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Wildlife Branch


Piping Plover Monitoring

2008 Nesting Updates

Throughout the months of May and June (May 3 – June 18) initial nesting area surveys were conducted at all 16 sites surveyed in 2007, plus 12 additional sites.

Traditional sites were surveyed initially to assess habitat suitability and nesting potential for Piping Plover. Of the 28 sites surveyed, only 13 were considered potentially suitable Piping Plover habitat – Grand Beach, Grand Marais, Patricia Beach, Beaconia Beach, Clandeboye bay SCA, Twin Lakes Beach, Riverton Sandy bar, Gimli Beach, Willow Point, Stony Beach (shoreline across from Clandeboye Bay SCA in particular), Elk Island, Albert Beach, and Whitewater Lake (due to low water levels in the spring). In addition to these 13 high priority sites, 12 other beaches were surveyed it least once in May and June, with exception to Gull Bay and Whitewater Lake which were both only surveyed once during the breeding season. Grand Beach was surveyed and monitored every second day by program staff and volunteers, with daily monitoring beginning on May 29 and ending August 13.

Three nests were discovered at Grand Beach in the month of May. The first in Parking Lot #5 (North East section), the second on the West Beach Blowout site, and the third was found in Parking Lot #5 (South West corner).

Parking Lot #5 Nest #1 (NE section)

  • Discovered on May 25, 2008 with 3 eggs in the nest. A predator exclosure was installed this same day and an enclosure fence was installed on May 27, 2008. The fourth egg was laid on May 27, 2008. Based on a 25-28 day incubation stage the hatch dates for this nest will be June 21- 24. The first egg hatched on June 22 at 15:00h. Unfortunately, only one egg hatched out of the four in the nest. This chick successfully fledged on July 17, 2008.

West Beach Blowout site

  • Habitat restoration at this former nesting site in 2007 resulted in the first successful nesting of plovers at this site in over a decade. This success carried forward in 2008 with a pair of plovers successfully nesting in this site once again. This nest was discovered on May 25, 2008 inside the fence enclosure which was installed prior to the arrival of the birds breeding season. One egg was in the nest on this day. A predator exclosure was placed around the nest on May 26, 2008. A fourth egg was discovered on May 29, 2008. Estimated hatch dates for this nest was June 23-26.

  • Incident: On June 4, 2008 both of the West beach plovers were off the nest, and it came to our attention that the female of the pair was injured with blood under her right wing. The nest was without either pair incubating for a couple of hours on this morning. Eventually the pair headed back to the nest and continued regular incubation on this date. Program staff carefully monitored this nest in particular over the next few days. Irregular incubation periods continued for three days after the initial injury. The female’s injury seemed to be superficial and she eventually resumed regular incubation. This event resulted in a lengthier incubation period. Three out of four eggs hatched over almost a 24 hour period from 12pm on June 30 to early morning July 1. All three chicks fledged on July 24, 2008.

Parking Lot #5 Nest #2 (SW corner)

  • nest was discovered on May 29, 2008 with 2 eggs in the nest. A predator exclosure and snow fence enclosure were both installed this day. Estimated hatch dates for this nest were June 24-26.

  • Incident: in the evening of June 10, early morning June 11 an unknown predator (sightings of a skunk in the area) entered the nest area, disturbed the pair and predated one of the eggs. One of the three remaining eggs was left sitting outside the exclosure, intact, and two were left seemingly undisturbed in the nest. Unfortunately, the pair did not return to the nest, resulting in its complete abandonment.

The Channel (re-nest)

  • was discovered on June 20, 2008 with 2 eggs in the nest. A predator exclosure and protective fencing were placed on and around the nesting site on June 21, 2008.  A third egg was found on June 22 and a fourth followed on June 24. Estimated hatch dates for this nest were July 19-22, though it has been noted that many re-nests hatch earlier than the usual norm of 25-28 days of incubation. Four chicks hatched from this nest over a 48 hour period beginning with the first chick arriving on July 17 in the early evening and the fourth on July 19 in the morning. Habitat recreation efforts in the fall of 2007 and active management in the spring of 2008 successfully attracted the pair from parking lot #5 (nest #2) to a restored elevated site away from the waters edge. In recent years, nests in this area have invariably failed due to flooding. This site had the highest chick/hatchling success, with all four chicks successfully fledging on Aug 11, 2008. 
Elk Island Provincial Park
  • Again, this year, a nesting pair was discovered at Elk Island Provincial Park. Due to limited access to the island, the nest was discovered later in the season on June 18, 2008. The nest was discovered with only three eggs (possibly due to predation, fourth egg not laid as of yet, or a re-nest). This site was monitored twice a week due to limited access and human resources. On June 24, the adult pair were no where to be seen, which after monitoring the site for the day was evident they had abandoned the nest. Three additional surveys of the island were conducted in hopes to locate the missing pair (and possibly another nest) sadly the pair were not seen again at Elk Island.

2008 Summary

All eight hatchlings/chicks survived to their fledging date for a 100% chick survival rate for the 2008 breeding season – a first for the Manitoba recovery program! Which is 62.5% higher than the national and provincial goal of 1.25 chicks per adult pair.

The long term goal of the Manitoba Piping Plover Stewardship Program is to achieve a self-sustaining population of 120 adult plovers as defined in the National Recovery Strategy. In order to achieve this goal, the national recovery team has estimated that a minimum annual productivity of 1.25 chicks per nesting pair would be required. Increasing the current population in Manitoba is achievable as seen by the results of recent recovery initiatives. The last three seasons have produced an average fledging rate of 2.15 chicks/pair, as well as, the three highest records for productivity in Manitoba. With continued support, cooperation, and coordinated mitigative strategies, continued success is anticipated in the 2009 nesting season.