Piping Plovers Have Returned to Seabrook Island’s North Beach

This weekend (July 22-25, 2016), Aija Konrad spotted, and Ed Konrad photographed, what may be our first two Piping Plovers returning from the north. As Janet Thibault advised at the June SIB meeting, we could expect to see them return later in July. In reporting the sightings on eBird, Aija learned that these Piping Plovers are quite special and of great interest. They were banded in the Bahamas in 2015, and are being closely tracked by the Bahamas Shorebird Conservation Initiative, in conjunction with US Fish and Wildlife and the National Audubon Society.

These Piping Plovers have pink flags on their upper right legs, labeled 47 and OJ. Aija and Ed saw 47 just one day in the protected bird area on North Beach. OJ has been seen the past three days at low tide on North Beach.Here’s what we’ve learned about these celebrities from Matt Jeffery, Deputy Director & Director for the Caribbean International Alliances Program, National Audubon Society, Washington D.C.

Pink Flag OJ was banded November 27th 2015 in the newly created Joulter Cays National Park, just north of Andros Island in the Bahamas. The Banding Team was from Bahamas National Trust, National Audubon, Virginia Tech and USFWS.
Piping Plover "OJ" seen on North Beach of Seabrook Island July 22, 2016 - Aija & Ed Konrad
Piping Plover “OJ” seen on North Beach of Seabrook Island July 23-25, 2016 – Aija & Ed Konrad

OJ was hanging out in Maine for the breeding season, and reported on 23-May-16 on Fortune’s Rocks Beach, Maine; 20-Jun-16, Parsons Beach, Kennebunk, Maine – reported to be female nesting. Unfortunately, her nesting attempt was unsuccessful; 8-Jul-16, Laudholm Beach, Wells, Maine, in a flock of about 20 other Piping Plovers.

Hopefully she may be seen on the Joulter Cays this October when the area is surveyed.

Pink Flag (47) was banded 5-Feb-2015 in the Berry Islands, The Bahamas at a place called Ambergris Cay just south of Great Harbor Cay. This area is the second most important site in The Bahamas for Piping Plover with approximately 7% of the Atlantic breeding population there each winter. The banding team included, National Audubon, Bahamas National Trust, Virginia Tech and USFWS. Currently Audubon is working with BNT and the Government of the Bahamas to make the area a new protected area for birds and marine life.

Piping Plover "47" seen on North Beach of Seabrook Island July 22, 2016 - Aija & Ed Konrad
Piping Plover “47” seen on North Beach of Seabrook Island July 22, 2016 – Aija & Ed Konrad

#47 has also been reported: 7/3/2015 Elizabeth A. Morton NWR, NY; 7/16/2015 – South Point Ocracoke. Cape Hatteras NS in North Carolina by Virginia Tech shorebird team; 5/10/2016 – Wade’s Beach Shelter Island, NY; 29-May-16 – Otis Pike Wilderness Area, Long Island NY.

You can keep track of the migrating birds associated with The Bahamas Shorebird Conservation Initiative by “liking” their Facebook page:

We hope you will take time to grab your binoculars and walk along North Beach to search for our celebrity visitors OJ and 47. Be sure to let us know if you see them!  As National Audubon reminds us, be sure to share the shore with plovers and other birds by:
  • Leaving no trace. Remove all trash and recycle whenever possible.
  • Disposing of fishing line properly.
  • Obeying our local laws regarding dogs.
  • Respecting protected areas and signs.
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