Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Plover Lover

Many are avoiding Plum Island to avoid the Green Head Flies; others because most of the beach is closed to protect the Piping Plovers. In spite of these mere obstacles and my checkered past visiting the island, I decided to visit the island anyways.

If you persevere and drive to the very end, to Sandy Point Reservation, park your car, grab your gear and hike along the beach for another 1/2 mile you will arrive at an area that's roped off to protect nesting Piping Plovers and Least Terns. The terns will let you know if you get too close, by dive bombing your head until you retreat. The ropes are there to protect the few nesting pairs of Piping Plovers hid in the grass.

Piping Plovers are a threatened species which is why the refuge beach is shut down. the state is a bit more relaxed just roping off a substantial area of beach. Unfortunately they didn't tell the plovers about the rope, so while the nests are protected, you can encounter the birds anywhere.

This spring's flooding wiped out their original nests. However, the plovers and terns have "re-nested" and are incubating their eggs. Here are a few photos from a recent visit.

Plovers seem to prefer walking to flying I was a respectful distance away with my long lens. This guy kept coming closer & closer, until he got inside my minimum focusing distance! The nests are really hard to see. The plovers seemed to pick a spot with a little shade, unlike some of the terns who selected areas of wide open beach. One pair has hatched two chicks. The chicks look like dirty cotton balls on toothpicks...until they start running It's hard not to find the chicks so cute and adorable. It makes dealing with the sand fleas and green heads almost tolerable.