Piping Plovers of Sauble Beach 2019
On Sunday, May 5, we spent a beautiful sunny afternoon on the beach, hunting for Piping Plovers. The birds have been somewhat elusive, travelling between Wasaga and Sauble, or just ... pulling a disappearing act some days! We walked from 6th St. North to the top end of the beach, then returned to 6th St. again, and found 3 Piping Plovers in that area. Although it was sunny and bright, there was mist over the sand that made photography challenging, and some of these photos are not as clear as they might be....but we can see the bands fairly well.
The first Plovers that we found were foraging at the shore near the Lakeside Village Store. Ms. Green Dots was with Mr. Blue Bands for the third year in a row, and they have been successful parents at the North end of the beach.
Ms. Green Dots (hatched in Michigan in 2015) has been on Sauble for 4 years now. Her bands:
O (green dots), O/Y : X, --
Mr. Blue Bands (Sauble 2014) is Ms. Green Dots’ mate for the third season on Sauble. His bands: X, B/O : O, B (025)
When we travelled back (South) along the shore, around 2:00p.m., Ms. Sunset was feeding alone at the water’s edge. She was quite fascinated by a dock that had washed up in the storm, and walked over it several times.
Ms. Sunset (Wasaga 2015) was on Sauble last year with Mr. New Blue Bands.
Ms. Sunset’s bands: X, Y (062) : O,O/Y
We stopped for a break at 6th St., then headed South in search of more birds. Just below Huron Feathers, around Fire #213, Mr. New Blue Bands (hereafter shortened to “Nublue”!) was resting on one leg in a patch of Coltsfoot on an area of the beach that has not been eroded away.
This little Male (Wasaga 2016) had a nest with Ms. Sunset last year (Nest 3). They nested quite late, and only 2 of their 4 eggs hatched; one chick was not strong enough to leave the nest, and the other was depredated after a few days.
Nublue’s bands: X, B (094): --, O
(It was awhile before we could see his bands, because he was standing on the one leg that had no band at the top!)
Ms. Sunshine (Wasaga 2014) lost her mate and 3 chicks to predators last year. I couldn’t see her at first --she was sleeping in a scrape behind her mate.
Ms. Sunshine’s bands: X, Y/O: O, Y (025)
Here is a photo of Ms. Sunshine from 2018 in better light and in the open. Bands are much more easily seen...
When these 2 woke up, they had a little walk around, then went to the adjacent hillock, and didn’t waste any time starting their family.
They walked down to the shoreline, where they were joined by Ms. Sunset. Nublue gave her a good chase; he obviously didn’t want to reconcile, or didn’t remember that they were together last season! Poor little lady--she will need to find her own mate.
And so, on Sunday May 5, there were 5 Piping Plovers on Sauble Beach. 2 pairs are actively scraping and preparing for the nesting season, and 1 is still searching for a partner.
It remains to be seen how the eroded beach and high water levels will affect our Plovers this year. The little birds are certainly, as always, persistent and hopeful!
*Thanks to Monika for keeping notes and “spotting” so well, and thanks to Judy for cleaning up the garbage on the beach.
As always, thanks to Don Kennedy for constantly keeping us motivated and up-to-date with the comings and goings of our Plovers.
No Plovers were harmed or harassed in the making of this blog!