Snowy plovers in times of COVID-19

Tiempo de lectura | Reading time: 4 minutos

By Jonathan Vargas

Due to the coronavirus contingency (COVID-19), the beaches of Ensenada have had a slight respite when access to the public was prohibited as a security measure.

Only access is allowed for surveillance activities in order to avoid the congregation of people and transmission of the virus, so we too decided to limit our field trips and activites.

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Photo: Jonathan Vargas.

Fortunately, the species of birds that depend on sandy beaches to nest such as the snow plover (Charadrius nivosus) and the least tern (Sternula antillarum) are among the first beneficiaries, since this quarantine coincides with the breeding season that occurs during April to August, thus reducing the risk of nest loss due to the presence of people, and increasing the chances of success.

Despite the fact that there is less presence of people on the beaches due to the quarantine, we decided to continue with our plan to protect the nesting areas, which is why on April 4, 2020 we installed the temporary protection fence on the Ciprés beach, located in front of Pacifica at Ensenada Bay. In total 135,851.31 square feet were protected, so we hope this is a good season for them.

Due to the contingency, we were unable to make the public invitation to participate in the installation.

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Photo: Bryan Gerardo.

In our latest monitoring trips in the Bahía Todos Santos Shorebird Reserve, we have found several snowy plover nests, adding more than 15 so far this season. Unfortunately, several have been depredated and others have failed due to the tide and waves.

But it is not all bad news, there are also good news. We were delighted to find several of the adults we tagged last year, including our star Marina (although Marina was already banded in California).

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Marina. Photo: Jonathan Vargas.

Fortunately last week we located the nest to protect it, and although the first fence we put on it was stolen, we did not give up and reinstalled it, and so we hope this nest can survive until hatching.

We also found two of the chickens that were born last year, and that we marked with the P4 and N7 flags, which confirms their survival. Also, we found several individuals who were tagged with GPS receivers last year in collaboration with Dr. Luke Eberhart Phillips.

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Snowy plover banded with the code P4. Photo: Jonathan Vargas.
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Snowy plover banded with the code N7. Photo: Jonathan Vargas.

We are very excited, because if we can recapture them, the information stored in their GPS will give us a better understanding of the patterns of migration and habitat use, and the sites on which they depend around the year.

This year the campaign “La playa es de todos” (the beach belongs to everyone) is carried out thanks to the support of Manomet, Coastal Solutions Fellows Program and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN).

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