The Piping Plover (Charadruis melodus melodus) is an endangered ground nesting shorebird. It inhabits our shores from late spring until early fall. Plovers can be found on mostly sandy beaches with some larger grain and smaller rock, as well as in coastal dunes where vegetation is sparse and mostly limited to grasses.
It is important to remember that the same beaches in which piping plover inhabit are one’s that are favorable to recreational activities (riding ATVs, sun bathing, swimming, beach fires, etc.). This can make things difficult for preventing disturbance of the species during their nesting period. There are some preventative measures we can take when using beaches that have suitable piping plover habitat or are inhabited by piping plovers. The following list of recommendations is collected from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s promotional materials:
- Between April and August stay away from recognized piping plover breeding and nesting areas. Walk on the wet sand, close to the water’s edge.
- Keep your pets on a leash. Wandering pets can disturb nesting birds and be significantly harmful to chicks and fledglings
- Clean up garbage found on the beach and if you pack it in, pack it out. Food wrapping and waste can attract scavenging predators
- Leave natural debris on the beach as piping plovers rely on these resources for food and cover. These include seaweed, shells, and woody debris
- Do not operate any vehicles on beaches or coastal dunes. Doing so can disturb nesting plovers, cause chicks to get stuck in tire ruts and separated from their mothers, crush eggs/chicks, and in the case of riding in dunes, accelerate coastal erosion in the area and cause permanent habitat loss.
- Report the location of piping plovers and their nests to the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) or Qalipu Fisheries Guardians
- If you see people, or pets disturbing piping plovers or their nests, contact CWS to report the disturbance. It’s a federal offence under the Species at Risk Act to harass species at risk.
- Join a local stewardship group or volunteer organization to help protect species at risk and talk to others about these best practices to help protect our species at risk. You can contact CWS for more information on Piping Plover groups in your local area
This year, Qalipu continued its monitoring of the Piping Plover in the Bay St. George region. We returned once again to the same sites which we have been surveying for a number of years; Sandy Point, Flat Bay Peninsula, Stephenville Crossing, and Black Bank.
During the 2019-2020 field season a grand total of 13 individuals were spotted, with a total of 3 individuals spotted at Flat Bay and Sandy Point combined including one breeding pair and one individual. We would also like to note that at these locations there was an increase in human traffic this year as well as many as five foxes seen on the island which could affect the population.
At Black Bank a total of four individuals were spotted consisting of 1 breeding pair and two individuals. There were two adult pairs and two chicks which were only observed once this year, while 3 chicks were observed in total. It is possible that the increase in recreational vehicle use in the area could have affected the population.
In Flat Bay Peninsula there was a total of three individuals spotted which included 1 breeding pair and on individual. And in Stephenville Crossing there were no sightings this year.
There were twelve eggs spotted this year, four at Sandy Point/Flat Island and eight at Flat Bay Peninsula. We could only confirm that five of the eight eggs at Flat Bay Peninsula hatched, three of which fledged. There were also three hatchlings at Black Bank observed. However, the eggs and nest had not been previously observed.
For more information on this program, contact Stephen Rose at email@example.com or 709-634-5053. For more information about piping plover or to make a report, contact CWS at 1-800-668-6767, Fish and Wildlife Enforcement at 1-877-820-0999, or Crimestoppers via phone at 1-800-222-TIPS (1-800-222-8477) or via text to “CRIMES” (274637) by texting TIP190 plus your message.