MEARS, Mich. -- The weekend of October 10-11 brought us to western Michigan for filming on piping plover breeding grounds, specifically the locations where Monty and Rose hatched in 2017. We gained enormous insight into the life cycle of Great Lakes piping plovers while there, but it was the towering sand dunes of Silver Lake State Park that left the biggest impression on us. These dunes are vast and a sort of mini-Sleeping Bear Dunes, about halfway south along the mitten, between Ludington and Muskegon.
Sarina Haasken of the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Project kindly joined us and showed us around the majestic landscape. We trekked to a high point on the dunes, between Lake Michigan and Silver Lake itself, which is ringed by open sands and forested inclines. While we were there, we were astonished to find two piping plover eggs from the previous nesting season. The eggs were from an early clutch belonging to YOGi and BYL, and dated to June, according to Sarina, who carefully recovered them. They were found in an expanse surrounded by acres and acres of sand in every direction.
From there, we traveled to Muskegon State Park, which was a true pleasure as well. Plover monitors Carol Cooper and Heather Sellon showed us where piping plovers have nested near the beach house there. For us, this was a more conventional setting for piping plover nesting, as it had some resemblance to Montrose Beach in Chicago.
In addition to these sites, we visited Ludington State Park and met local birders Dave Dister and Joe Moloney, who gave us some of the history of piping plovers in Mason County. It was wonderful to meet birders on the other side of Lake Michigan and share the story of Monty and Rose with them.
We are thrilled with the video we captured on this trip and look forward to sharing it when the time comes to complete "Monty and Rose II."