Paintings, Field Notes and Piping Plovers

"On the Cusp" ©2016 Rose Tanner oil on linen 16" x 20" SOLD

Why the Piping Plover Matters

Endangered birds are a gauge to the health of our environment.  By protecting the endangered we reassess our environment and our actions to come up with solutions for the species survival.  It leads to growth, education, community and improves the environment,  wouldn't you say these are all great reasons to protect the endangered?

Where can you see this amazing endangered bird?

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, if your lucky you may even see the chicks hatch. For more information click here to learn about Nancy Island and the Piping Plovers.

A New Endangered Life

 "New Endangered Life" ©2016 Rose Tanner Oil on Linen 16" x 20" 

I watched in awe as eggs from two nests hatched right before my eyes. The interaction  between the parents, new born chicks and other male Piping Plovers was fascinating.  
The mother helped break the last chick out of the egg by squeezing it between her body. I saw one chick running around while the others were drying off.  

There was a territory dispute when an aggressive male confronted the pair near the nest, but it ended with a stand off and the aggressor retreated.   Soon the chicks were all up and running unaware of the hungry seagulls flying above or the hundreds of people being kept out of the nesting area a few metres away.  

“The Chicks are Hatching” ©2016 Rose Tanner, Oil on linen 11"x 14"  
Whenever I see a bird in the wild do something deliberate, like protect their young, the act is proof of a kind of intelligence.   It makes me curious and inspires me.  Once a chick hatches the Piping Plover will quickly carry the egg shells away from the nest, they don't want to draw attention, especially from the gulls and crows.  

​"First Day" © 2016 Rose Tanner 16" x 20" Oil on Linen  SOLD
Did you know Piping Plovers are precocial which means the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of hatching. This painting is called "First Day" because it was literally their first day of life.  I tried to show the vulnerability of the chicks in this painting.

Territory disputes among Piping Plovers are interesting to watch.  They can be quite aggressive charging at each other, puffing their plumage to look larger and the occasional pecking. The pair you see on the right in this painting were defending their territory around their newborn chicks.  They did a good job to stand ground and keep the aggressor away from the nest.  Often in nature it's all about the show. 

Territory Dispute

"Territory Dispute" ©2016 Rose Tanner Oil on linen 20" x 10"

It's as much about the volunteers

When I decided to do a series of paintings on an endangered species I quickly fell in love with the Piping Plover.  After researching the Piping Plover, I began conversations with organizations that had stewardship programs in Canada. To my delight I found myself in Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, the longest freshwater beach in the world, doing field studies and volunteering as a Plover Guardian.
Wasaga Beach is one of the of the busiest weekend beaches near Toronto. People, garbage, gulls, crows and dogs all propose a threat to the Piping Plover and their chicks during breeding season. With only around 8000 Piping Plovers left in the world I was honoured to help out and record the hatching from two of the five protected nests.  But the real reward came from getting to know the dedicated volunteers who contribute to the survival of this species. These people are making a difference and the Plovers are coming back. Fourteen Piping Plover chicks from the five nests survived this season and have migrated to the wintering grounds.  These are paintings and observations from my time in the field. I donated most of my paintings and prints to help with the ongoing effort. You can purchase prints from the gift store at Nancy Island or from me directly.

"The Plover Guardian"©2016 Rose Tanner Oil on Linen 10 x 20 SOLD

Wastage Beach, in Ontario, is situated along the longest freshwater beach in the world.  The fourteen kilometres of freshwater beach is special indeed, it is also one of the busiest beaches in the area.  

The habitat where the first nest was laid on the beach nine years ago became protected allowing the natural vegetation to grow up around it.  In early spring when the beach is quiet the plovers find their nesting territory on Wasaga Beach and begin courtship.

The Piping Plover Guardian volunteers to record field data about the plovers, educate the public and keep the people/dogs away from the nesting area.  The challenge is to make people aware of the “Closed Area” signage but towards the evening the job of the Guardian becomes more difficult.  Park Rangers are needed to help keep people out of the Closed Fenced Area.

The Piping Plover is protected under the Canadian federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). The Plover nests in several national parks and historic sites where it is also protected by the Canada National Parks Act.

In addition, it is protected by the Federal Migratory Birds Convention Act. Under this Act, it is prohibited to kill, harm, or collect adults, young, and eggs.

The Piping Plover is also protected under the Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Manitoba, Ontario, Labrador, and Nova Scotia Endangered Species Acts and the Quebec Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species.  

The Piping Plover is also protected in the United States.   Find out more from the US Fish & Wildlife Service