It has been an exiting few weeks along the Wasaga Beach shoreline.
This year’s excitement began on April 18th with the arrival of Fudge, a male Piping Plover, to Beach Area 1. One week later Flash (male) arrived, and the day after that, Pepa (female). The males immediately entered a battle for the coveted Pepa and the prime territory in the vegetated area on the west side of the Beach Area 1 boardwalk, aptly named Ploverland. However, the three quickly sorted things out. Fudge and Pepa were mates last year so together they staked their claim and Flash took off to check out other areas. Flash is a young male known amongst volunteers for his seemingly lack of experience and past questionable choices of nesting sites. Fortunately, three days later a fourth plover arrived, a seasoned female named Nancy. It did not take her long to find Flash, who had returned to where he nested successfully last year, a few kilometres past the Nottawasaga River mouth on the boundary of Allenwood and Woodland Beaches. With their territories claimed, the male birds made their scrapes (nests) at their respective sites.
Early morning on Wednesday, June 8th, Pepa and Fudge’s first chick hatched. Park staff watched diligently and by noon, three of the four eggs had hatched, Experienced parents Pepa and Fudge are attending their three chicks and taking good care of them. These lively and adventurous chicks are keeping them and the guardians busy as they explore the beach beyond the nest area. They now have their colourful leg bands and identification numbers for tracking where they are seen after they leave our shores
We are happy to have our Plover Volunteer Program back up and running. Volunteers had a great first week on site. Training took place on June 1st and 4th, and volunteers have been filling shifts since then. If you would like to sign up to volunteer or to learn more, please contact email@example.com
If you’d like to come see the chicks, come down during Ploverpalooza! This family-friendly event runs from 10am-4pm on Saturday, June 18th and Sunday, June 19th in Beach Area 1. Come down and learn about our plovers and participate in hands-on activities with park staff and volunteers.
On days 8 and 20 post hatch chicks went missing. One of the chicks, which is now a fledgling as it is flying, remains. The fledgling continues to fly in the nesting area of BA1 as well as areas to the east. Both parents have departed for overwintering grounds, with Pepa leaving first which is usual for female piping plover. The fledgling will head to overwintering grounds, which includes the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida and parts of the Bahamas, later in August.
Piping Plover Carving Donation
The Friends of Nancy Island and Wasaga Beach Park are thrilled with a recent donation of a life sized carving of a Piping Plover. This wonderful piece of art was created by Master Carver, Winston C, Smith, of Wasaga Beach. It is a perfect likeness of a plover with superb detail. The carving will make a great educational tool as it so accurately portrays a species of wildlife that very few people have the opportunity to see in nature. Thank you, Winston.
August 2022 – End of Season Update
The plover season has concluded for another year and from 3 nests around the Bay a total of 7 chicks were fledged – 4 from the Wasaga Beach Provincial Park and 3 from Tiny Township. All 6 adults were safe and left at the expected time. One (Flash) has recently been spotted in his overwintering ground in Alabama. The fledglings left at different intervals and are now all assumed to have begun, perhaps even completed. their migration.
We were very pleased to have two of our chicks from previous years pair up, and as first time parents we had the opportunity to name them both. The male was hatched in 2021 (parents were Flash and Miss Sunshine) and the female hatched in 2020 (parents were Fudge and Pepa). We named the male Ollie in memory of a dedicated volunteer we lost last year and the female was named Patty in recognition of the years Patricia Davidson coordinated the plover program on behalf of Ontario Parks. We were glad to see Patricia here this summer in a volunteer capacity.
Well done to our Friends contract staff member Hannah, to all Wasaga Beach Provincial Park staff who contributed to protecting the birds, to our volunteers for their time spent and to Birds Canada for the support they provided to the Park staff. Because the nest in Tiny Township was not on Park property, Birds Canada took the lead on the nest and its 3 successful fledglings.
Two other sites in Ontario fledged chicks – 3 from Presque’ile Provincial Park and 2 from Toronto Island – bringing the Ontario total to 12 fledglings.
Overall the Great Lakes had a very good year – in fact their best year since Piping Plovers were placed on the Endangered Species List in 1986! From a total of 72 nests 150 chicks were fledged along with another 10 from the Captive Rearing Program in the USA.
Due to rain and wind Ploverpalooza was rescheduled from June to July 15th and 16th. In total 813 beach patrons attended the educational event. 7 Discovery Staff, 1 Friends staff, 2 Birds Canada staff, and 4 volunteers (including 1 from Sauble Beach!) helped to run the successful event.
We are pleased to see plovers featured on some of the decorative garbage cans that were introduced to the park this year. Thank you to Shandelle McCurdie and crew fro painting the fun garbage cans located throughout the park.
We look forward to the return of our feathered friends next year!
For more information and updates about Ontario piping plovers, visit the Ontario Piping Plover Conservation Program.
For more information about the Great Lakes population in general (USA), visit Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Effort.