Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cedar Beach Chicks 28 June 10

The top picture is of of one of four very young Cedar Beach chicks probably hatched from the exclosure on 25, 26 June 2010. Notice how large its legs and feet are in relation to its body.
The next picture shows the Cedar Beach area favored by the foraging PPs: the small gut has been a favorite place for mating Horseshoe Crabs. The exclosed nest site can just be made out: the yellow signs are barely visible in front of the houses in the distance.
Pictures 3 and 4 are of Piping Plover chicks taken on 28 June 2010 at Cedar Beach.
First, two of four Cedar Beach chicks, now about 4-weeks old.
Second, two of four very young Cedar Beach chicks probably hatched from the exclosure on 25, 26 June 2010.

Monday, June 28, 2010

2 Cedar Beach chicks in wrack, 28 June 10

Here are two of the four mature Cedar Beach chicks sheltering in the wrack of 28 June 10. The temperature was about 90 degrees.

Cedar Beach chick videos

Here are 2 videos from 28 June 10: first, one of the four newly hatched (first reported 26 June) chicks with a tending adult from the last remaining Cedar Beach exclosure. Then, two of the four mature Cedar Beach chicks (almost a month old--probably can fly some):

Sunday, June 27, 2010

E Broadway Fledgling 27 June 10

The East Broadway chick has fledged. He flew beautifully today, 27 June 10, when provoked by a leashed Golden Lab. During 1/2 hour we watched the parents were nowhere in sight. Here's a short video of the fledgling stretching his wings:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

E Broadway chick, 23 June 10

Here's the East Broadway, Milford chick. Tending it is a single adult who looks like the male, which makes sense because females often migrate first, leaving the male to tend the chick as it begins to fly. Notice the wing when the chick spreads it--all the feathers are beautifully formed.

Another view of the chick and adult, 23 June 10.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

E Broadway adult and 4-wk old chick

The remaining East Broadway chick is 4 weeks old today, 22 June 10. He should be flying any day now. Here he is on the beach with one of his parents as we hand out a Piping Plover pamphlet to a couple who had just seen Snowy Plovers in California.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Last E Broadway chick, 19 June 2010

Today, 19 June, sadly found only one remaining chick tended by the East Broadway adults. If the chick were taken by a predator, the most likely suspect would be a gull, especially a Great Black-backed Gull. Four Gr BB Gulls were around this morning. In the video the chick is 25-days old, and his wings are almost fully developed, as is apparent when it spreads its wings.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Adult brooding 3 chicks, late Dunlin, Horseshoe Crabs

The first photo shows a late Dunlin (it seems to have something wrong with its lower mandible--it remained around for a week after this photo was taken) with a Semipalmated Sandpiper at the Milford Point spit on 17 June 2010. The next photo pictures 3 Horseshoe Crabs (2 males, 1 female) mating on the spit, thereby providing the shorebirds, esp. the Semipalmated Sandpipers, crucial food on their northward migration. Two days earlier we counted at least 170 Horseshoes Crabs on and around the spit. The final photo shows the Cedar Street Piping Plover family on 17 June 2010.

The photo above, from 17 June 2010 at the very beginning of the Milford Point (Francis Street) spit, shows an adult Piping Plover brooding 3 chicks (they're underneath her) with the skillful use of her wings. The 4th chick sits nearby. (You might want to enlarge the photo to see the birds--their amazing camouflage is on display.) This family is probably from a nest that was exclosed but never protected by stringing because of the objections of the property owners, Two days earlier the family had been foraging high up on the beach further east on Cedar Beach.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

E Broadway chick video, 17 June 10

The two East Broadway chicks in front of 835-41 East Broadway, Milford, 17 June 2010 around 1:00 AM. The chicks, now 23-days old and with the white fluffy napes of that age, often take refuge in the white resin chairs on the beach. Note their well-developed wings.

E Broadway Pipers 17 June 10

The East Broadway Piping Plover family, 2 adults with two chicks born on 26 May 2010, stay very close to the spot where they nested. The following photos were shot on 17 June around 1:00 PM. The first picture shows a chick, with the fluffy white nape typical of his age of 23 days, under a white resin chair that they all use at times for shade; the second is the male adult ignoring a private beach sign.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Flying Piping Plover chick, 15 June 10, Mlf Pt

While reviewing video shot today at Milford Point of the 4 chicks, I came across a video that shows what seems to be the largest chick actually flying. This might be the solution to a mystery: how a nest with only 3 hatched eggs produced 4 chicks.

Here's another view of the largest Piping Plover chick (the one just to the left of the adult) in a video taken at the same time as the one above and in the video of wing stretching.

Milford Pt chicks stretching wings at 2.5 weeks

Here are the Milford Point (Francis Street) chicks stretching their wings as they begin to try to fly. Video taken on 15 June 2010. This group of 4 chicks and 2 adults still sticks closely together. They're about a week older than the 4 chicks/2 adults of Cedar Street.

Monday, June 14, 2010

3-week old Piping Plover chicks, E B'way 14 June 10

Here's a photo of one of the 2 remaining East Broadway Piping Plover chicks at age 3 weeks (14 June 2010).

Below, a brief video of the 2 chicks and an adult during the same visit to East Broadway.

Willet, Sandy Point, 14 June 10

Here's an Eastern Willet in alternate plumage foraging at Sandy Point, West Haven, 14 June 2010.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Clapper Rail, Silver Sands SP 11 June 10

This Clapper Rail is featured below preening in the brief video taken from the parking lot boardwalk at Silver Sands State Park in Milford, CT on the morning of June 10. A nearby Clapper on the opposite side of the boardwalk is probably a male producing what Sibley describes as "single hard ket notes repeated monotonously (about 2 notes/sec)." The second video shows a Clapper Rail next to the Silver Sands boardwalk on 2 July 10. The rail, seemingly oblivious to the human traffic, foraged and swam next to the crowded boardwalk at the height of a summer day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Willet, 10 June 10, Milford Point

One of the shorebirds on the Milford Point spit on 10 June 10, an Eastern Willet in alternate plumage displaying his distinctive wings:

10 June 10 Piping Plovers Milford Pt

A single male Piping Plover on Milford Point spit (Francis Street) on 10 June 10. Right now there are 3 exclosures on the spit, each with an incubating adult on nest. 4 chicks are also present, tended by at least 2 adults at all times.

Piping Plover on Milford Point spit, 10 June 10, running quickly:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Establishing territory, vocalizing, early April 2010

This video, showing a male Piping Plover establishing territory on the Milford Point spit (Francis Street) in early April 2010, features almost constant vocalizing.

Goosestepping, kicking video no. 3

In this video from May 2010, the male actually kicks the female as he goosesteps in pursuit of mating. We have not yet been able to video the behavior when the male actively kicks the female's flanks before he mounts onto her back. Also, note the way the male's dark neckband expands impressively as he makes himself more upright and elongated.

Foot tembling E B'way 7 June 10

Here are two videos of the champion foot tremblers at the beach on East Broadway on 7 June 2010. About the "foot-trembling" and "foot-tapping" of plovers and lapwings, David Sibley says, "On intertidal mudflats, plovers will often slightly raise one leg and vibrate it so the toes disturb the substrate, causing small prey to move and become easier to see and capture" (Sibley Guide 260).

Myrtle Beach chick, 7 June 10

Here's a photo of the Myrtle Beach chick at 2 days old. We could not find this bird the next day or on subsequent days.

East Broadway chicks, 7 June 2010

A very brief look at the East Broadway chicks on the morning of 7 June 2010. Only 2 chicks seem to have survived of the initial 4. The 2 adults this morning were chasing away another adult Piping Plover.

Another look, slightly later in the day, or the 2 remaining East Broadway chicks. They were born on 26 May 2010, so on this day they are 13 days old. The parents can be heard piping constantly.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

4 chicks Mlf Pt, 6 June 2010

Here's a six-second video that stars all four Milford Pt (Francis St) spit Piping Plover chicks on 6 June 2010. You need to be alert to see all four of them.

Exclosing a Piping Plover nest

Here's a picture of the exclosing and symbolic fencing work on the E. Broadway nest, 30 April 2010, with Julie Victoria, Charla Spector, and Tom Zawislinski. Note the Piping Plover pair piping to the left:

Shell Tossing

Here is a short video of a Piping Plover engaged in that part of the "nest-scraping display" when "a courting male walks about on his territory, deliberately tossing aside shell fragments or pebbles" (Birds of North America). He's also uttering the "nest-scraping call." This pair just lost its nest and 4 eggs to the storm surge around 3:30 AM (19 May 2010) on the Milford Point (Francis Street) spit.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day-old chicks, East Broadway 26 May 2010

Here are a pair of one-day old chicks at East Broadway, Milford on 26 May 2010. Four chicks hatched, but only 3 were around two days later. The precocial chicks are brooded by the parents because, as Divid Sibley remarks, "They have a relatively low metabolism and need their parents to brood them frequently for the first two weeks until they are able to maintain their own body temperatures" (Sibley Guide, p. 262).

Parallel run displays, Piping Plover, Mlf Pt 3 June 2010

This video shows two adult Piping Plovers on the Francis Street spit at Milford Point on 3 June 2010 engaged in "parallel run displays" (Birds of North America), whereby the birds draw a boundary between their territories. One bird is from a pair raising 3 chicks (from a clutch of 4); the other is from a pair with a nest newly established (with four eggs) to replace a lost nest. While most of the parallel running seems like an avian exercise in peaceful diplomacy, things get testy at the end of the video. We observed this behavior for about 1/2 hr; when we left they were still at it.
Here's the discussion of "parallel run displays" from Birds of North America:"Territorial to varying degrees throughout annual cycle. Territory boundaries defined and defended using a “parallel-run display”: two neighbors run in parallel along a common boundary with heads and necks stretched upward, breast feathers puffed smoothly, and dark sides of the neck band showing brightly against the white breast (Cairns 1982). After facing each other and head-bobbing, one turns at right angles and runs rapidly for a distance of 1–10 m along the disputed line. In the same manner, the second bird runs past the first and stops abruptly. This usually continues to the shoreline or grassline, upon which the birds abruptly turn around and come back. Both members of each pair may sometimes run parallel together. Encounters may last 30 minutes or more and continue sporadically for days. They usually subside once incubation has begun, but may resume at any time (SMH). Although most parallel runs occur with conspecifics, Piping Plovers have been observed running with Wilson’s Plovers (Bergstrom and Terwilliger 1987). Territories are also defended using “horizontal threat displays” (see Agonistic Behavior). Territorial behavior occurs during winter but is less vigorous (J. Stucker pers. comm.)."

Piping Plover nests, 3 June 2010, Mlf Pt

Photos of two nests shot 3 June 2010 at the Francis Street spit at Milford Point. Notice that nests are scrapes lined with shell fragments. Both male and female contribute to the nest building.

Piping Plover 3 eggs, 4 June 10 Milford Pt

Here's a photo of an adult Piping Plover with 3 eggs about 3/4 the way out the Francis Street spit at Milford Point on 4 June 2010. This nest was discovered while walking out to the end of the spit to observe a new nest discovered by Julian P. earlier in the day. This PP and its mate are probably a pair that had lost their nest and eggs within the week. The new nesting spot is not in a great location because it is probably too low to withstand the next run of high tides. Laura S and Orla were to have exclosed both nests on 5 June 2010.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Piping Plover brooding 1-wk old chick

An adult Piping Plover, already brooding one chick, is approached by another chick who wants to shelter. The adult rebuffs the second chick. East Broadway family, 1 June 2010. Chicks are one-week old. In the next video one chick remains brooding while its sibling runs towards the wet wrack to feed.