August 2018 - As of August 17th, there were eight western snowy plover chicks still running around on Limantour Beach and North Beach, but no more active nests. 2018 nesting season monitoring revealed a total of 50 nests at the two sites, which is a slight increase from the 46 found in 2017. Limantour Beach continued to be a plover hot spot this year with 15 nests. The stretch of beach between the North Beach parking lot and Abbotts Lagoon hosted 20 nests; the South Beach area three; Kehoe Beach five; and the Abbotts Lagoon restoration area seven.
However, because snowy plovers will re-nest multiple times within a season if previous nests fail, the number of nests that actually hatch chicks are a better measure of success than the total number. This year, only 42% of the nests survived to hatch, compared to 45.7% in 2017.
Furthermore, many plover chicks that did hatch were unable to survive for more than a week. Fledging success (the percent of chicks that survive to 28 days) is 18% so far this year, which is markedly lower than 2017 and 2016 (41.1% and 41.7%, respectively). The average fledging success for the past 22 years was 41.8%. However, if the last eight chicks fledge they will increase the season’s fledging success rate by 16%.
The banding program continues to help illuminate how these Point Reyes plovers fit into the overall Pacific Coast population. This year, a banded male that hatched in the Abbotts Lagoon restoration area in 2016 was found at Ten Mile Beach in Mendocino County where he successfully fledged 3 chicks. This the first time that beach has fledged chicks in over a decade. One of this season’s fledglings from Limantour Beach was also sighted in the bay by San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory biologists.
If you see a snowy plover banded with aqua (on top) and violet (on bottom) on the left leg, then you are looking at a bird that was hatched and raised in Point Reyes National Seashore! Please report these sightings to Matt Lau.