Look at that little face! How can he have been "lonely" all this time? The good news is that Mr. Lonely (Male 3) has finally been able to attract the attention of a female, and they have established a nesting site with eggs in the grassy area of Sauble Beach near Huron Feathers. The site is roped off, the nest is enclosed, and incubation is happening.
Female 4 ("Ms. Green Dots"?) is a lovely little lady, and she may have been the female that spent a day with Port Boy before leaving for several days. She was likely a runway model in another life -- she is certainly photogenic, and is not camera-shy at all. She spends a great deal of her free time in the little ditch that runs to the shore in the access point in front of Huron Feathers.
F4 has 2 green dots on her upper left orange band. Coloured dots were used for the first time last summer (2015) in the States on Great Lakes Piping Plovers as a way to differentiate chicks in the same brood. (Red, green, blue and yellow dots are used.) At Sauble, we use numeric codes on the blue bands.
I was on the beach last Friday afternoon, and M3 and F4 had not yet decided on a nest site. She was feeding and puddling in her drainage ditch for several hours, and he was back and forth between the shore and his chosen scrape in the reeds.
At one point when he went to the shore, he was joined by a Sanderling that seemed a little confused about its identity...
It followed the Piping Plover along the shore, feeding and staying quite close, and the two were even joined by a Ring-billed Gull for a short time.
Mr. Lonely returned to his scrape, and the Sanderling decided to trail along. It followed him from the shore to the reeds, and watched as the Plover scraped and piped for his mate. At one point the Plover turned and looked at me as if to ask, "What am I supposed to do about this?" Eventually he had had enough, and gave the Sanderling a bit of a chase away from his scrape. The Sanderling headed back down to feed along the shore,
and the little male Piping Plover was finally free to court his lady. F4 came over to a scrape in the sand, and he met her there for some mantling and piping.
Then they both ran back to his scrape in the reeds, and mating began in earnest. By the next night there was an egg, and by Sunday morning an exclosure had been erected to protect the nest. Here's hoping that 4 tiny Piping Plovers will be emerging from eggs a month from now (26-30 days), and that "Mr. Lonely-No-More" and "Ms. Green Dots" will be able to successfully fledge a brood of little ones.
Heading north along the beach, Flag Boy (M2) and F2 are taking turns incubating eggs and feeding along the shore. She was doing most of the sitting and he was doing most of the eating while I was there, but he has been a responsible dad in the past, and I am sure that he took his turn!
_________________________________________________ A bit further north, M1 and F1 are doing the same thing. Their nest is very close to the shore, and is at risk of being washed out in a storm. We will hope for good weather until chicks appear.
And so, as of today, 3 pairs of Piping Plovers are nesting on Sauble Beach. Port Boy (M4) continues to be alone further north along the beach; however, there was a report today of another bird in his area, and some scraping was happening. Maybe.......