Conserve Wildlife Blog

Plovers in Paradise

November 6th, 2013

The Bahamas Blog – Trip 1, Day 3

By Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager and Stephanie Egger, Wildlife Biologist

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Todd Pover posing next to CWFNJ Bahamas Plover-mobile

Today we hit the road in search of piping plovers in the Bahamas. We covered several sites in the southern half of Abaco between Marsh Harbor and Sandy Point. First up was the beach near Crossing Rocks. We stood a moderate chance of seeing plovers there as either tracks or birds had been detected on surveys in recent years.

As we stepped out on the ocean facing beach, which looked very similar to one we might see in New Jersey (discounting the palm trees and turquoise water), we saw another familiar sight in the distance; a flock of tiny shorebirds racing up and down with the incoming waves. Classic sanderling behavior. Except they weren’t sanderlings – they were piping plovers. Ten, twenty, thirty, forty…can there really be fifty piping plovers here? The final tally came in at 53 piping plovers…the mother lode and more than we had ever seen in one place!

One of the most striking parts of this discovery was the type of habitat where this many birds

The pathway to the plover mother lode! (Crossing Rocks, Abaco)

The pathway to the plover mother lode!
Crossing Rocks, Abaco

were found. It was not on a tidal flat such as on Green Turtle Cay, which was the case yesterday, and appears to be more typical in the Bahamas for large flocks. We found them at mid-tide; some were resting on the upper beach, but many were foraging at the water’s edge. We obviously still have a great deal to learn about what type of habitat piping plovers use in the Bahamas and what influence tidal stage has on that use.

The rest of the day was bound to be a letdown after our first survey, but that wasn’t really the case. We made it to the southern end of the island (Sandy Point) where we were greeted by expansive shallow water flats. We missed peak low tide so didn’t really attempt a full survey – this was recon for our return trip in January or for local volunteers to survey.

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Stephanie Egger, CWFNJ, surveying for piping plovers at Casuarina Point

Last on the plover checklist for the day was Casuarina Point, a known piping plover site on Abaco. We hit it right at the low tide as the sun was getting ready to set. We had to wade out to the flats – they were loaded with shorebirds, mostly sanderlings this time, but another 17 piping plovers, as well. Of course, it isn’t really just about the numbers, but we were still a pretty pumped about the results. The first two days of the trip have exceeded our expectations.

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One Response to “Plovers in Paradise”

  1. Tina Brako says:

    Awesome job Stephanie Egger!!!

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