Dave Moody and I did our monthly Snowy Plover survey in mid-December and had 35 individuals. Our survey
area stretches from the Manhattan Beach Pier to King Harbor. As a rule, the majority of the birds congregate
half-way between the Manhattan Pier and the Hermosa Pier. At the time of this survey, all the birds actively
feeding and were pretty well spread out. The first birds we observed were on the “rack line,” at 5th Street. As
usual, the greatest concentration of birds was found about half way between the piers.
The rack line is the area of debris both natural (kelp) and man-made that is left by the tide. This is an
important source of food for the plovers. Unfortunately, humans like clean beaches and almost daily the rack
line is groomed with machinery.
The plovers will be present on L.A. County beaches until April. During April, they will begin migrating to more
suitable nesting locales and begin migrating back to our beaches in August, after the breeding season. It is
hoped that within the near future Snowy Plovers will resume breeding on L.A. County beaches as they did
historically. The lack of adequate nesting habitat is the main reason they migrate to other locales for nesting.
A portion of Dockweiler beach is scheduled to become off-limits to both humans and grooming machinery in
the near future with hopes that natural vegetation like primrose and verbena can be restored, creating habitat
conducive for plover nesting. Attempts to establish nesting habitat for Least Terns has been rather successful
along Orange County beaches and on Santa Monica Beach and it is hoped this will be the case with Snowy
Besides re-creating nesting habitat on Dockweiler, plans are being made to educate the beach-going public
about the plovers. Volunteers from PV/SB, Santa Monica, and Los Angeles Audubon will help by distributing
informational leaflets regarding the plovers and answer questions beachgoers may have.
None of yesterday’s birds were banded so we have no idea where they hatched. In past years, we’ve had
birds in our survey area that were hatched and banded in the Nipomo Dunes/Santa Maria River mouth area.
One bird at Zuma a few years ago was banded out on San Nicholas Island.
Our survey is conducted once a month by David Moody, Tommye Hite, and Ron Melin August through May. We
welcome anyone who wishes to join us. Email David Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ron Melin at
email@example.com if you’re interested in participating.
Snowy Plover Project
|Snowy Plover Survey:
December 2008 Status by Ron Melin
|Palos Verdes / South Bay Audubon Society