It was the best of names, it was the worst of names.
I suppose it doesn’t matter because we are stuck with it, but Todd Pover’s Plover Park is actually a terrible name for the habitat restoration area in Barnegat Light State Park. For two reasons.
Firstly, because it fails to properly credit the stern genius Brooke Maslo of Rutgers who was totally instrumental to its success and a great partner to Mr. Pover while creating it.
Second, because it fails to credit the three other local species of beach nesting birds who need it just about as badly as the piping plovers do. The truth is, Todd Pover’s Plover Park is not just for plovers. It’s for all the animals who need to nest on the beach. When the vision is fulfilled and the dream becomes reality, that small little section of Long Beach Island should be absolutely lousy with all of the beach nesting babies who once ruled this Island with adorable abandon: piping plovers, American oystercatchers, least terns, and black skimmers.
The first eggs of the 2021 season of Plover Park (Season III) hatched today in Todd Pover’s Plover Park. And they weren’t Myrtle’s, Tatiana’s, or Jennifer Jason Leigh’s.They weren’t even piping plover eggs at all.
They were oystercatcher eggs. And not just any old pair’s eggs, but our pair’s. Barnegat Light’s local pair, banded J22 and J23, pulled off the impossible and actually hatched two eggs, with a third probably hatching as I type this.
I feel terrible they don’t have trading cards. But truth be told, it was superstition and juju which held me back from even mentioning them.
Any longtime Reader or even casual observer of life in Barnegat Light State Park knows that oystercatchers nesting there suffer little but tragedy. Hopefully (or not!) you remember the many stories of the late T2 and his many failures told here. I think these are only the second set of oystercatcher chicks I’ve seen hatch in a decade. I don’t use the word “miracle” lightly. I know a lot of happy feels and cheerful tears were flowing today because this news.
Thanks to everyone who didn’t jinx it.
T2 would be proud. Proud of J22 & J23, and proud of Todd & Brooke for fixing this huge problem with such an elegant solution: cut back a little bit of a predator infested dune, use some engineering smarts, and return a tiny corner of the Island to what it once was to help keep a few of our really fascinating local animals around and let them live in peace along side of us.
Every AMOY baby born in Plover Park owes T2 a tribute. Because I’m sure the existence of the inappropriately named Todd Pover’s Plover Park was born partly of watching his many failures until no one could take it anymore and something really bold & clever was finally done about it.
And so the season is really off and running now. Now the hard part begins for this family. If you visit Barnegat Light State Park you might actually catch a glimpse of J22 or J23 furiously gathering food along the water and frantically flying back to their safe space inside the restoration area. Be sure to give them plenty of space and a quiet thumbs up.
This ain’t going to be easy. Because there is never a dull moment in Todd Pover’s Plover Park. That’s for sure!