New Birds on the Beach

May 24, 2017

At this time of year, many birds are searching for nesting sites, and/or stopping in to feed on their way to northern 

destinations. On Saturday afternoon (May 20), an unusual pair showed up to forage in the drainage ditch north of Huron Feathers.

 This little Piping Plover, with the bands X (561 over 501 showing), 

-- : O , Y (019) is new to the beach.  

While I have often seen Piping Plovers hanging out with Sanderlings, this is the first time I have ever seen a Dunlin/Plover pair! The Dunlin is identified by its rufous/black/gray patterned back, a black patch on the belly, and a long, downturned bill.

 It will likely spend its summer on the far northern shores of Canada, and was presumably only stopping over to rest and feed.  I don’t know why it was passing time with a Piping Plover -- would they have travelled from the south together? The Plover was definitely in the lead, with the Dunlin trailing along behind.

The really interesting part of this pair’s story happened later in the day.  They flew south over the lake at around 6:00 p.m.  I left Sauble, and was driving along the shore south of Gobles Grove

(Fire # 244), when I sighted them again, puttering along the deserted, stony shore, at around 7:15 p.m. 

 Thanks to Don K. for sending this information off to Sarah Saunders (who has access to all sorts of wonderful details on her database). We have been able to identify this Piping Plover as one of last year’s chicks from Nest 4 at Wasaga Beach.  Wonder where he/she will end up....

 As of today, there are 3 nests on Sauble Beach, and several other Piping Plovers have come and gone. Little 062 from last week has not been seen again this week. There is a pair that shows up near the north end of the beach (Bands X , Y/O/Y : O , Y  and

X , B ; O , B), but they were not there Saturday when I was at Sauble, and I have not been able to photograph them --- maybe this week!

At the north nest, near the rock pile, Green Dots and her mate have started the almost-month-long incubation process.

Ms. Green Dots:

 Blue Bands:

 Ms. Green Dots on the Nest:

 There are 4 eggs in Nest 1, and Ms. Green Dots and Blue Bands likely just started to incubate on May 20.  Stew N. and I watched as they made a switch, and he was able to get an amazing shot of the pair in mid-switch.

“Peggy" has laid 4 eggs in the south nest (Nest 2), and she and Mr. No Bangles are now incubating as well. Right outside the perimeter rope were the remnants of a thoughtless beachgoer’s meal, and the Gulls were enjoying some leftovers.  Human carelessness of this sort attracts predators to the Plover nesting area, and the chicks cannot survive if Gulls and Crows are hovering near waiting for an easy meal.  We have lost many Piping Plover chicks to these birds in the past years.

This nest is also dangerously close to the Volleyball Courts and the crowds of people that will arrive on Sauble Beach in the next days.

Against the odds, our Peggy continues to forge ahead. I think she should be the Poster Girl for 2017 with her spunky attitude, in spite of a fairly major disability!

 

  Flag Boy and his lady have chosen a nesting site between the other 2 nests (Nest 3). There is some vegetation and cover in this area, so it is hoped that, in spite of being on a busy part of the beach, Flag Boy and Ms. Sunshine will be successful in raising a family here. They have 2 eggs in a nest at this time.

Flag Boy is an “experienced" Plover, and has been an excellent father 2 years in a row at Sauble. 

Flag Boy:

 

 Ms. Sunshine:

And that is how Sauble Beach looks this week: 3 nests on the go and 6 little Piping Plovers trying their best to successfully raise some young.....

 

 

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