This past weekend was a difficult one for nesting piping plovers in southern and mid-coast Maine. The high tides and rain storms washed out many of the nests, burying eggs under the sand.
Following an early Spring, this year’s nesting season started earlier than usual given the birds a great head start. Recent weather events came at a time when some of the nests had already hatched, but many nests were due to hatch in the next couple of days. So far we are not aware of any casualties among the adult plovers, however we believe that at least 15 chicks were lost with the inclement weather. Only 5 nests remained intact in the State after the weekend weather, while 22 nests were lost from Ogunquit to Georgetown.
Piping Plovers have been known to renest after the 1st nesting attempt has failed and since it is still early in the season, we are hopeful that at least some of the birds will renest, but even so, they face additional challenges since those who renest will be incubating and tending chicks in the middle of the summer when beaches are more crowded.
Right now we are working hard to remove fallen exclosures and assess damage; we will keep you posted on our progress. We also encourage anyone who has any information about possible dead plover chicks or new nesting activity to contact us.
This is a good reminder of how fragile and vulnerable Piping Plovers are. We thank the beachgoers who respect our requests to stay away from nesting areas and keep their dogs on leash. We welcome and appreciate any questions you may have for us. After this recent weather setback, we really need everyone’s cooperation and assistance in order to help these birds overcome this hurdle and be successful this season. With just about 40 pairs now, more than ever, every egg counts!
Written by Erik Ndayishimiye