Saturday, August 26, 2017

RBA: PIPING PLOVER in Delta - August 24-25th

At 8 pm on August 24-2017, Doug Martin found a Piping Plover at the foot of 96th St at Boundary Bay in Delta. He showed the bird to Michael Klotz who was present on the dyke and he also got good looks at the bird. He immediately thought it looked like a Piping Plover. Doug noted that the bird was pale sandy brown in colour, had orange legs and what appeared to be a complete neckband and looked different in shape and colour to the Semipalmated Plovers it was associating with. The light was poor and he was only able to get a digiscoped shot through his scope, that he admitted was poor. He reported the bird to me but although suggestive of a Piping Plover due to shape, posture, neckband and leg colour;  I could not rule out a Leucistic Semipalmated Plover based on the photographs I was presented. Not to mention John Gordon had photographed a Leucistic Semipalmated Plover in the same area a few days prior. I did in fact show John's photograph of the Leucistic Semipalmated Plover (which you can see HERE) to Doug Martin and Michael Klotz but they both were adamant that this was not the same bird. I decided, therefore to post it last night as a "Possible Piping Plover."

On the evening of August 25th, out-of-town birder Jennifer Wu was out looking for the reported Plover, Hudsonian and Bar-tailed Godwits. As she was walking back from 88th St to the parking lot at 72nd St, she noted a small bird with bright orange legs running along the edge of the water. She walked off the dyke onto the mudflats to get a closer look but at a safe distance, as to not spook the bird. She noted it was different than the Semipalmated Plovers she had seen before. The bird was foraging completely alone. She checked field guides and realized she had actually seen a Piping Plover, she reported the bird to me when she got home and sent in her photos.

This photo confirms that the bird Doug Martin found was indeed a Piping Plover.

This is the first confirmed record for the Province of British Columbia. All 2 previous records have been sight records only.  

**As per the BC Bird Records Committee a first provincial record must be documented with physical proof (ie. a photo). ***

*Despite multiple observers looking the bird has not been seen since.*

On August 27th Jennifer sent in new photos after taking time to go through them all upon her return home. I have posted the best of the lot which shows the identification features more clearly further confirming the ID.

Peter Pyle author of "Identification Guide to North American Birds", David Sibley author of "The Sibley Guides"  and Kevin Karlson and Michael O'Brien authors of "The Shorebird Guide" have also confirmed the ID of Piping Plover.

If you are going to look for this bird please note that parking on the dyke at 96th St is illegal and the Park Patrol is enforcing this by handing out tickets. There are two public parking lots, one at the end of 72nd St and one at the end of 104th St.

Maps to both parking lots below:

72nd St

104th St

Map to where the bird was seen the first day HERE

Map to where the bird was seen the second day HERE

Piping Plover in Delta- Photo: Jennifer Wu

The first confirmed Piping Plover in BC at Boundary Bay, Delta - Photo: Jennifer Wu
Piping Plover in Delta - Photo: Jennifer Wu

A Piping Plover in Delta - Photo: Doug Martin


  1. I believe I saw a Piping Plover on the beach in Point Roberts this afternoon. Googled piping plover vancouver and found your blog.

    1. Hi please email me a photo email address provided at the top of the page cheers

    2. We had no gadgets on us so no photos unfortunately, but I did more research last night, and turns out I was wrong, it was a Snowy Plover not a Piping Plover after all. Sorry for the false alarm!

    3. Thanks a snowy plover would be extremely rare what you probably saw was a semipalmated plover but even that is rare in the winter. Perhaps you saw a killdeer or Dunlin but it's doubtful you would have seen a snowy plover here.

    4. It looked exactly like this guy: It was almost completely white/light grey and had a longer beak than a piping plover. We just looked up a Dunlin and a Killdeer to make sure we remember them right, and they don't look quite like the guy we saw. Guess it mIght be a Semipalmated, just a very light coloured one.

    5. Very cool! I wish we had a photo to confirm your snowy plover. We have had them in the province before. If you can go back and get a photo would be great.

    6. Yep will be sure to have a camera with me from now on. We only go there for parcels a couple of time a month but we always drive by Lighthouse beach park when we do.