To the Editor:
This is an open letter to the Mayor and Council as well as the residents of Sauble Beach.
My daughter and I drove over 10 hours from our homes in Northern Ontario in order to participate in the Huron Fringe Birding Festival. The highlight of our four days at the festival was our visit to the two nests of Piping Plovers on Sauble Beach. How lucky you are that these highly endangered shorebirds have chosen to nest and raise their young on your beach.
At our guided session, we learned that in order to protect the two nests during the crucial weeks of nesting and chick rearing, specialized exclosures have been built that cleverly protect the nests from predators while still allowing the plovers to get in and out. Around the exclosure, an area measuring approximately 100m x 100m, or 50m in radius with the nest at the centre, has been temporarily roped off. This creates a buffer zone that keeps well-meaning visitors from getting too close to the nests.
We learned that a study was done that showed that the plovers prefer a ‘natural’ beach to a raked beach, as natural beaches provide optimal habitat for foraging and refuge. Some humans prefer a raked beach. Thank you for helping the birds by doing what suits them, rather than what suits the humans. Thank you for understanding that each of us must play a role in helping species, especially endangered species, to survive. This unselfish way of thinking contributes to our own survival as a species.
As visitors to your community, we have made contributions to the local economy by eating in some of your restaurants, shopping in some of your stores, buying gas and staying in a motel. We know that other birders also support your local businesses.
Ongoing local support of the Piping Plover nesting project will most likely attract more visitors who care about the natural environment. These visitors will be ready to spend money in your community during their visit.
This is a win-win situation. Firstly, you are helping to protect an endangered species. This will give Sauble Beach and its residents a reputation as good stewards of the natural environment. Secondly, having these very special birds living on your beach for a few weeks will attract visitors who will travel from far and wide just to see them. There will be positive economic benefits. And thirdly, not raking the beach for a few weeks will save the municipality some money.
Your temporary feathered residents are very special shorebirds with many interesting behaviours. The more you get to know them, the more you will care about their future. And you will be doing your part to protect our planet and all its creatures.
For more information, please visit ploverlovers.com
I hope you can use this letter. I would have loved to become a volunteer monitor on Sauble Beach, helping to educate visitors about this very special bird that is in great need of human help. It is all about education. If people know the dire situation facing these birds, they will care. This letter is all I can do to help them. I hope you use it.
Frances Anne Côté
Iroquois Falls, ON
Editor’s NOTE: Port Elgin (Saugeen Shores) was the first to use the exclosure in 2014 that resulted in four successful hatchings that reached adulthood. (to see more of their development go to Features – https://saugeentimes.com/?s=Piping+Plovers) Saugeen Shores also received a letter of commendation from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) for its stewardship of the Piping Plovers.