Piping Plovers and Canada Day
It was a busy weekend on Sauble Beach as people celebrated Canada Day and the end of another school year. Fireworks were set off on Sunday evening, and the beach was packed with sun-seekers on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Thankfully, all 7 Piping Plover chicks and their parents survived the weekend, and lived to see another week.
The North Nest birds continue to do very well. They were feeding together along the shoreline, and were finding plenty of food to eat. Their little bills were usually caked with wet sand!
When they weren’t down by the water, they were running through the vegetation under the watchful eyes of 2 parents --- until Monday night, when Ms. Green Dots took her leave. She has stayed with her chicks for about 2-1/2 weeks, and it is time for her to head out, along with other “Mom” Piping Plovers. She was sighted once again this past week, but Dad has been doing the bulk of the chick care.
The young birds make good use of debris and driftwood along the shore for cover and camouflage. This little one sensed danger, and scooted under a branch, where it remained completely still for several moments before venturing out again.
We can see the bands clearly on all 4 of the chicks, and if we look really closely, we can see numbers on the bottom left black bands, and dots (like their Mom’s!) on the upper right orange bands.
Wings are starting to sprout tiny feathers in preparation for flight in the next few weeks, and the birds are beginning to look more like adult Piping Plovers in their colouring as well. And yes, Don, they are starting to get their little black tail feathers!
Someone had left a canoe at the north end of the perimeter, and one of the chicks spent a fair bit of time checking out the life jackets that were on the ground in the sand. From a distance, our babies are still pretty tiny.
As always, it was a pleasure to watch the “North Family” of birds as they went about their normal Piping Plover activities in a relaxed, comfortable manner. It has been a long time since PIPLs have been able to raise their young in such a stress-free location on Sauble Beach.....
Flag Boy and Ms. Sunshine have been able to raise 3 chicks of the 4 that hatched in their nest near Fire # 327, and as of Monday, these chicks were about 10 days old. It is unusual for chicks to be taken by Gulls or Crows after the “10-day mark”, and we hope for the best for these feisty little ones. They spend a great deal of time outside the perimeters of their area, and do most of their feeding in the marsh grasses, especially to the south of their nest.
They are challenging to photograph; they are excellent “hiders” --- and this is a wonderful thing! If we humans can’t find them with our scopes and binoculars, then maybe the Merlins will have a difficult time locating them too.
Mom often broods the chicks just inside the perimeter in fairly clear view, but there is still plenty of vegetation to conceal the birds.
Of course, even Moms need a break sometimes, and Ms. Sunshine makes good use of her free time to feed and bask along the shore.
Here’s hoping for continued success for this little family.
Congratulations, Flag Boy --- you have done it again! What a great Dad you have proven to be again this year in your choices of a nesting site and a capable mate.
You deserve to do a happy dance!