Piping Plovers at Sauble Beach – End of season

Piping Plover guardians Kim and Brendan Toews bring us a final update for the 2010 nesting season at Sauble Beach.

A sincere thank you goes to all the community members who volunteered this season as Piping Plover Guardians at Sauble Beach.

Sauble Beach will soon be empty of Piping Plovers, except for an occasional few passing through. They will all begin their migrations to the Gulf Coasts where they will feed in small flocks until next April, when we’ll be watching the beaches for their return. It is our hope that the Piping Plovers will survive to return to Sauble Beach in 2011. Until then…

17 July, 2010

We had many international visitors last year. One group from Buffalo, New York were so interested in the 2009 Sauble Beach Piping Plover Recovery Project that they returned again this season to help us out as guardians monitoring our birds. We really appreciate their continued support!

Nest 2 (M1 & F2): The male chased F1 from Nest 3 until she left the area. Chick tried to brood, but could only fit its head under the male’s wing.

Four Sanderlings arrived on their fall migration and fed on the beach. Merlins seen in the area today.

Nest 3 (F1 & M5): Switch-overs continued every 90 minutes. Male observed limping when foraging south of nest area. Guardians will continue to monitor him.

18 July, 2010

Nest 2 (M1 & F2): Male was vocalizing a loud, persistent pipe. Guardians were alerted to this and observed two, possibly three merlins flying over to the east.

Nest 3 (F1 & M5): Male is having some difficulty walking. Guardians are monitoring the situation. The male is still feeding and incubating and we are watching for any signs that he is having trouble doing either. The male will soon be doing much of the chick rearing. Female was off of the scrape twice to chase the male from Nest 2 away from the area.

19 July, 2010

Many visitors today. Children bringing their parents by to see the plovers. It has been a great season, and beach visitors have been so helpful and supportive of the recovery project. We have had many positive comments on how helpful our guardians have been.

Nest 2 (M1 & F2): Chick observed taking two flights. One was very short and the other approximately 70 metres.

Nest 3 (F1 & M5): The male is mostly using one leg as the injured leg is hanging somewhat loosely. He is still able to forage and incubate. The male does use his injured leg a bit when entering the exclosure, but even shifting positions while on the scrape seems a bit difficult. Guardians will continue to watch him closely. The female was feeding north as far as the Nest 2 exclosure.

Sanderlings are still in the area.

20 July, 2010

Nest 2 (M1 & F2): The chick flew about 30 metres today. A Least Sandpiper arrived on the beach and has an injured leg that is not working well. The sandpiper remained close to the male. Everywhere that the male went the peep followed. Usually the male chases any other birds in the area, but he seemed content with the peep shadowing him.

Nest 3 (F1 & M5): Switch-overs still occurring and 4 were timed at 45 minutes apart. The male continues to struggle with getting inside of the exclosure, but is still foraging and incubating. Guardians are monitoring the male’s behaviour. The female left the eggs at least three times this afternoon and evening to feed around the exclosure.

21 July, 2010

Nest 2 (M1 & F2): The male and chick fed and rested throughout the day. Several short flights were seen.

Nest 3 (F1 & M5): One of our guardians had a really good look at the male. This plover seems to have a thread dangling a bit from his injured leg/foot. The male and female are still incubating. The male sits much lower on the scrape. The female is more easily recognized now as she sits more upright.

22 July, 2010

Nest 2 (M1 & F2): Several short flights were taken by the chick today. The male and chick were observed feeding, resting and sunning themselves.

Nest 3 (F1 & M5): Officials from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Canadian Wildlife Service were on site today. A fine line (fishing or perhaps from a kite) had wrapped around the male’s leg. The line was removed, as was the lower colour band and an antibiotic ointment was applied to the wounded area. Officials are uncertain about the future of the male’s leg/foot, but at least now he has a better chance of survival. Guardians will continue to monitor this plover and their monitoring focus will switch more to this nest now.

23 July, 2010

Nest 2 (M1 & F2): Chick appears to be eating more and it is about the same size as the male. The female from Nest 3 was foraging with these birds most of the afternoon and evening.

Nest 3 (F1 & M5): The male had a thread removed on his non-injured leg and monofilament removed on his injured leg. He seems to have adjusted to his leg/foot problem and continued to incubate the eggs for more than 7 hours while the female was foraging with the Nest 2 male and chick. M1 seemed content to have this female close by, as he didn’t chase her away when she approached like he had on previous occasions. Both birds from this nest were observed poking at and moving the eggs on the scrape when they readjust.

24 July, 2010

Nest 2 (M1 & F2): The chick is now able to fly proficiently. The chick will build up the strength and ability to migrate to the Gulf Coast for the fall and winter.

Nest 3 (F1 & M5): The nest has been abandoned. Neither plover was observed incubating the eggs today. The male was observed foraging south of the nest while the female was seen north of the nest. The eggs were clearly visible in the scrape and were collected by OMNR later on. Fox tracks were reported around the exclosure.

Thanks, Kim and Brendan, for all of your updates this year! This endangered species has definitely benefitted from the volunteer guardian program at Sauble Beach, and we’ve been excited to bring this on-the-ground news to our followers. We look forward to hearing more next year.

Read all of the 2010 Piping Plover updates from Sauble Beach: