This morning I arrived at 5am to check on the plovers and two young guys were building a fire right next to the Piping Plover sanctuary. I watched from a distance for a moment as they built up the fire, and then they crossed the beach to leave. I called the police to come put out the fire and asked the guys, hey what’s up with the bonfire? Their mysterious response was that they were coming back to add more wood. They left via the footbridge and a few seconds later, the police arrived to extinguish the fire.
Building a fire where children will shortly be running around in the sand is a really, really dumb idea. Not only that, but the PiPl family were super stressed, which is not usually the case during daybreak hours.
At about 5:30, two crows entered the sanctuary, eating garbage that had blown in. The parents were very distracted by the crows. At an opportune moment, when the chicks were on the opposite side of the crows and garbage, I ran into the roped off area and removed the enticing chicken remains, and chased away the crows. Crows and gulls are only on Good Harbor Beach in great numbers because of the garbage left behind. If there were no garbage, there would be no gulls and no crows.
Thank you to all who are watching out for the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plover Family! Reports throughout the day from the Piping Plover monitors tell of folks who are curious and interested in the welfare of the chicks. One of our little babies has gone missing, but the three remaining are doing beautifully. They are growing rapidly and getting better at following the parent’s voice commands. In the early morning and evening, for the most part, the chicks go in and out of the symbolic roped off area. During the heat of the day, the chicks stay closer to the grassy dune edge, seeking shade from the sun.
At sunrise this morning it was foggy and chilly. The chicks needed extra cuddling under Mom (ten-day-old chicks).
Interestingly, there is a male interloper. He was first reported by my husband about a month ago, when Tom called and said you have to get down here because the Piping Plovers are fighting! I hurried over, and sure enough an epic battle was taking place between our nesting pair and the strange male. I filmed the fighting, which went on for about half an hour, when Mama Joy and Papa Joe chased the interloper far out to sea. Unfortunately, the “third wheel” keeps reappearing, almost daily. I write unfortunately because as is the case with so many episodes that play out in the life of our little Plover family, when the adults are distracted by a perceived threat and leave the chicks, it makes it easier for a predator, such as a crow or seagull, to swoop in and carry off a baby. Later in the summer, as the Plovers are preparing to migrate south, the fledglings and adults will gather in larger groups, but at this point in the chicks development, the pesky interloper is clearly not welcome.
Would you like to help us spruce up the pollinator gardens at the HarborWalk? The wonderful Maggie Rosa called last week expressing interest in helping care for the garden. We had a nice walk through the HarborWalk and talked about weed versus wildflower. Maggie has already made a tremendous improvement. If you would like to volunteer, I’ll be at the HarborWalk on Sunday morning from 7am to 8:30, before the podcast, and happy to show anyone interested how to identify the wildflowers. Please feel free to comment in the comment section or email me at email@example.com if you have any questions. Thank you.
Dad again rearranges the sand. Mom pipes in, “Honey, i think I’d prefer that mound of dried seaweed over there, nearer the blades of seagrass. And can you please add a few seashells to the next one, rather than bits of old kelp.”
Five Piping Plovers have been observed at Good Harbor Beach. They are battling over territory and beginning to pair up. The male builds perhaps a dozen nests scrapes in a single day–all in hopes of impressing the female. Hopefully, within the next week, they will establish a nest; the earlier in the season Plovers begin nesting, the greater the chance of survival for the chicks.
Dave Rimmer from Essex County Greenbelt reports that although many nest scrapes have been seen, no nests with any egg on any of Gloucester’s beaches have yet been discovered. He suggests that perhaps the cooler than usual spring temperatures are slowing progress.
Not one, but two, potential nesting sites have been roped off for the Piping Plovers. The second site is near the Good Harbor Beach Inn.