After much anticipation and plenty of "beach action", eggs have been laid in two scrapes, and the nests are safely enclosed in wire coverings. Large areas of the beach are also roped off around the exclosures to give the Piping Plovers some space and privacy.
When I was on the beach on Thursday afternoon, "Flag Boy" and his partner were mating outside their exclosure, and we are hoping that there are more eggs in the nest by this time. (Usually there is one egg laid every other day until there are four, at which time the Plovers will begin to sit on the nest and incubate the eggs.) After mating, the pair went their separate ways on the beach, feeding and resting --
and taking time for a few yoga breaks!
The other pair on the beach has been trying for several weeks to begin the nesting process, and they have been scraping, mantling and mating, but no eggs have been found. While we were watching on Thursday, the male was scraping in the sand near the shore in a totally unprotected area, and trying to convince the female to join him in his chosen nesting spot.
She had different ideas, and was scraping in the debris up near the dunes.
Unfortunately three Crows were also scavenging in the debris near the female's chosen spot. Crows and Gulls will steal Plover eggs, and it is for this reason that an exclosure is placed around the nest as soon as one egg is discovered.
When the Piping Plovers make their hollows (scrapes) in the sand, they like to add bits of shells, stones, and sticks to their creations.
Camouflage ... or just decoration??
By Friday morning, the second pair of Plovers was finally able to start the nesting process. On his daily walk of Sauble Beach, longtime volunteer Don Kennedy found an egg in a scrape in an open area of the beach, and alerted MNRF. And the second exclosure and perimeter has been erected just in time for the long weekend. Hopefully by Monday the first nest will have four eggs, and the Plovers will begin to take turns incubating...