July 2014 - Six Legs and Trouble
This piping plover (with two chicks under wing) is causing a lot of trouble. Large portions of Massachusetts beaches are fenced off for most of the summer to protect the birds and their chicks. It seems the billions of dollars poured into restoring Massachusetts beaches over the past several decades have made the beaches habitable not only for humans, but for the plovers as well. Now the battle lines are drawing.
A Boston Globe article earlier this summer advocated for less roped-off area of beaches to allow summer bathers to enjoy the fruits of a decades long cleanup of Boston Harbor. To quote the article " The most important number on Boston Harbor is bacteria-free beach days, not plover eggs."
For the bird's part, they have rebounded tremendously along the Atlantic coast since coming under protection in the 1980's as a threatened species. And newer studies show that natural causes - predators, storms - may now have more impact on the plover's success than human interaction. In fact, there is some suggestion that plovers are more successful on beaches used heavily by humans as predators are less likely inhabit those busy areas.
Canon 1D MK IV, Canon 600mm lens + 1.4x Teleconverter, ISO 400, 1/2000s at f5.6, tripod and gimbal head
Photographed at Plymouth Beach, Massachusetts. Copyright Ken Canning