Tag Archives: Piping plover tracks


Dear Friends of Cape Ann’s Plovers,

Again this past week, our dynamic duo has been busily bonding, nest scraping, and mating up and down the full length of the beach. However, the extremely high tide that rose to the base of the dunes washed out the pair’s nest scrapes and temporarily put the kibosh on all things romantic. The two disappeared for a full day after the storm departed, with no spottings anywhere, not even tell tale PiPl tracks.

Super high tide through the spray zone

My heart always skips a beat after a day or two of no “eyes on the PiPls,” but I am happy to report Mom and Dad are back to the business of beginning a new family, seemingly unfazed. The storm and super high tide left in its wake lots of great bits of dried seaweed and sea grass which will in turn attract tons of insects, one of the PiPls dietary mainstays. There is a silver lining to every storm cloud 🙂

Just a friendly reminder if you would please, if you see the PiPls at the edge of the symbolic rope line or foraging in the tide pools, please do not hover. Hovering will distract the Plovers and delay courtship. And hovering attracts gulls and crows to the scene. Step back at least 50 to 60 feet and give them some space. Bring binoculars or a strong lens if you would like to observe the PiPls from a comfortable distance, comfortable to them that is. Thank you much!

Take care and Happy Spring!


Mom’s also dig out the nest scrapes

High stepping Dad, courting Mom

Nest scrape

Dad taking a moment to preen after courting



Good Morning PiPl Friends!

Our sweet pair of PiPls has been left largely undisturbed this past week. Word is getting out that the dog officers are ticketing. There are fewer dog tracks running through the symbolically roped off areas, which is fantastic.

Mom and Dad are running the length of the beach, as evidenced by their tiny fleur-de-lis imprints in the sand. They are also nest scraping along the length of the beach however, the pair are primarily sticking within areas #1 (Salt Island side) and #3 (Creekside).

I am excited to think about the possibility of an early nest! If this warm, mild weather continues we may be in luck. For our newest Ambassadors and new friends of Gloucester’s Plovers, the earlier in the season that Piping Plovers nest, the greater the chance the chicks have of surviving. We owe tremendous thanks to Gloucester DPW assistant director Joe Lucido and his crew for installing the roping early. I just can’t express how grateful we are for the early action taken.

This past week I was traveling along the Massachusetts coastline documenting other Piping Plover locations for the PiPl film project and came across a duo of banded Plovers from Eastern Canada. I am waiting to hear back from the Canadian biologist in charge and will write more as soon as she writes back. It was wonderfully exciting to see not one, but two, all the way from Canada and I can’t wait to find out more!

Looking forward to working with you all!


Piping Plovers foraging Good Harbor Beach April 2021



1) Volunteer to be a Piping Plover monitor. Please contact Alicia Pensarosa at gloucesteraac@gmail.com. Heather Hall is currently working on a temporary schedule until one is provided by Alicia. Heather can be reached at gonesouth5@gmail.com.

2) Please let your friends know the PiPls have returned and please share this post.

3) If you have a dog, and I know this is a great deal to ask, please avoid Good Harbor Beach. There are many other great places that folks can walk their dog. Beginning April 1st, all dogs are prohibited from Good Harbor Beach at anytime of day or night, including early morning and after the life guards leave for the day.

4) If you feel you must bring your dog to GHB, please avoid the No. 3 boardwalk area (their preferred courting and nesting area) and please walk your dog along the shoreline.

5) Join our Facebook page Piping Plover Partners.

6) Come to the Piping Plover Ecology, Management, and Conservation program at the Sawyer Free Library this Saturday from 10am to 12pm. This program is sponsored by the City of Gloucester’s Animal Advisory Committee.

7) Please report anyone harassing the PiPls to the police at 978-283-1212 and any dog harassing the PiPls to Gloucester’s Animal Control officers Jamie and Teagan at 978-281-9746.



A note from Mayor Sefatia – A thirty day waiting period after the new dog ordinance was passed was required prior to any new signs being installed. The thirty days has passed and we will be seeing the new signs shortly!

Dave Rimmer from Greenbelt will be installing the protective symbolic fencing tomorrow, Wednesday!

Look for the Papa doing a fancy goose step during courtship. This is our Good Harbor Beach Mama and Papa courting last spring.

Plover Dad brooding eggs.

A tell-tale signs of PiPls present are these sweet petite fleur de lis tracks in the sand.

A tiny chick, the fraction of the size of a child’s flip flop.

Essex Greenbelt’s Dave Rimmer and assistant installing the wire exclosure last year after the PiPls were driven off the beach by dogs–we don’t ever want to see this happen again.


Just some of the paw prints seen on our local beaches this spring are Eastern Coyote, Red Fox, Skunk, Racoon, White-tailed Deer, and of course, a plethora of crows and gulls.

If you would like to see what wildlife traverses and scavenges Cape Ann beaches when we humans are not there, the best time to look is early, early in the morning, before the tracks are disturbed. Oftentimes the best days to look are after a rain storm, especially after the sand has dried a bit. Forget about tracking tracks on a windy morning. If you are not sure what you are seeing, take a close-up photo of the track, and then take a long shot, too, to see the pattern of the tracks.  

The Mass Wildlife Pocket Guide is the best handy track identification tool because it shows clearly the tracks, as well as the pattern of the tracks, and only shows wildlife we see in Massachusetts.

My favorite tracks to find are (no mystery here) Piping Plover tracks, which are wonderfully shaped, like a diminutive fleur de lis.

Piping Plover tracks showing courtship activity

I am waiting to see Black Bear tracks. Just kidding, although, the range of the Black Bear is expanding from western Massachusetts eastward. I imagine that within ten years Black Bears will, at the very least be frequent visitors to Cape Ann, or will be living in our midst. Just the thing Joey will be thrilled to know 🙂

The Black Bears expanding range in Massachusetts.

Black Bear Cubs

Black Bear cub photo courtesy wikicommons media