Plovers and other sea-birds near Big Bay, Cape Town.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

07-08-2008 Vanishing territory


Big Bay (Horse Trails)

(1/4 Moon tide - in-between tides (10 am. The low tide was at 7 am)

It is a sunny, warm and windless morning here on Blouberg Beach between the Horse Trails and the old drum.

It was not my intention to spend much time with the plovers today. There is not much more I can write about them, I thought. What needed to be written is done, I argued in my mind.

Habits persist, however. My eyes scanned the high tide mark. This is where they normally breed and hide from predators.

Immediately the narrowness of the plover area becomes evident. Before the dune stabilization was introduced, the high tide area stretched far out towards the road. Now the highest waves hits against the dunes, which developed because of the vegetation introduced by conservation efforts.

The area between Horse Trails and BCA already eroded the high tide mark, where the plovers like to be. The high tide now hits against a wall of sand created by a dune stabilization programme.

The same is happening between Big Bay and Horse Trails.

The plover habitat is between the Horse Trails and the old drum (halfway mark). They were behaving as if a female was breeding somewhere. Their colors are very light, and they are unusually camouflaged today.

Their three toed footprints are evidence of the areas they frequent, the narrow strip flotsam beyond the high tide mark.

I do not even know if it is possible for these twelve pair of plovers to be saved.

There are a few things that can be done to extend their existence a bit longer if we have a conservation group that regards them as worth conserving.

Possible solutions can be:

The Horse trail has a double entrance to the beach. Removing the one closer to Blouberg will stop people taking a shortcut over the dune and right over the plover-breeding zone.

Use the wooden fence around the footpath, to cordon off some of the plover territories.

Use notifications advising people to stay clear of these areas.

These fences may have to be shifted or will disappear under the sand, but it is at least doing something.

Microchip some of the plovers to study their movements when this area becomes too unfriendly.

Before I close this blog, I will have to write a few letters of appeal on behalf of these little birds, but I am not very hopeful.

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