Wilson’s Plover & Chick, Delphi Club Beach, Abaco (Sandy Walker)
WORLD SHOREBIRDS DAY – ABACO’S 33 SHORE SPECIES (3): PLOVERS
Over the last 2 days, 20 of Abaco’s 33 shorebird species have been featured, LARGER SHOREBIRDS followed by SANDPIPERS. The third part of the series concentrates on the 6 plover species found on Abaco. First, I’ve repeated the main Abaco shorebird checklist of 26 species (birds previously featured in bold), with each bird’s ‘availability’ code. I am disregarding the 7 species listed under the checklist because (1) they are transients or vagrants and your chances of encountering one are slim to remote; and (2) because in 16 months I was unable to obtain photos of any of them taken on Abaco, which can’t simply be because they are not photogenic. I still haven’t managed to deal with the shonky formatting, so I’ve given up on that…
The codes will tell you, for any particular bird, when you may see it (P = permanent, WR = winter resident, TR = transient, V = vagrant); whether it breeds (B) on Abaco; and your chance of seeing it, graded from easy (1) to vanishingly unlikely (5).
- Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus PR B 3
- American Avocet Recurvirostra americana WR 4
- American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus PR B 2
- Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola WR 1
- American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica TR 4
- Wilson’s Plover Ochthodromus wilsonia PR B 2
- Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus WR 2
- Piping Plover Charadrius melodus WR 3
- Killdeer Charadrius vociferus WR 2
- Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius WR 1
- Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria WR 2
- Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca WR 2
- Willet Tringa semipalmata PR B 2
- Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes WR 3
- Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres PR 2
- Red Knot Calidris canutus WR 3
- Sanderling Calidris alba WR 1
- Dunlin Calidris alpina WR 2
- Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla WR 2
- White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis TR 3
- Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla TR 2
- Western Sandpiper Calidris Mauri TR 2
- Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus WR 1
- Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus WR 4
- Wilson’s Snipe Gallinago delicata WR 3
- Wilson’s Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor V 4
The other 7 species of shorebird recorded for Abaco – all transients or vagrants – are: Upland Sandpiper TR 4, Whimbrel TR 4, Hudsonian Godwit V5, Marbled Godwit V5, Buff-breasted Sandpiper V5, Pectoral Sandpiper TR 3, Stilt Sandpiper TR 3
PLOVERS ON ABACO
The best-known of the 6 Abaco plover species is the Wilson’s Plover, because it is the only permanent resident. The American Golden Plover is a rare transient, but we luckily have one taken on on Abaco. All the others are winter residents and easy to middling hard to find. All except the American Golden Plover may be found on the beach at Delphi or the rocks at either end. The Piping Plover is the most interesting species, with a mere 8000 left in the world and a vigorous conservation program to protect them and their habitat. Their summer breeding range is in Canada, central US and the eastern seaboard. In winter they migrate south, and Abaco is one of their homes. At Delphi we are very fortunate that every year some choose the beach for their winter retreat.
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER Pluvialis squatarola WR 1
You may well wonder why a bird with such a very specific belly-related colour designation has a white one in the photo. It’s because this is the non-breeding plumage (in fact, intermediate), so I have borrowed from Audubon Magazine (‘tip of the hat’) to show a non-Abaco bird in its breeding plumage.
AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER Pluvialis dominica TR 4
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER Charadrius semipalmatus WR 2
KILLDEER Charadrius vociferus WR 2
PIPING PLOVER Charadrius melodus WR 3
WILSON’S PLOVER Ochthodromus wilsonia PR B 2
This permanent resident plover is a year-round presence on the Delphi Club beach, where in summer they nest and raise their tiny fluffball chicks (see Sandy Walker’s wonderful header image). I’m posting in some detail about these because it’s a while since I featured them. Links to other relevant posts are given below. All the following photos bar 1 were taken on the beach at Delphi.
The photo below was taken by Tom Sheley at Nettie’s Point, the skiff launching point for the day’s bonefishing on the Marls. The plover pair had made a scrape and nested there. They chose a tricky place to do so – it was just where the trucks are turned after off-loading the skiffs. So the guides built a protective driftwood enclosure to protect the nest and prevent tragedy. The plovers, unfazed by the human proximity and activity, raised their family safely. I mostly saw the female on the nest within the square wooden pen, with the male usually close by, standing guard protectively.
This plover, photographed on the Delphi beach, is performing a typical ‘broken wing’ display, a tactic used to draw predators away from a nest site. The bird makes itself appear to be wounded and vulnerable, and flaps pathetically about on the ground… gradually getting further from the nest. If the going gets tough and the predator gets too close for comfort, the plover gets going by unexpectedly flying off.
TWO MORE FROM THE DELPHI BEACH
WILSON’S PLOVERS (1) ‘Dream Plover’
WILSON’S PLOVERS (2) Nest Protection
WILSON’S PLOVERS (3) Scrapes, Chicks & Broken Wings
Photo credits: Sandy Walker, Tom Sheley, Audubon, Tony Hepburn, Bruce Hallett, Tom Reed, Craig Nash, Clare Latimer, RH