Every five years, volunteers and staff from conservation organizations and government agencies across North America survey for Piping Plovers during winter and breeding periods. This tremendous, cross-border collaboration has identified key wintering areas, including The Bahamas. In the winter of 2016, Nova Scotia volunteers Nazo Gabrielian and Lynda Robertson travelled to Exuma, an island in The Bahamas, to assist in the winter census. Over a five-day period, Nazo and Lynda counted 126 Piping Plovers on Exuma and its cays!
More Piping Plovers nest on Shelburne County beaches than in any other part of Nova Scotia, making them especially critical to plovers' recovery. With support from NS Departments of Natural Resources and Environment, the Shelburne County Beach Stewardship Group, a collaborative project guided by Bird Studies Canada staff, local municipalities, and Shelburne County Tourism Association, has been developing a framework for wise stewardship of county beaches. Guided by the vision 'Healthy Beaches for People and Wildlife in Shelburne County,' the group compiled a set of beach best practices and is working collaboratively to integrate them into municipal and tourism operations and communications.
Aileen Smith and her daughter Julie have spent hundreds of hours helping monitor and protect Piping Plovers on beaches in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia. Both enjoy backyard birding. A 2001 field trip sparked Aileen's interest in Piping Plovers, and she has been a volunteer ever since. Julie joined Aileen when she could, and in recent years she's played an important role in gathering and sharing information about plovers on local beaches. Aileen and Julie feel fortunate to contribute to Piping Plover conservation while continuing to learn about plovers. They marvel at the resilience of these small shorebirds that return to nest on nearby beaches year after year.
Beaches are important recreational spaces for communities, and valuable assets for tourism. Balancing recreational needs with those of beach-dependent wildlife, like Piping Plovers, is critical for effective long-term conservation. White Point Beach Resort, an iconic Nova Scotia business, works hard at achieving this balance and has become a leading beach steward. Since the first arrival of a nesting pair in 2012, Resort staff have worked closely with Bird Studies Canada on implementing best practices at their beach with great results: a total of 12 fledglings produced!