There was plenty of Plover action on Sauble Beach last Thursday when I visited. Seven birds at various spots along the shore were getting down to the important business of courtship and mating, and four males were working hard to convince three females of their suitability as mates.
The first pair that we found was toward the northern part of the beach, and the male was a Plover that has been at Port Elgin for two years now, earning himself the nickname of "Port Boy."
In 2014, he was able to successfully raise four chicks at Port Elgin. (One of the chicks appears with him on the Home Page of this site.) He spent much of last summer on the beach of Port Elgin piping and scraping, and waiting for a female that never appeared. This year he started off at Port Elgin, but has now decided to try Sauble as a potential site to find a mate. On Thursday he was spending most of his time trying to impress this little lady...
He threw sand around in the air (see first photo), showing her how capable he was of nest-building, then tried to impress her with a really special pile of debris that he had found along the shore.
He moved a few sticks around, piped a bit, and it looked like he might be successful in convincing her to set up housekeeping for the summer. Time will tell.
A little further south along the beach, another pair of Piping Plovers had made some commitments to each other, and were busy courting and mating. He really impressed her with his "goose-stepping" and mantling. It was cold and windy on the beach, and the little pair spent quite awhile just sitting together in the scrape, piping softly.
Once the wind died down, this pair made their way down to the shore to feed in a small sand bank that has appeared at the water's edge.
Moving further south along the beach, I found three Piping Plovers feeding together. Two fed and rested in close proximity, and seem to be "a pair" -- one of these is our "Flag Boy."
There was not a great deal of interaction between these two when I was there, but they have been enjoying each other's company for several days now, so hopefully.....
The last Plover that I saw on the beach was a male that spent last summer waiting for a mate. There were more males than females last year, and he has been "Mr. Lonely" again this year so far. He scraped and piped, then went down to the shore to feed.
So...will there be three nests at Sauble this year? Will Mr. Lonely find himself a mate and establish a fourth nest? Stay tuned!
And keep an eye on the sky.......