Tag Archives: Piping Plover

FRIENDS OF LITTLE CHICK

Common Tern delivering breakfast to its fledgling.

Here are a collection of recent photos of different species of shorebirds and songbirds gathering and migrating along Cape Ann beaches that Little Chick may encounter on his journey south.

During the spring breeding season Piping Plover mating adults chase all other birds out of their territory, from the largest Black-backed Gull to the tiniest Song Sparrow. At this time of year, during the summer southward migration, you’ll often see PiPl feeding alongside other PiPl, as well as with Semipalmated Plovers, Black-bellied Plovers, Killdeers, peeps, terns, and gulls.

Ruddy Turnstones

Ruddy Turnstones Photobombed

Common Tern fledgling squawking for breakfast.

Won’t someone, anyone, please, please feed me! Unlike Piping Plover chicks, Common Tern chicks cannot feed themselves at birth. Common Tern chicks can walk and swim, but it will be many weeks before they learn to fish.

Tree Swallows massing, foraging in dunes rich with insects and berries.

 Bonaparte’s Gulls

Compare Common Tern in the foreground to Bonaparte’s Gull in the background. Both have red-orange legs and feet and both are black-headed. The easiest way to differentiate when on the beach is the Common Tern’s bill is orange; the Bonaparte’s Gull’s bill is black. 

Least Sandpipers are the smallest of peeps. Note how beautifully camouflaged are they in the drying seaweed. 

Daybreak and early morning are often the most beautiful times of day to see wildlife.

THE GREAT AUK AT THE PAINT FACTORY! AND PIPING PLOVER DAY 28 UPDATE

The Great Auk was an extraordinary seabird that was driven to extinction in the mid- 19th century. What made it so extraordinary was its ability to dive great depths and swim as fast as the fish it caught. The Auk’s amazing abilities were also its downfall. The same wings and webbed feet that propelled it through water with tremendous speed and agility evolved so that over time, the wings shrank. The bird became flightless and its feet unable to navigate well on land. Ten months out of the year when the Auk lived entirely on the sea this was not a problem but during the breeding season, the Great Auk would return to the rocky shore of its birth to find its life mate and deposit a single egg. Both male and female took turns incubating the egg with their large feet. During the two month period on land, the birds were slaughtered by the tens of thousands. The oily skin of the Great Auk that allowed it to float on the surface of the water and live on the sea was used for oil lamps, the warm downy feathers for quilts and pillows, and its meat eaten by hungry settlers and fishermen.

The Great Auk and very tragic story of its long, painful extinction has captured the imagination of Nathan Thomas Wilson, the first Goetemann Artist Residency Fellowship award recipient. Working on the grounds of the Paint Factory and in partnership with Ocean Alliance, Nathan is creating a twice-life size interpretation of the Great Auk (the Great Auk ranged in height from approximately 27 to 35 inches). Nathan’s Auk is made from plastic pollution and debris scavenged along the shore, created with the goal of highlighting the devastating effect pollution is having on all living creatures.

Great Auk in progress. Head to arrive soon–Nathan is casting the head off site as it will have a lighting component.

Nathan is giving a talk on the 25th of July. Go to his facebook page for details about the talk and for more about Nathan.

No two eggs alike – Great Auk eggs were unusual in that each egg was uniquely patterned to allow easy identification by the brooding parents.

Great Auk nesting habitat.

Day 28: Little Chick is growing beautifully, developing and honing a range of defensive skills. With each passing day, he can feed longer, run faster, and stay in a position of perfect stillness for greater and greater periods of time. Still though, only very short little five- to six-foot run-hop-airbore flutters have been observed by the PiPl monitors.

Twenty-eight-day old Piping Plover shown with a small sample of the plastic pollution found daily on Good harbor Beach. The plastic debris litters GHB every morning before Gloucester’s hard working DPW and trash-piker-uppers arrive to clean up the mess left by beach goers the day before.

THANK YOU JOE LUCIDO!

Huge shout out to Joe Lucido, Mike Hale, and the entire crew that make up the departments of public works and services for the City of Gloucester. Please thank these gentlemen next time you see them. Hard working guys that they are, they have added plover helpers to their long list of responsibilities, and all have lent a hand in helping Gloucester’s Piping Plovers succeed.

Joe heard about the dog owner trouble yesterday and stopped by early, early this morning to help monitor the situation, as well as check on the new weekend trash barrels.

Thanks so much to Joe and Mike and their crews for all that they are doing to help keep our city looking its best, mostly for people, but their efforts tremendously help the Plovers, too.

I took this snapshot of the trash barrels late yesterday afternoon, Sunday, after one of the busiest beach days of the summer. No trash spilling out! So far so good with the updated Carry In/Carry Out-Trash Barrel Plan.

PIPING PLOVER BIRD BANDING DISORDERS

Although bird banding is tremendously helpful to researchers, after seeing the following video, I understand why conservationists have decided not to band in our area. I am puzzled as to why the Plover in this video has to have sooooo many bands.

CELEBRATING DAY TWENTY WITH OUR PIPING PLOVER CHICK–ALMOST-FLEDGLING

Confident Little Chick

With each passing day, our Little Chick looks less and less like a chick and more and more like a fledgling. As with all Piping Plover new fledglings, the pretty stripe of brown feathers across the back of the head is becoming less pronounced, while flight feathers are rapidly growing and replacing the baby’s downy fluff. It won’t be long before we see sustained flying.

Little Chick spent a good part of the morning at the intertidal zone finding lots of yummy worms and mini crustaceans.

Thanks to all our volunteers for their continued work in monitoring the Good Harbor Beach Piping Plovers. Volunteer Hazel Hewitt has created a series of informative signs, placing them all around the beach and at every entrance. 

Thanks to GLoucester High School Coach Mike Latoff and the players for keeping an eye on the Plovers.

Papa Plover, sometimes feeding in close proximity to Little Chick, but more often, now watching from a distance. 

Twenty-day-old Piping Plover Chick

Chick Yoga

Piping Plover chick yoga that is, mastering Warrior Three.A funny little morning stretch the PiPl chicks do often.

What Do Piping Plovers Eat?

The question should really be what don’t they eat in the world of insects and diminutive sea creatures. Over the past two summers I have filmed PiPl eating every kind of beach dwelling crawly insect and marine life imaginable.

Piping Plovers eat freshwater, land, and marine invertebrates. Their general fashion of foraging is to run, stop, peck, repeat, all the day long, and during the night as well.

Run, Stop, Peck

When foraging along the wrack line and up to the dune edge Piping Plovers eat insects, both alive and dead, including ants, spiders, grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles, along with insect larvae such as fly larvae. Foraging at the intertidal zone, Piping Plovers find sea worms, tiny mollusks, and crustaceans, as well as crustacean eggs.

When the chicks get a little older they will learn how to do a sort of foot tamping technique where they rapidly shake their feet in the sand to stir up crustaceans. I have yet to see our chicks do this, but soon enough.

The purpose of discontinuing to rake the beach to help the Piping Plovers is twofold. Not raking in the nesting site creates a habitat rich in dry seaweed and dry grasses, which attracts insects, the PiPl food on dry land. Secondly, raking in the vicinity of the Plovers after they hatch can be deadly dangerous to the chicks. Not only is there danger of being squished, but also, they can easily become stuck in the impression in the sand made by the tires of heavy machinery.

This morning I had a disagreeable conversation with a woman about her unleashed puppy. She feigned lack of knowledge about the dog ordinances, but aside from that, she informed me that her large puppy would be “afraid” of a chick. And there seems to be a frustrating lack of understanding about where the chicks forage. We can only share again that the Piping Plovers, both adults and chicks, feed from the dunes’s edge to the water’s edge, and everywhere in between. Sunrise and sunset are not safe times to walk dogs on the beach because Piping Plovers forage at all times of the day, and into the night. Adult birds can fly away from a person or dog walking and running on the beach, but a shorebird chick cannot.

Big Beach, Tiny Chick ~ Sixteen-day-old Piping Plover Chick Foraging at the Ocean Edge