On the afternoon of Tuesday, April 26, 4 little Piping Plovers arrived on Sauble Beach (and 1 showed up in Port Elgin), after their strenuous flight north. They spent a short time bickering among themselves, then got down to the serious business of eating and resting.
I arrived on Wednesday afternoon, and was thrilled to be met by one of the birds flying in over the water and landing close to me. He immediately started "piping" and telling me to move back! As soon as I was a suitable distance away, he began to move along the shoreline, finding small insects and other delicacies in the sand.
A little further north, a familiar face greeted me. "Flag Boy," nicknamed for his orange flag band, walked right toward me as if he thought that I should remember him from last year! He was able to fledge 2 chicks in 2015, and one was sighted in Florida over the winter. This particular bird is a little less worried about the presence of people than some of his friends. He has been a very attentive, protective parent, and it would be wonderful if he would find a mate on the beach again this year, and raise another family.
He ate busily along the shore, and then settled in for a little nap behind a log.
Not far from Flag Boy, 2 more Piping Plovers were resting in small piles of debris in the sand. They slept sporadically, and seemed very content to rest in the spring sunshine. After relaxing for a good 20 minutes or so, both little Plovers headed down to the shoreline for another meal.
All 4 of the Piping Plovers were wary of danger as they ate and rested. Apparently a Merlin had been on the beach the day before, and every now and then one of the Plovers would run to a pile of driftwood or vegetation, flatten itself on the sand, and turn its head to the side, looking up at the sky for signs of a flying predator in the area.
There were a few Ring-billed Gulls on the beach with the Plovers, and while they all seemed to be getting along fairly well at this point, the Gulls will not be welcome near the Plover chicks. Last year, Ring-billed Gulls took several chicks, and were a major threat to the young Plovers.
I left the beach at about 4 in the afternoon, and the Piping Plovers continued to enjoy the almost-deserted beach as they readied themselves for the busy season ahead...
Here's hoping that 2016 is a successful year for these amazing little birds!