We are currently monitoring Nest 3, which is not being incubated by either parent today. On Tuesday, the female (F4) seemed to be caring for the nest on her own. She spent time incubating, then would leave the nest unattended for up to two hours at a time as the male did not arrive to relieve her. Based on volunteers’ observations, she continued to incubate intermittently on Wednesday but no switch-offs with her mate, Mr. Lonely (M3), were observed. Mr. Lonely has not been seen since Tuesday morning, and neither parent has been seen in the nest area today.
As we consider what this could mean, it is important to note that nest abandonment can occur for several reasons. Adult mortality (one or both parents) can lead to abandonment, as can perceived threats. Adult piping plovers remain wary of repetitive or intense disturbances in the immediate area of the nest. If adults are scared, they may abandon a nest for their own safety. Human disturbance such as motorized vehicles on the beach can cause the parents to abandon healthy eggs. In particular, volunteers have seen dogs and dog tracks on the beach. Off-leash dogs are a known threat to Piping Plovers as they can injure/kill adults or chase them off the nest, but even a leashed dog can disturb these birds (reminder: dogs are not allowed on Sauble Beach). We are uncertain of the reason for the parents’ disappearance, but will continue to update about Nest 3 as we acquire more information.
Some good news is also coming from Sauble Beach this week. The mating pair that lost a nest to high water last week has been observed courting and mating, so there is still the possibility of re-nesting for these two. Port Boy, Sauble’s lone male, has been making attempts to woo a female that has been visiting him sporadically for the past two weeks. We are cheering him on!
Nest 1 was under threat on Sunday, when high water levels and wind caused a creek to overflow within the perimeter fence. The water came dangerously close to the nest as there was no drainage back to the lake, however luck was with this pair. Over time, the water seeped into the sand and the eggs were spared. We are looking forwarding to these chicks hatching, which could happen any day now!