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.

30 June 2002

Missing Chick at the Channel

All four eggs in the Channel nest hatched three days ago and all the chicks were up and running around within minutes of hatching. As of this morning however, one chick is missing. This chick was noticeably smaller than the other three, and had been observed over the last couple of days straying away from the rest of the group on a number of occasions. It is unknown if the chick fell prey to a predator if it failed to thrive due to an underlying phsiological cause. It is likely that it was a bit of both.

24 June 2002

A Third Nest

More nesting news! A third nest has been discovered at Grand Beach. Its located near the closed Change-house on the East Beach and as the photo shows it is less pebbled than either the Parking Lot or Channel nest. When we found the nest, it already had four eggs in it and, as this section of beach is quite narrow and frequently used by pedestrian traffic, we have erected orange plastic snow fencing to provide some protection. As we don't know when the first two eggs were laid, it is impossible to estimate their hatch date. We will be checking the nest daily.

We have also discovered that the pair in Parking Lot # 5 have abandonned their first nest and have re-nested about 2 meters away. They are currently incubating another clutch of four eggs and we hope that this second nest will hatch in about four weeks. Re-nesting usually occurs if a nest has been disturbed or if the eggs are infertile. As the pair have re-nested so close to the original nest site, the nest wasn't abadonned because the adults were disturbed. Unfortunately because the birds have expended so much of their energy on the first nest, second nestings are not usually as successful - fewer eggs hatch and/or chicks are smaller/weaker. You can be sure we will be keeping a close watch on this nest over the next few of weeks - hopefully all will be well.

07 June 2002

Walking the Beaches

We have been walking the Beaches between Patricia Beach and Elk Island and while we have seen the occasional Plover, still no sign of more nests. Its a nerve-wracking activity. The birds are wonderfully camoflauged but their eggs are truly wonders of invisibility . Walking the Plovers traditional nesting grounds is a slow, meticulous process. It is necessary to walk at the water's edge and constantly scan the sand for the birds and/or sign of nest scrapes. Because the beaches along Lake Winnipeg are narrow and water levels change rapidly, nests can be closer to the water than expected. It is important when enjoying these beaches to assume that Plovers could be nesting anywhere. And remember than atv-use not only damages the beach ecosystem and is dangerous for nesting birds, it is also illegal in all provincially protected areas. Another human-related threat is "Man's best friend". Dogs are wonderful companions but they dangerous to nesting birds. They are curious and their natural instinct is to chase. As ground-nesters Plovers are of particular fascination for dogs. In provincially-protected areas, free-ranging dogs are not allowed in the water, on the sand, or in the dunes for the health and safety of beach-users. On non-protected beaches, please choose alternate routes for your daily walks during the nesting season. The safety and survival of the Manitoba's Plovers is everyone's responsibility.

01 June 2002

Eggs & Eye-Strain

Both of our Grand Beach nests (in Parking Lot # 5 by the Channel) now have four eggs. The adult Plovers are close to the nest at all times but are very difficult to spot unless you know what to look for. The best way to spot them in the nest enclosures is to sit on the sand (this makes them less nervous) and look for the white and black bands across their breast. Because our their colouration, it takes time and patience to spot them. If you wait, you may see the pair exchange duties or the incubating bird change position. It just takes patience and a little eye-strain!