A view of the plover exclosure/perimeter fencing. Thank you to St Noel Carbanel Elementary School in Wasaga Beach for their Piping Plover signs this year!
Ploverpalooza, which celebrated Piping Plovers this past Sunday in Beach Area 1, was a success! We are glad so many people came out to see and learn about Piping Plovers and to get involved in our games and activities.
Unfortunately, over the past few days, Salt and Peppa’s final two eggs did not hatch. The eggs are collected and will be sent to the University of Guelph for examination. Wasaga Beach has a current total of 6 piping plover chicks.
A portion of Allenwood Beach remains closed despite Alfonoso and Piper not being seen, as there are fresh Piping Plover tracks and indications of nesting activity in the enclosed area!
Salt and Peppa’s chicks arrive in time for Father’s Day! Two of the pair’s chicks were observed hatching late in the day yesterday. The final two should hatch within twenty-four hours of the hatching of the first chick. Chicks gain 60% of their weight within their first three weeks of their life. It is important not to disturb the chicks while they forage for small invertebrates (sawflies, ants, bees, beetles) along the shoreline.
The chicks are busy feeding, brooding and running on the beach today.
The eggs hatch! Worsley and Nancy are parents again! By noon today two chicks had hatched and the other two were soon to follow. The chicks were running and feeding themselves within a few hours, but won’t be able to regulate their body temperature for about a week. The chicks will often be seen huddling with their parents to stay warm. Please keep in mind that these images have been taken with a telephoto zoom lens on a camera and that the adults and chicks still require their space.
A recap of the season while we wait for the eggs to hatch:
Nest #1 – Worsley and Nancy (nest nearest to the volunteer hut, west end of Beach Area One); chicks expected soon!
Nest #2 – Doc and Peppa (nest mid Beach Area One); chicks expected soon!
Nest #3 – Flash and Tweety (nest eastern end of Beach Area One); we are awaiting eggs after the loss of some eggs due to high waters!
Nest #4 – Alfonso and Piper (Allenwood Beach), 4 eggs were predated upon by a small predator. We await a new nest with our fingers crossed. The area around the nest remains closed as the pair may nest again in the same location.
Our plovers are busy incubating their eggs! See the three nests below and notice their similarities and differences! As of May 24, there are six known piping plover nests across Ontario, with three Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, two at Sauble Beach and one at Darlington Provincial Park.
With active nesting in Beach Area 1, visitors to the beach will find sections of the beach temporarily closed to the public. The closure provides a secure location for the piping plovers to continue with nesting activities and incubating duties. Both adults in a pair will incubate the eggs, taking turns while alternatively foraging for food along the shoreline. You can help be a steward for these endangered birds by staying to the outside of the closed area. The closed area is marked with perimeter fencing and educational signage. Please keep food away from the area and use garbage cans as food can attract gulls, which are a predator to plover chicks. There are many volunteers that can be located around the closure that will share information about the birds and their habitat. They will also assist you with trying to locate the birds with binoculars and spotting scopes!
We now have three pairs of Piping Plovers battling for territory! Confirmed as a pair in Beach Area 1 are Worsley and Nancy, who have re-established their pair-bond from last season. Our second pair of the season includes Peppa from 2018, recently paired with a new male named Salt. Her previous mate has not return to Wasaga Beach. Lastly, a potential third pair is currently displaying courtship behaviour and we eagerly await the discovery of their nest. Once an egg is laid, a mini-exclosure is placed over the eggs to protect them from predators. Female plovers will lay four eggs, with one being laid every other day until all four are laid. We are excited to announce that another female at the site is Tweety, which means that all three females from last season have returned for the start of 2019.
Calling all volunteers! We are looking for both new and returning volunteers to help with our 2019 Piping Plover Recovery Program. As a volunteer you will be involved in sharing information about the birds with the public, monitoring bird behaviour and spreading stewardship messages about our beach. Interested and returning volunteers please visit http://pipingplovervolunteers.blogspot.com/ for more information.
Please click here, through Bird Studies Canada, to register as a Piping Plover Volunteer: http://www.birdscanada.org/news/piping-plover-volunteers-ontario Both new and returning volunteers must register through the Bird Studies Canada website (via above link). Once registered, you will be contacted by Wasaga Beach Provincial Park’s Beach Stewardship Coordinator prior to beginning your volunteering. All volunteers will be required to attend either one of the two training sessions at Nancy Island Historic Site:
May 24 from 5:30pm-7:30pm
June 9 from 1pm-3pm
Mating has begun! Prior to mating, the male will make a nest scrape in the sand using his feet and body. Sometimes shells or rocks are placed in the nest. Once the scrape is decided to be perfect by the female piping plover, which she decides by sitting and moving around in it, she exits the nest and walks around while the male does a mating dance. The dance looks like high stepping, or marching, on the spot! When the mating dance is over, mating proceeds!
Our first male plover of the season, Worsley, has arrived! With his arrival, the piping plovers are busy chasing each other to mark territories, testing nest scrapes, doing mating dances and taking quick flights around the area.
We have five female piping plovers! Tweety, Peppa, and Nancy have all returned to our shores. We also have two females with bands that show that they have nested at Sauble Beach. Now, we just need some males! Last year’s young always leave the wintering grounds last. Hopefully some males will be on the way soon.
The past few days have been wet and snowy. The plover nesting area has been wind blown and flooded. Piping plovers are resilient and stay warm by taking shelter behind driftwood and amongst the vegetation.
Wasaga Beach welcomes Ontario’s plover of the season – a lone female!