John Van de Graaff

By VandeGraaff

Piping Plover Chick Running

This morning we went back to West Dennis Beach on Cape Cod. The least tern chicks (see yesterday's blip) were less in evidence, but we saw four piping plover families, with two to 4 chicks each. A previous blip of an adult plover is here.

The plover chicks are about 3.5 to 4 inches or 10 cm long, and all seemed roughly the same age--perhaps 5-10 days (though I've not an expert on this), and all were characteristically very active--they run almost faster than our eyes can follow--and they feed themselves on micro-organisms on the beach starting a day or so after hatching. (Least tern chicks are much less agile on land--as indeed are their parents, who fly and dive into the sea to catch the small fish they feed on.) Both piping plovers and least terns are listed as threatened to endangered, depending on location and the responsible jurisdiction.

MAJOR EDIT: While on the beach, I chatted with a fellow named Paul (also with a camera); he turned out to be from Nova Scotia and mentioned his car license plate with a piping plover (the extra fee went for conservation purposes). A wonderful coincidence, and I've updated the blip to include it.

Later in the morning we drove to Wellfleet and took down my exhibition at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (Massachusetts Audubon). The staff were clearly sorry to see it end, and said visitors had enjoyed it as well. The images from the show are on my website here.

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