Sunday, July 25, 2010

Silver Sands chicks 25 July 10

The Silver Sands family has moved west, thus getting away from the crowds at the beach during these very hot July days. Tom Z and I found them about 25 yards from Fletcher's Creek this morning (25 July 10). The chicks are maturing (they were born on July 4 or 5), but some pinfeathers remain.
Here are two photos: the first of two of the chicks this morning, the next of mom:
Here's a brief video of the 3 chicks by the water (their mother is just off camera--we haven't seen the male recently

Friday, July 23, 2010

American Oystercatchers, Least Sandpiper 23 July 10

Here are two videos of birds on the Milford Point spit on 23 July 2010, a day when about 3500 shorebirds, mainly Semipalmated Sandpipers, were on nearby sandbars. First, the American Oystercatcher trio: mom, dad, chick (now acquiring adult plumage):

And here's a Least Sandpiper foraging on the west side of the spit; it's joined by a House Sparrow, one of an ever-increasing number this year:

Milford Pt chicks 23 July 10

Here are 3 photos of some chicks (and one adult) from the Milford Point spit on 23 July 2010. A cool (70 degrees) morning at high tide had 7 chicks/fledglings in a group with a single adult tending. One of the photos shows a chick facing the camera from under the brooding mother's tail, and another chick is barely visible under her right wing. We could not determine if these chicks had yet fledged. We had a total of about 15 Piping Plover on the spit and Cedar Beach today, down from 30-35 a week ago when they were staging on the spit.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Silver Sands chicks 22 July 10

On 22 July 10 we returned from a week in Pennsylvania and heard reports that the Silver Sands Piping Plovers had disappeared, perhaps to foul play. We were relieved to find them about 150 paces west of their exclosure area, near the back edge of sand in the first photo. We had heard, then found, an adult (the female). The 3 chicks emerged from the rear downslope of sand and sheltered in the grass. (Photos 3 and 4 show the chicks in the grass--best to zoom in as far as possible). Finally, the mother led the chicks across the sand (hazy photo 2) down to the water's edge and then west towards Fletcher's Creek. By 11:30 AM the beach was getting quite crowded, so the PPs are smart to move to the least peopled section of Silver Sands. We assume the male is around because we saw two adult PPs flying into the marsh when we first reached the beach.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Piping Plovers 15 July 10 Milford Pt

Today at Milford Point most of the Piping Plover chicks are getting difficult to distinguish from fledglings. Here are two photos of PP in a family of 4 young birds and 2 adults--the first photo shows an adult and a fledgling; the second two of the other fledges. All of the birds would repeatedly hunker down in scrapes in the sand. The last few days have featured strong thunderstorms and torrential rains, but these PPs seem just fine.

Mlf Pt 15 July 10, 100 sandpipers

Today, 15 July 10, at a very high afternoon high (7.8 feet), about 300 sandpipers and plovers, mainly Semipalmated Sandpipers but also a few dozen Least Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers, congregated just beyond the second exclosure. The incoming tide surrounded that exclosure, and may have washed through it by the time the tide was at its height. The first photo shows one of the Least Sandpipers; the second shot captures the semipalmation of the Semipalated Sandpiper (on the left). The third picture shows about 100 birds of the shorebird flock.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mlf Pt, 13 July 10, 2 chicks

Two of the group of six chicks that were tended by 3-4 adults near the first exclosure and the east water's edge on 13 July 10. Another pair of chicks were tended by two adults past the second exclosure. All of the chicks mixed freely with about 100 Semipalmated Sandpipers.

In this video, also at the Mlf Pt spit on 13 July, notice that one chick is larger than the other, which is usual for siblings and is usually based on birth order. All of the chicks on the spit are now older than 2 weeks, so they are all quite mobile.

Milford Point 13 July 10

Today, 13 July 10, the Milford Point (Francis St) spit and the contiguous Cedar Beach hosted around 34 Piping Plover. Eight were chicks (no doubt a Cedar Beach quartet and two each from the spit exclosures), the others about evenly divided between adults and fledglings. Clearly, the spit is a staging point for PPs before they make the trip south--a destination potentially ominous because of the Gulf oil disaster. Also, other shorebirds are starting to gather along the coast, including today about 100 Semipalmated Sandpipers. Here is an adult male PP, a very aggressive defender of his chicks, and one of his brood.

Here's a video of a few of the Semipalmated Sandpipers--now on their southward migration-- on the spit foraging with three Piping Plover chicks spit's eastern edge:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Silver Sands adult, chick 12 July 10

One of the adults tending 3 chicks at Silver Sands State Park on July 12, 2010.

One of the chicks:

Silver Sands chick 12 July

Still very hot at Silver Sands SP when we checked the Piping Plover family around 9:00 AM on Monday, July 12th. Sunday had been a very crowded day at the beach, but the PPs were aided by volunteers Bernice L and then Tom & Laura Z, who handed out many flyers and gave a little educational talk to a receptive crowd. We were happy to find the three chicks and their 2 adults foraging, still just in front of their exclosure and stringing. The following video shows one of the 3 chicks hatched on July 5th, so it's about a week old. (Another chick, not this one, is slightly larger and more developed--probably the first born.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Silver Sands 3 chicks 10 July 10

A video of the entire Silver Sands SP family on 10 July 10. With Tom Z, found 3 chicks, still carefully tended by two adults. The family was back at its old stomping ground, within the symbolic fencing surrounding the exclosure (Orla extended the fencing west to the breakwater and out into the water at higher tides--great.) Yesterday (9 July) the family was foraging west of the breakwater, so they are mobile, but like the "boardwalk" family of a few years ago, they still return to their nesting spot.
In the video, two of the chicks are at the bottom edge of the images.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

American Oystercatcher, Black Skimmer 8 July 10

Two Black Skimmers were flying and skimming around the Milford Point spit on 8 July 10. Below is a poor video of the Skimmers:

The American Oystercatcher and chick: chick hurries over to parent. They are on the sandbar adjacent to the spit:

Cedar Beach, Mlf Pt chicks and fledgling 8 July 10

Photos from 8 July 10: first, a Cedar Beach adult; second a fledgling. The video captures 2 chicks on the east side of the Milford Point spit; probably this pair hatched from one of the 2 exclosures on the middle section of the spit. This chick pair, now approaching 2-weeks old, is being carefully tended by 2 adults (not in the video). There are six more chicks on the spit: 4 are probably the youngest Cedar Street quartet; the other 2 are probably from middle the spit's other exclosure. Around this time adults and fledglings from other nesting areas may congregate at the spit. A few shorebirds are now returning from their breeding grounds and joining the Piping Plovers at the water's edge, including Semipalmated Sandpipers, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, and Short-billed Dowitchers. Greater Yellowlegs are in the marsh. The American Oystercatchers and their single chick are now spending much time on the sandbar adjacent to the spit. (Two other Amoy pairs remain nearby.)

Silver Sands adult 7 July 10

This is one of the adults at Silver Sands State Park on 7 July 2010. The two adults have been tirelessly performing broken-wing displays to lure the local gulls away from the two active chicks.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New chick, Silver Sands, July 5, 2010

Two photos of the new chick, probably born on 5 July 2010, at the very crowded Silver Sands SP main beach. Two shots show the crowd around the exclosure; another shows the adult with the chick just visible in profile. One video shows the new chick with the adult male around 6:30 PM. The adults, often disturbed by people, were most alarmed by crows and gulls, often leaving the exclosure to follow the movements of their natural predators. Today, July 6, record heat (well into the 90s) will pose a challenge to the chicks. The other video shows the crowded scene: people and Piping Plovers.

Silver Sands newby chick 5 July 10

Two videos: first, the newly hatched chick at Silver Sands, July 5, 2010. Very hot day (90+), relentless sun, extremely crowded beach. Found chick around 1:15 PM, near low tide. Adults sheltered chick most of the time; only towards evening, around 6:30, did chick get to come out from what is a comparatively deep nest placed, atypically, in a large pile of slipper shells. The chick, still quite shaky, makes a few steps away from the adult (here the male, but the female did most of the brooding during the height of the sun). The adults were regularly alarmed by crows and gulls flying over and around the nest. Many people interested--many brochures passed out. The other video shows how close the mainly oblivious beachgoers are to the nest; when made aware of the new chick most people are sympathetic.