After three bittersweet months, the Piping Plover nesting season has drawn to a close at Sauble Beach.
The male from Nest 5 has been caring for the chick alone since yesterday afternoon, when his mate took off up the beach to begin feeding and likely preparing for her trip south. This diligent dad was chasing gulls, sending up alarm calls for the chick, and doing a wonderful job watching over it. Unfortunately, with the very busy weekend drawing in large groups of gulls, the remaining chick was taken by a juvenile gull this afternoon around 3pm. From here on, we will be watching to see when the male and female leave the beach.
We have seen many ups and downs since April when the first Piping Plovers arrived, and the ending to the year is not what we had hoped, with no chicks fledged. So many factors have played a role in this, and we often felt helpless as onlookers. It’s difficult not to form an attachment as we watch the birds day in and day out, so there is a palpable sense of loss both on a personal level and in terms of the conservation of the species. As heartbreaking as this is, we have been fortunate to have shared some incredible moments. From spotting the first bird on the beach to finding an egg in the sand, the plovers have amazed us time and time again. Volunteers and community members have been integral in the effort of supporting these endangered birds. We can’t thank them enough for all they do for the Piping Plovers. Their dedication has been unwavering.
With another season come and gone, it’s time now to look ahead. Next year, we want to grow our volunteer base and reach out to more people, far and wide. We hope that some of you who have been following the plovers this year will think about joining us next year. They face many challenges at Sauble Beach, so the more support they have, the better their chances of success.
Lastly, thank you to all who stopped on the beach to talk to the monitors. Your interest and support have been so important to us and you help make our job exciting and rewarding. Sharing the wonder of a hatching chick with a group of onlookers will certainly be a highlight of this year, and the joy that the chicks brought to everyone this past week will not be forgotten. Don’t forget to check in with us on the beach during next year’s season!
We will continue posting about Sauble’s Plovers and more throughout the off-season. A 2016 season summary is still to come.