I had been going to post a selection of bird photos to mark Endangered Species Day today. I’d begun to plan the details – the birds to use, the captions for each and so on. Then I saw one photograph that is so charming and yet so poignant that I realised that adding further images would be superfluous. This tiny piping plover chick is a potent symbol of the vulnerability of all threatened species.
This shot was taken by award-winning and renowned wildlife photographer Melissa Groo. If you want to see the most wonderful and varied wildlife photography that you could ever imagine, please go to Melissa’s website and prepare to be amazed. You will find itHERE.
I have posted several times about the endangered piping plovers, many of which overwinter in the northern Bahamas generally, Abaco particularly, and the Delphi Club beach specifically. There are believed to…
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“50 WAYS TO PLEASE YOUR PLOVER”: PIPING PLOVERS ON ABACO (2)
There must be 50 ways at least, most of them amounting to leaving Piping Plovers alone and respecting their habitat. So, in many cases simply NOT doing things . Refraining from driving your SUV around on the beaches exactly where they are resting (with other shorebirds) during migration (yes, this very scenario is captured on film). Discouraging your canine friends from investigating their scrapes, eggs and chicks. Not building a concrete block on their favourite beach. Avoiding dumping quantities of oil in their vicinity. That kind of thing. Make a new plan, Stan! Watch where you drive, Clive! Find a new place, Grace! Safeguard your oil, Doyle! And leave the birds free…
MIGRATION & CONSERVATION I’m returning to Piping Plovers at a time when concerns for their diminished population has led to intensive research and protection programs at both ends…
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NEST PROTECTION: WILSON’S PLOVERS ON ABACO (2)
This is the second of three vaguely planned posts about these delightful shore birds. They aren’t rare but they are approachable and fun to watch. During the nesting and hatching season, there may even be some gorgeous chicks on a beach near you (a phrase I never thought I’d find myself using). PART ONE identified the typical male and female adults found on the Delphi beach almost any day.
This post is about nest protection. Not the ingenious methods of the birds themselves, that will come next time. This is a story of protection by humans. The photograph above shows Nettie’s Point, one of the launching points for bonefishing skiffs being taken out to the Marls, a vast area of sea, low sand banks and mangroves where the fish are found. You hope. The skiffs gain access to open sea via an artificial channel…
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The male plover above is keeping watch from a rocky vantage point over an area at the north end of the beach at Delphi. And with good reason. It’s the summer breeding season, and on the sand are some nests. One of them is his.
This is a ‘scrape’ – not the carefully constructed nest that most birds make, but a shore bird’s collection of sticks and twigs – sometimes stones or shells – clumped together on the sand to provide a comfortable place for the mother to sit until the eggs have hatched.
Usually, there will be a pair of chicks, maybe more. The two in the photo below have scuttled to the back of the beach for safety because the adults thought I was…
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‘CHECK OUT THE WEB’: SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS ON ABACO
“Semipalmated”. You what? Come again? Ehhhh? My reactions to the word until embarrassingly recently. In fact until the steep learning curve involved in writing a bird book made
some all of the terminology clearer. Plovers and sandpipers both have semipalmated versions, and I’ll take the semipalmated plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) first.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
A small shorebird with a grey-brown back and wings, a white underside with a single black neck band, and orange legs. They have a brown cap, a white forehead, a black eye mask and a short black bill with an orange base to it. And feet to be discussed below.
WHERE DO THEY LIVE?
Their summer home and breeding habitat is on the beaches and flats of northern Canada and Alaska. They nest in scrapes on the ground right out in the open. In the Autumn these little birds set…
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That’s the total number of all the piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) left in the world. Like many other rare and vulnerable species (e.g. the Kirtland’s Warbler), the habitat at both ends of their migration routes is under threat. And, as with the Kirtland’s, vigorous conservation campaigns are underway. Problems such as habitat loss at one end are bad enough – if at both ends, population decline is a certainty and extinction looms. The summer breeding range of PIPLs takes in Canada, central US and the eastern seaboard. In winter they join the mass migration of other birds south to warmer climes. Abaco is lucky enough to receive these little winter visitors; and at Delphi we are fortunate that every year some choose the beach for their winter retreat.
This is the first of a planned Piping Plover series that I have been…
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