I was able to get down to Montrose yesterday to see the little piping plover babies, very cute and healthy! Running very fast around their protected space, carefully guarded and occasionally warmed by one or both of their parents. The killdeer is also sitting on a nest which appears to be made of little stones in the sand, very cool, my first killdeer nest!
I was looking for other birds when I saw an adult piping plover who didn't appear to be in breeding plumage wandering the inland water's edge. Immediately I could see that it had only one leg! Observing for a while, to be sure the leg wasn't tucked, though I have never seen any species of plovers do that, I finally observed it use what was left of that limb to scratch itself. It has lost the lower 1/3 or more of the left leg. I wasn't sure if it was one of our nesting adults as it stayed alone that I saw and didn't seem to communicate with any other birds. I was able to get photos to find its banding information and sent it off to Vince C. with the plover team for the Great Lakes Piping Plovers. He got back to me and said this bird is a male who nested up in Sleeping Bear Dunes Park in MI.
I only saw one other adult piping plover yesterday that I know of. Most likely the other of the pair was wandering the dunes which are completely inaccessible to humans for now, including the shoreline, FYI for any shorebird seekers.
What I found most wonderful was that the newly protected area of the beach is where all of the gulls in the area chose to stay and rest with their multitudes of grey-hued young (all ring-billed I believe while I was there). I would like the park district/whomever to consider expanding the protected area to permanently include this small extra area of beach to provide additional habitat to the many shorebirds who need it for nesting, resting, and feeding. Look what happened in such a short time, not only do we have nesting bank swallows and piping plovers, but also a nesting killdeer and many gulls, least sandpipers, spotted sandpipers, and possibly more using that area in just a couple of hours time that I saw. Something to consider.