Not every bird warrants a beach fight but Kentish plovers, adorable fluffballs, are fragile shorebirds that are endangered and certainly deserve some effort. A month ago after Covid19 lockdown relaxed in France, I went for a walk on the beach with my dad to collect some floated bamboo sticks and stumbled upon two people watching a protected beach area. We got into a discussion. They were guarding a nesting site forKentish plovers(Charadrius alexandrinus)andlittle terns(Sternula albifrons), both on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. A month later, I’m reporting from the trenches as an avid advocate of fluffballs & more.

Kentish Plovers 101

I first heard about plovers in California when some coastal areas were being closed off in San Francisco during snowy plover nesting season. (Snowy plovers are North America’s cousins to Kentish plovers.) Initially, I didn’t get it. Why would any birds be bothered by humans? Why couldn’t we enjoy the beach at Crissy Field as usual? I’ll admit I was slightly miffed and chose to visit other beaches open to the public but I still didn’t get it.

In hindsight, all I needed was a little bit of education. Only 1,500 Kentish plovers grace French shores and they unfortunately play a lose-lose game.Weighing in at 40g / less than 2 oz, these birds have to rely on their breeding strategy not to go extinct. However their breeding season coincides with peak tourist season and their breeding ground coincides with prime tourist ground – sandy beaches. Breeding strategy fail.

Add to that the fact that their speckled eggs are perfectly camouflaged in shallow sand dips and you’ll realize that omelets are unavoidable when the species most needs protection — nesting time.


快速轨道锁定2020 Occitanie,当地媒体开始在受保护的鸟类区本地的我在哪里,沙丘成为关闭的限制,因为鸟类筑巢在店铺上设立创新和沙丘报告。有人可能会说,一切如常这些鸟,plopping自己倒在舒服点旁边的好觅食地培育下一代 - 除非他们不知道,人类是暂时庇护别的地方。同样的人最终会回到他们理想嵌套的计划将面临环保大决战 - 夏季旅游。

Busy with life, I don’t get involved with the local nonprofit right away although I do like their Facebook page right after I return from the beach with my dad. It takes a disaster to get me to act.

May 30, 2020

In the night of May 30 to 31st, 2020, five idiots decide to throw a two-wheeled rodeo in off limits beach areas. Mountain bikes follow in the same tracks that same night and cause further damage. The following morning, volunteers find several tern nests crushed or abandoned. There are only about 30 birds of each species to start with. This was not good.

Two phone calls to the Association Orpellières later, I show up for my first bird watch on a Wednesday evening after work.

Association Orpellières

你可能会认为低于50种鸟类濒临灭绝的鸟类物种的殖民地,与针对其繁殖堆叠如此之高的赔率,地方当局将千方百计地想把自己对待鸟儿像版税。当然,的Sérignan的城市将认识到惊人的养护机会,当地的公园护林员,沿海保护基金会(音乐学院du Littoral酒店),当地法甲去保护Des Oiseaux酒店(LPO - 法国奥杜邦或RSPB当量),连警察会帮助。

As in Hamilton the Musical, it would be nice, it would be nice, to have so many people by our side. But reality is a different animal.

每一个保护措施,以保护嵌套环颈鸻在该点背后的重型升降机是Association Orpellières,由扬Geshors和计数只有十几个志愿者活动为首的草根公民运动。层压迹象,DIY竹“篱笆”,公众意识运动,海滩巡逻,媒体宣传 - 通过协会Orpellières的成员自己的时间和资金全部完成。


La Grande Maïre

The nesting site at Sérignan-Plage is known as La Grande Maïre, part of coastal wetlands that host 14 distinct habitats, from samphire marshes further north to this brackish lagoon only a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean sea. Conveniently, La Grande Maïre is only 9km/5.5 miles from my dad’s house which made my decision to volunteer even easier.

On my first watch, Yann welcomes me on the parking lot. He’s been patrolling the beach the whole afternoon. While we wait for more volunteers, he explains all the threats Kentish plovers face. From dog walkers to trespassing humans, from seagulls to crows, from crab fishermen to bikers or ATV-heads, these birds certainly don’t lack for challenges to get the next generation off the ground. Yann shows me the perimeter and he turns a dogwalker around before he enters the beach.

Dogs & Kentish Plovers

Dogs are wonderful pets but they love bird chicks – as in, munch, munch, love. When not on leash, they also pose a threat to bird eggs as they can easily crush them. Fortunately, this beach is off limits to dogs since 2010. Yet, people still show up to walk their dogs when the next dog-friendly beach is 10 minutes away.


Wildlife at La Grande Maïre



Seagulls daring terns into frightening them.

Terns scaring the living daylights out of seagulls – before returning to nest on the sand.

是的 - 乱窜环颈鸻称誉。


Summer Solstice Sunrise

我回来三天later at dawn. Patrolling the beach for the summer solstice at sunrise is equally as appealing as scouting fluffballs but mostly, I am hoping that early morning is a good time for chicks. Like a Druid, a Watcher of the Old Ways and a Protector of the Bird Realm, I am waiting for something magical to happen.


I realize it’s not that rare an occurrence.

At the other end of the perimeter, we start head counts, which is really tough if you’ve ever tried to count running birds. They’re specialists in “now you see me, now you don’t”. Suddenly, Camille exclaims, “Poussins!”.

Binoculars to the rescue.

由于我的相机镜头的质量,你必须使用你的想象力在这一个。想象一下,三只娃小鸡在图片右侧的鸟的翅膀下避难。可爱的化身。正如预期的那样,真正的fluffballs。而这些小鸡是真正的自由精神 - 他们跑像无头鸡!(双关语不好,对不起。)

For a better idea of the cuteness overload, here’s a great shot of a Kentish plover chick published by鸟类of Bahrain

Summer solstice magic happened. Also we turn around a dozen dogs – the chicks live to scurry another day.

Northerly Winds Dawn

Two mornings later, I return at dawn with my friend César to check on the young’uns. Whipped by decent northerly winds, we spend the better part of an hour standing behind a fence, observing what look like baby terns. Not dissimilar to grey rocks, these chicks move a lot less than plover chicks and cozy up with adult terns. Very cute.

Up close, that’s what they might have looked like as photographed by theKilcoole Little Tern Conservation Project在爱尔兰。

Honestly, from afar, would you tell them apart from a rock? Meanwhile, Kentish plovers are busy scurrying away on the beach inches from terns but there is no mixing of species in terms of chick-care. Closer to the waterline, a large brood of four plover chicks delight in attempting to all fit under an adult plover’s warm belly at once before scattering to run together in a clump across the sand.


Police at Sunset

After work, I reach the beach at the same time as two members of the coastal police taskforce. Very cool moment. We trade intel on the chickies, they patrol the beach, they address members of the public and mention better conservation measures for 2021 onwards. I say, it’s very encouraging.

Even better, kids show up with their families after a beach day. As I scan the beach with my binoculars, I hear young voices behind me. “What are they doing?” “Why is there red tape?” “What kind of bird are they protecting?” It’s music to my ears. I jump on every opportunity to share details on the nesting birds, their endangered status, their nesting behaviors or how to protect them. Overwhelmingly, kids and their families are very supportive of the initiative and think it’s “cool.” Only one grumpy guy bemoans the fact he can’t access the lagoon to fish for crabs. Lovely encounter with a retired local on a wheelchair who shares his childhood stories about La Grande Maïre and the evolution of marine wildlife during his lifetime.


Summer is definitely here. At 7am, the day is already warm. Mornings at the beach are quiet, a few fishermen are set up by the shore — including a guy who cracks me up, indulging in more bathing than fishing. Nicole, another volunteer, turns away two dog owners but on the parking lot, we spot two stray dogs including this furry dog.



If we can keep up the effort until the chicks can fly away in a few weeks, I think that we’re doing something good.

How can you Help Kentish Plovers?

来访问,了解鸟类传播混乱betway经典老虎机age and help us! To find the nesting birds, walk northwest of Latino Beach, a beach restaurant, along the lagoon, opposite the campground.You can’t miss the cordoned off area.


  • 埃罗省宪兵– Dial free emergency number 17
  • 警方的Sérignanmunicipale33 6 10 47 09 12
  • 波尔蒂拉盖警方municipale33 6 09 37 69 30

Next time you head to the beach, keep an eye out for these lovely birds and don’t forget your binoculars. You’ll come back with a smile on your face.



Laure is an author, environmental advocate, blogger, open water swimmer and now mother. She's passionate about inspiring families to enjoy the outdoors with their children, learning to unplug and living a healthy lifestyle, giving kids life skills and exploring the world around us sharing Family Friendly, Fun Ideas for the whole family on Frog Mom.


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