Snowy plovers are again attempting to nest at Carpinteria State Beach just east of the mouth of Carpinteria Creek. State park biologists discovered the nest on Monday, March 21, 2022, when they placed an anti-predator exclosure over the nest and established a protective rope fence around the area. I learned about the nesting attempt when I visited the site on Tuesday, March 22.
Here’s what I wrote about the nesting attempt in a posting to the sbcobirding email list:
Yesterday state park biologists discovered an active snowy plover nest on the beach just east of the mouth of Carpinteria Creek, in the same location where a successful nesting happened last summer. I didn’t know about it, but saw the protective rope fencing and anti-predator exclosure when I was birding the beach this morning. I observed a female bird on the nest and a male on the beach nearby, and got some more details while chatting with the park ranger who was keeping an eye on the nest and intercepting people walking their dogs on the beach.
There are three eggs in the nest, reportedly. At one point a person walking along the beach approached the rope line near the exclosure and flushed the female bird off the nest; at that point I took some distant photos of her color bands. The bird is pa:yb, one of the birds rescued and reared at the Santa Barbara Zoo after a high tide washed out a number of nests at Devereaux Slough in July 2019. This is the same bird that attempted to nest at this Carpinteria location in the spring of 2020, only to have her nest destroyed during a high tide. She’s a different bird from the older female (nw:rb) that successfully nested at this site last summer, although pa:yb has been seen at this spot at least twice since her unsuccessful 2020 nesting attempt.
The male bird is unbanded. The ranger I spoke with said the biologists who were at the site yesterday saw two other plovers in the vicinity, raising the hope that we might get an additional nesting pair. I didn’t see any other plovers during my visit today, however.
Some photos are in the following eBird list:
If you visit the site, please give the birds their space. If one approaches the nest exclosure too closely, even staying outside the roped-off area, it can be enough to push the birds off the nest. With the heavy use this site gets already, any extra disturbance from well-meaning plover fans would be unfortunate.
The park ranger also asked me to pass on the following: If people visit the site it’s fine to answer questions and help with public outreach, but please remember that even though dogs are not allowed on Carpinteria State Beach, as private citizens we have no enforcement authority. My experience from plover watching last summer is that the large majority of people, including dog walkers, are happy to help out by avoiding disturbances to the birds once they understand what’s going on. But a low-key, educational approach is more likely to be successful than confrontation.
I plan to update the following web page at the Carpinteria Birdwatchers site with information about the current nesting attempt as it develops: https://carpbirdwatchers.org/the-carp-snowy-plovers/.
Update as of April 22
Information on the hatching of the first nest of 2022, and the establishment of a second nest, are in this blog post: Snowy plover update: Two chicks and a second nest!
Update as of April 25
I sent the following update to the sbcobirding email list:
As a followup to my earlier report, the snowy plover nest on Carpinteria State Beach that was discovered on March 21 hatched 3 chicks on or around April 18. One of those chicks fell prey to an American crow within the first few days, but the other two are still going strong. See the following eBird list for some photos I took this morning:
Around the time when the first nest’s eggs were hatching, a second pair of plovers established a nest a few hundred feet to the west, closer to the mouth of Carpinteria Creek. The second nest has its own separate roped-off area and its own wire anti-predator exclosure, and was being incubated by an adult when I visited this morning. Four other adult plovers were in the area, including two engaged in courtship behavior, in which a male nestled in a scrape while a female watched. So who knows? Maybe we’ll get three nests this year.
Alexis Frangis with California State Parks has offered to hold docent training at Carpinteria State Beach for interested volunteers; I and a number of other people have expressed interest. If you would like to be included please let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll pass your contact information on to Alexis.