I promised myself I would not get my hopes up, but it’s too late.
Two days ago, I found the first Least Tern nest in Plover Park. Not just the first in the Park, but the first in Barnegat Light in a long, long time. So long, someone will have to look it up to find out how long. That’s how long. I didn’t want to let myself believe it was true, yet there it was right in front of me. Emotional regulation and self-control be damned. This egg is a reason to celebrate, even if nothing comes of it.
But it looks like something is coming from it.
All week we’ve had two or three pairs hanging around the speaker system, but all of a sudden, there are maybe a dozen or more pairs actively scraping out little nests on the ground. And I can hear even more LETE squawking over the inlet. I swear I can see them arriving from every direction.
It’s like that first egg sent up the Bat-Signal. It lit up the sky and called all of the Least Terns in a hundred-mile radius straight to Plover Park. Like a hive mind.
I have no idea how big this colony of Least Terns could get, but there is a lot of vacancy at Plover Park.
Habitat loss along the coast is obvious. But what’s happening at Plover Park right now proves so clearly what a problem it’s been for our local animals. Our native beach-nesting birds suffer so much because we took all of their beaches and forgot to leave them anything. You open up just the tiniest bit of room for them, and they come from every direction seeking shelter and relief. It’s astonishing!
You have to love Todd Pover. He did this. Watching this unfold makes you both hate and love people; hate them for being so ignorantly selfish and short-sighted, and love them for recognizing it and doing something about it. Todd gave us the most elegant gift of new life simply by giving us back just a little of what we already had.
There is no going back now. The dream I didn’t even dare to dream is taking place right in front of my eyes. I’m powerless not to enjoy it and dream bigger. I’m ready to dream that Barnegat Light, even if it is just a tiny corner of it, handcrafted by Todd, might be returned to its original, natural, magnificent splendor for us to enjoy.
Welcome home, LETE. I’m a believer.