April and May 2021
Exiting news! For the 14th consecutive year Piping Plovers have arrived and set up nesting sites on the shores of Wasaga Beach. Due to COVID-19 and ongoing restrictions, the Piping Plover Volunteer Program is currently on pause for the 2021 season. Wasaga Beach Provincial Park staff continue to monitor nesting sites and provide protection for the Piping Plovers by erecting perimeter fencing and predator exclosures.
Nest 1 – Fudge and Pepa
On April 19th the first plover to arrive was a returning male, identified as Fudge. He hatched in Wasaga Beach two years ago and nested along the stretch of beach adjacent to Boarkwalk 1. Favoured by our plovers since 2008, this stretch has become known as Ploverland. Fudge did not have long to wait for a mate. On April 25th the seasoned female Pepa showed up and a match was made. Pepa hatched at Sauble Beach in 2012 and nested in Michigan each year until 2016. For the past five years she has had successful nests in Wasaga Beach, pairing up with different males according to availability. Pepa has managed to persuade each of her mates to make a nest in her favourite place behind the boardwalk, requiring a detour around a short stretch of the boardwalk until the chicks hatch and move down the beach. On April 28th Fudge’s mate from last year, Nancy, showed up but it was too late – he was now fully committed to Pepa.
Pepa laid their first egg on May 12th and continued until a full there was a full clutch of four on May 18th. Incubation then began in earnest. The two adult birds continue to take turns on the nest and the eggs will likely hatch between June 12 and 15th.
Nest 2 – Flash and Miss Sunshine
April 29th another male, Flash, arrived. Flash has been on our radar for a couple of years. After having lost a nest here three years ago, he and his mate, Tweety, spent the next two years nesting in Tiny Township. The next day, Miss Sunshine, who has been a regular at Sauble Beach, showed up and paired with Flash.
Flash and Miss Sunshine could not seem to settle on a spot in Ploverland. After spending some time in New Wasaga they moved from there to Allenwood on the boundary to Woodland and Tiny Beaches. They laid their first egg on May 15th. When the time came to erect the full-sized predator exclosure, it was noted that there were only two eggs when there should have been four. This makes it harder to calculate the hatch date as it is unclear whether they started incubating two eggs as early as May 17th. The pair are now faithfully sharing the incubation duties.
Two more females came through on May 8th and 12th, but also moved on when they did not find a mate here. One was a chick from Nancy and Worsley’s 2019 nest.
Birds Canada has recently provided us with news from Michigan and the Great Lakes Piping Plover Conservation Program. We are excited to know that one of our 2020 Wasaga chicks has been seen with a mate at Silver Lake State Park. Our birds really do get around!