Piping Plover Sighting!


As any birders out there may already know, the bay that the Harrison Lewis Centre resides in is home to an endangered bird species, the piping plover; The Nature Conservancy of Canada's Sandy Bay Nature Reserve is an area specifically made to protect their habitat. These birds usually end up in Thomas Raddall Provincial Park area, but occasionally hop over to our side of the beach, just to change things up. A sighting of any endangered species in the wilderness is a cause for celebration, but piping plovers are especially exciting. Or, at least that was the vibe I got from the 20-something ornithology students that were in the vicinity at the time of the sighting, all of which immediately sprinted down to the beach in the hopes of catching a glimpse. If you want to witness a stampede, come down to the centre during high bird migration and hang out with birders. In all actuality, the students of the ornithology class were clearly blessed by the "Great Raven" (birding joke), because the sighting took place just as they were packing up to ship out. There were two plovers spotted, hanging out on the beach, that stuck around until the students had got their fill of pictures and scope looks. A particularly steady-handed student was smart enough to take these pictures through the scope.These two plovers may have taken a liking to our side of the beach, as they were still in the vicinity early this morning, spotted again by our summer intern, Jake Hubner, during his morning bird walk. Let's hope they stick around! As always, if going into an endangered species habitat, you have to be careful. Plovers make their nests on the dry shore just above high tide, and by nest I mean they lay a couple eggs in a small divet in the ground. If walking along the beach on the ocean, try to stay in the "wet sand" if possible. These birds have taken a massive decline in population from a larger presence of feral cats and increased human expansion. Young plovers are hard to spot for the untrained eye; they blend in with the sand from far away and are quite small. Watch your feet! Especially in areas thought to contain nests.  With a little knowledge and respect towards these adorable little puffballs, we might just be able to bring the plovers back!