Piping Plovers – An Endangered Species

The Piping Plover is an endangered species. According to a Government of Ontario brochure I read recently, during the 1980’s loss of habitat and increased beach use caused the Piping Plover to disappear from Ontario beaches. Then in 2007, a pair of Piping Plovers successfully nested once again on Sauble Beach, Ontario located along the eastern shore of Lake Huron. Several agencies and community groups have cooperated to help protect the Piping Plover nesting on on this beach. Piping Plovers have successfully nested again this year at Sauble Beach and upon receiving word that four chicks hatched on June 21, the following day I made the three-hour drive up to see and photograph the event. To help protect the species, fences are erected to reduce disturbances to plovers sitting on nests. Additionally exclosures keep out predators while allowing plovers to come and go. Chicks can fly after 25 days; however, they generally stay on the beach a little longer looking for food to fuel their travel south. In the “good news” category, at least one pair of Piping Plovers was confirmed nesting near Hanlan’s Point on the Toronto Islands in Lake Ontario, the first time in more than 80 years (June 1934) since that was last observed on this island. Hopefully this means that Piping Plover is on the way back.

During my visit to Sauble Beach I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with some of the volunteers and government workers that monitor and help protect the Piping Plovers along the beach. One monitor, Don, had an interesting suggestion, which I decided to follow through on. He thought it might be of interest to volunteers, monitors and the general public to have access via my website to view a gallery consisting of a selection of some of my favourite Piping Plover photos made during my visit. So in addition to a few select photos here, if so inclined, you may wish to check out my Special Projects photo gallery here. I’ve based my chosen photos in the gallery on one or more of the following criteria: nice environmental portraits in good light; baby chicks moving about, interesting Piping Plover behavior, adults feeding on insects, and just about anything else related to Piping Plover that caught my fancy.

Above a nice simple portrait of an adult Piping Plover on the beach. I was grateful to have some very good natural light and a simple non-distracting background with only a thin sliver of the photo in focus along the plane of the plover.

In Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion he describes this pale plover of pale landscapes as follows. "When it moves, you see it. When it doesn't, you don't." I think the above photo illustrates this very well as the bird blends extremely well into its environment. 

Of course the highlight of my visit, in addition to seeing Piping Plover for the first time, was observing the chicks' behaviour both near and away from their parents. Above two chicks are preparing to seek warmth and comfort under their mother's body, while it looks like a third chick's legs are partially visible underneath mom. All four chicks that hatched were doing well during the three days I spent in the area. It appeared to me that one of the chicks was a maverick, always seemingly off exploring on his own, while more often than not the other three chicks tended to stay reasonably close to each other. If any of the chicks wandered a little too far away from mom, a call from her would summon her chicks back to safety, except of course for the maverick chick that took its sweet time heeding its parent's call.

I was amazed to see just how easily Piping Plovers caught insects along the beach. Above an adult Piping Plover is about to devour a tasty treat.

 

New Gallery Photos Added                Gallery

Piping Plover                                              Lapwings and Plovers

 

Happy Birding,

Claude

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