Piping Plovers are small, endangered shorebirds in Manitoba. Its call is described as a "plaintive peep-lo" which made it the perfect name for this blog as it too is a plaintive call, a Call to Action.

29 May 2010

A Bright Spot on an Ugly Day

The wind is howling. The rain is coming down sideways. I'm wet, I'm cold, I'm down. We haven't seen a piping plover on the west side of Lake Winnipeg in a week. I follow the tracks of a 4x4 half-ton truck that someone the previous night had decided to take on a joy-ride down Gimli beach. Then, when I least expect it, there it is, like a spotlight on a movie star in Hollywood, a plover. The colours vibrant, the orange bill and legs shining like the chrome on a classic car. I watch, transfixed, as it scurries along the sand, nestles down in a scrape, jumps up, runs some more, nestles down, eyes me and then ignores me. I am elated. Suddenly, I'm no longer cold, the rain feels like a light sprinkling. But where is the female? After all, it takes two to tango.


26 May 2010

Rewarded with a Whimbrel

No plovers. I visited the Clandeboye Bay Special Conservation Area on Lake Manitoba for the third time this spring. Only a decade ago, it was a nesting area where you were nearly guaranteed to see two or three pair of piping plover. Today I was shutout yet again. Killdeers feigned broken wings, spotted sandpipers teetered along the shore and sanderlings raced along the beach trying not to get their feet wet. Pelicans glided overhead, western grebes danced on the water and a nighthawk and Franklin's gulls twisted and turned as they gobbled up newly hatched insects, but the sweet, plaintive 'peep-lo' call of the piping plover was missing. The beach was not complete without it. However, not all was despair. As I scoured the SCA for plovers, I noticed a large sandpiper standing on a piece of washed up driftwood. When I placed my binos on it, I was startled to see the long downcurved bill, diagnostic of the Whimbrel. This was only my second sighting of this tundra nester, ever. As I left the SCA, I could not help think what of the Whimbrel? Is it the next shorebird to be placed on our list of threatened and endangered bird species? I hope not.

Ken Porteous
2010 Piping Plover Guardian

25 May 2010

Piping Plover Season has Begun!

The plovers have returned to Grand Beach and we have had a sighting of a lone bird near Gimli! We have found our first nest at Grand Beach which means that by this time next month we will have our first piping plover chicks running on the beach.

If you are interested in volunteering, please call us at 204-945-6817!

Ken Porteous
2010 Piping Plover Guardian