Winged Wednesday XXI: "Common birds" not always common
2010 was not a good year for piping plovers on Laudholm Beach, though the overall Maine population held steady. Maine Audubon reports that 30 breeding pairs fledged 49 young along the state's sandy shorelines, with beaches from Kennebunk to Fortunes Rocks in Biddeford being the strongholds this year, but Laudholm put up zeros for nests and young.
Why the poor performance? A couple of educated guesses: Erosion has limited the amount of high quality nesting habitat available, and the narrow strip that does exist is difficult to protect from people walking along the beach. Any plover pair considering a nest site will simply move on if regularly disturbed. Just across the river, the plovers did well, but it would be nice to host these cute and endangered birds on "our" side again soon.
The piping plover is included in the Wells Reserve's "99 Common Birds" brochure based on Laudholm Beach's once consistent record in supporting the birds over the summer, but as I went through my 2010 list, checking which of those 99 I saw and which I missed, the plover fell into the latter category.
As with any "miss" from the common birds list, more visits to the right habitat might have helped; nearby plovers must have foraged on the wet sand sometime over the summer, and migrants likely stopped by, too. Make "More time birding" a new year's resolution?
Simple inattention might explain the absense of snowy egret and turkey vulture from my 2010 Wells Reserve compilation, and time-of-day and seasonal oversights surely cost me the woodcock and the red-breasted nuthatch. In the end, I spotted (or heard) just 89 of the 99 common birds, but also noted 38 others not in the brochure.
Another year, another opportunity to improve my annual Wells Reserve tally. Starting now...
- House Finch
- European Starling
- American Crow