Since early June (2014), a rare occurrence has taken place at Port Elgin beach on Lake Huron.
A pair of endangered Piping Plovers decided to make their nest and raise their young. Four eggs were laid and all four hatched. Almost immediately, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Town of Saugeen Shores took steps to ensure the safety of the nest.
A large section of the public beach was cordoned off and a cage constructed over the nest to protect it from predators.
The parents only recently left the beach, having stayed with their brood far longer than expected and their young have also stayed much longer than is normal. All four siblings have also stayed together at the Port Elgin beach site, which again is somewhat rare according to experts. It would appear that the family chose Port Elgin and decided to stay given the safety that was provided.
According to Stuart Nutt, who has tracked the Piping Plovers for a number of years, a Merlin Hawk was recently seen in the area and, therefore, he said he expected that it would not be long before the Plovers left to head south for the winter.
Saugeen Shores CAO, Larry Allison, confirmed on Sunday (Aug. 3/14) that the Piping Plovers had in fact left the beach area.
It was amazing how the town, the region and visitors ‘adopted’ the family of Piping Plovers. Signs were posted and ‘tape’ barriers erected and everyone respected them. Photographers came from far and wide to take photos of the family and children watched enthralled with the young feathered family.
The Town of Saugeen Shores went ‘above and beyond’ to protect and foster the young endangered birds who also quickly became a major tourist attraction for visitors.
According to MNR experts, it is anticipated that should the family of Plovers reach their southern winter destination and back again to Canada, it is most likely they will return to their original nesting site … Port Elgin beach.