The oldest plover in the Great Lakes population has returned to his South Carolina winter home. His mate from 2014 and 2015, Of,GL:X,Y, was the subject of a previous post on May 22.
This fellow known as BO:X,g (for the pattern of band colors on his legs) in Michigan and Old Man Plover in South Carolina, hatched way back in 2002 at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. He has been nesting near his hatch site since 2005. He currently holds the record for the oldest male ever known in the Great Lakes population. Two females have tied with him at 14 years. In addition he also usually wins the race to return to his nesting territory, or ties with another male. In spring of 2016 he returned on April 13, as did “Packer Boy” who nests at Manistee, MI.
I feel quite attached to him. We’ve been part of the Great Lakes Piping Plover program for nearly the same length of time. (I started in 2004) The first nest I found in my first year of nest searching was his first nest. I’ve watched him successfully raise and fledge 36 chicks over the years…he seldom has lost any.
At the end of each summer he wings his way south to South Carolina where a different set of plover monitors wait for him. This fall was his 15th trip south! We don’t know exactly what route he takes, but if he flew directly from his summer territory at Sleeping Bear Dunes to his winter territory near Charleston, SC and back, he would have migrated 25,752 miles so far. (The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles)
I hope to see him back up at Sleeping Bear Dunes again next April.
David McLean in South Carolina has made a post about Old Man Plover’s return at http://birdingbulls.blogspot.com
Alice Van Zoeren – Summer Plover monitor, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore; University of Minnesota Non-breeding sightings coordinator for Great Lakes Piping Plovers