The International Piping Plover breeding census began in 1991 and is conducted every five years (1996, 2001, and 2006). The goal of the International Census is to assess the current status and distribution of the species and provide a measure of the success of recent recovery efforts for the species. Since the first census in 1991, the Canadian population results have continuously increased from the previous census year with increases of 22% from 1991, 7% from 1996, 78% from 2001, and 50% in 2006. Though the Canadian population seems to be on the rise, the Manitoban population has continued to steadily decline from 80 adults birds detected in 1991 to a mere 8 in 2006.
Selected surveys were conducted throughout the Piping Plover nesting season on Lake Winnipeg, Lake Manitoba, and other inland lakes such as, West Shoal Lake. Twenty nesting sites were surveyed in Manitoba in 2009, and a total of 9 Piping Plovers were observed (four nesting pairs) by program staff in 2009; 6 at Grand Beach Provincial Park and 2 at Gimli Beach, and 1 at Willow Island (south of the town of Gimli). Though some of these sites appeared to be more suitable than others (based on the level of disturbance, vegetation encroachment, high water levels, etc.), no other plovers were detected during the breeding season by recovery staff, however 4 individual adult plovers were reported by local bird watchers at Delta Marsh (2) in early May and Gimli beach (2) on June 28. Post-season surveys were completed at all twenty sites to ensure habitat was similar to pre-nesting season. Many sites were deemed unsuitable at this time due to increased water levels.
Manitoba Conservation works within communities like Grand Beach Provincial Park to promote public awareness on Piping Plover recovery efforts in Manitoba and to recruit guardian volunteers. Volunteer Guardians are needed to help monitor nests and chicks during the breeding season, especially when the chicks are young and most vulnerable (end of June to early August). Great strides have been made in recent years to improve and refine recovery management techniques for plovers and to more actively involve the public and guardian volunteers in these efforts. Without a doubt, the dedication of our volunteers to the guardian program this nesting season has resulted in a great Piping Plover nesting season. We hope to see many of these volunteers return and interest in the program grow further in the upcoming 2010 nesting season.
The Manitoba Piping Plover Recovery Program would once again like to thank all the volunteers and Park staff who dedicated their time in making this another successful breeding season.
For those of you who were unable to help with the program this year, but are interested in helping out next season, please contact the Manitoba Piping Plover Program Coordinator in April of 2010 by email or phone at 945-6817. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!