Yesterday I promised the kids I'd take them to the Port at Nanisivik to see if one of the Coast Guard ships was there (one had been seen off Victor Bay a couple of days ago). Despite it being an exceptionally dreary day in a summer dominated by dreary days, I made good on that promise, and off we went to the port. Low cloud and fog hung everywhere, and an all day drizzle had settled in, varying only in its intensity.
Our trip down to the port was fruitless, there was no Coast Guard ship there. There may very well have been one anchored offshore, but Strathcona Sound was so fogged in it was impossible to tell. We climbed back up to the former townsite and I thought I'd check out the plovers again, despite the children's waning interest in being in a vehicle. I drove once again down to the lakes, and a little further this time, deciding I could easily ford the ditch that blocked the road. But apart from two Long-tailed Ducks in a flyby the place seemed devoid of bird life. After several minutes of watching and listening in the drenching drizzle I gave up.
But as we were driving out, a plover dropped down out of the sky beside the truck. As I stopped I could see two downy baby plovers running along the shore of the lake. My god, these are hyperactive birds, never seeming to pause, and incredibly fast runners for their tiny size. I ignored the adults, calling and feigning injury and concentrated on one of the chicks. I had already lost sight of the other chick. Trapped between me and the water I quickly took several shots and then backed away as to minimize my disturbance of them.
Despite the adult's constant movements I managed a couple of photos of one by dropping down below eyesight of a small knoll and letting them come to me. Again, to my eye, these seemed to be more characteristic of Semipalmated Plovers, although I couldn't distinguish the white above the gape very well this go around.
I left them in the drizzle, wiped down the camera and turned on the heat in the truck, as we headed back to Arctic Bay. At home I again poured over the photos, these are the best.
A sodden chick pauses while crossing shallow water.
Another chick pic.
While not a great, sharp photo of one of the adults, this does give a bit of an idea of how crummy the weather was.
Finally after examining and reexamining the photos I eventually decided the birds were indeed Semipalmated Plovers. The clincher was this photo of the chick.
If you look at the detail you can see why, for there, between the inner and middle toe of the right foot is webbing. That webbing would be absent in a Common Ringed Plover. I'd appreciate any thoughts on this id from anyone out there.