Welcome to the neighborhood, babies.
For those of you who watched Giantsbane and Myrtle’s nest hatch live from Todd Pover’s Plover Park on The Little Egg Cam, I thought you’d like to see the adorable chicks up close. Admittedly it’s a terrible photo.
Shortly after the hatch, the dream team of Kashi Davis & Emily Heiser from NJ Fish & Wildlife hit the park to give the new chicks a proper welcome including a checkup and a banding. Coincidentally, this special day was also the six year anniversary of the very first piping plover chick banding in New Jersey; back when our same Emily Heiser joined the not-then-but-now-Dr. Michelle Stantial at Barnegat Light State Park to band some of Tufters & Tacey’s babies. Some of you might remember this historic occasion.
I am so grateful that Kashi & Emily remain committed to continuing Dr. Michelle’s work at Plover Park. They simply don’t have the time and resources to band as much as Michelle did for her research, so they have to choose their locations wisely. And they wisely choo-choo-choosed Todd Pover’s Plover Park!
This is an excellent development for a number of reasons. First, because Barnegat Light is awesome and Readings From The Northside has long proclaimed and maintained that it is destined to become the heart of the recovery of endangered beach nesting birds, the most important nesting site in the universe, and the place where we finally learn how to share to the beach.
But also, not only is Barnegat Light where it all started, but it also the place which proved beyond any doubt that undisturbed access to quality foraging habitat during the first few weeks of life (i.e. the ability for babies to eat worms nonstop) is the single most important factor in their long term survival and hence the recovery of the species. And this is the precise problem that Todd Pover’s Plover Park solves.
With hindsight, it was clearly unbelievably synchronous that Todd Pover created his glorious Park right in the middle of Dr. Michelle’s research and so we got to watch, with our very own eyes, as Barnegat Light was almost magically transformed from a place that barely made any babies at all, and they were so run-down and sickly that we never saw any of them again, to a place that makes tons of big, fat, healthy babies who come back and breed here and make even more fat, healthy babies. It is absolutely astonishing and totally real. It is the recovery, in your face. You saw it all happen right here on the Readings. You can count it, and you need more and more fingers to do so, almost every week. And it is only just getting started.
Our adults are surviving and returning to make more babies. Our babies are surviving and returning to make more babies. And their babies are going to return and make more babies and more grandbabies. And when we think about the babies, and the babies’ babies, and the babies’ babies’ babies, we have to wonder, when will it stop? Hopefully never! Whatever the case may be, we continue to have the opportunity to know the fates of these animals thanks to Kashi & Emily continuing to band in Barnegat Light.
Kashi, Todd, Emily, Michelle…. thank you. I know what you’ve done because I watched you do it for six years. And I have the pictures to prove it.
Welcome to the neighborhood King Friday XIII, The Chief of Discipline, Princess Margaret H. Witch, and The World’s Smallest Talking Zebra. We wish you much success packing on the grams as you forage for worms in Todd Pover’s Plover Park and race towards your official fledge day of June 17th, 2021. You are the six-year banding anniversary babies. We expect great things from you.