd streets north Tuesday.
The next task, the Plover Lovers group says, will be to identify the bands on the birds’ legs to determine if they have been to Sauble before or are new to the area.
Piping plovers were near extinction on the Great Lakes in the mid-1980s. Their population has since rebounded to about 70 pairs thanks to government-led conservation efforts and the help of numerous volunteers.
The birds, which are protected by both the federal Species at Risk Act and provincial Endangered Species Act, returned to Sauble Beach in 2007 after a 30-year absence.
Piping plovers arrive on the shores of the Great Lakes between mid-April and mid-May to begin their nesting season. They migrate north from their wintering grounds in the southern United States and Mexico.
Last year, 15 piping plover eggs were laid by four adult nesting pairs at sites along Sauble Beach.
Eight chicks hatched.
Five were later killed by predators. The local group believes three chicks successfully fledged and headed south.
Each summer at Sauble, volunteers, under the directive of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry, monitor and help to protect piping plovers while they’re nesting and until the chicks fledge.
Exclosures are placed around nests to protect the nesting birds and their eggs from predators, which include ring-billed gulls and dogs.
A large area around the exclosures is then roped off.
The Plover Lovers group is looking for people to serve as volunteer monitors for the 2016 season.
An orientation and training session is set for May 31 at 7 p.m. at the Sauble Beach Community Centre.
Visit www.ploverlovers.com for more information.
Note: In 2015, a record 75 pairs of Piping Plovers nested in the Great Lakes region. The pair at the 4th nest at Sauble Beach was recorded as the 75th pair.