I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tiny Survivors

Hi, everyone! Today we are having what we call a dry storm or clear storm here at the beach.

Gorgeous if chilly day, high winds at 40MPH plus.

But last week we had a classic coastal nor'easter. It blew in hard with torrential rain and very high tides and beach flooding because of the new moon. Hard to imagine the moon phases can affect modern life, but here on the ocean's edge, the tides do matter.

Especially if you're a teeny tiny endangered bird!

You all know how I fuss and worry about my beach birds. Many have been coming and nesting in the same spot for years.

So there I stood, in the dark windy night on my deck, with my binoculars watching the the surf roll closer and closer to the piping plovers' nests.

In the dark the white foam is very visible, especially as it rolls up the usually dry sand beach.

 Imagine if you're a tiny bird, no bigger than a sparrow. You've flown countless thousands of miles to your traditional, instinctive. exact same always! nesting spot here on the beach. (The nests are always within a few feet of the previous years.)

You've scooped out a small indentation in the sand..maybe near a clam shell, or a tuft of seagrass...but essentially your nest is on the open exposed shore.
You lay your eggs.

Your mate stands watch and sometimes even sits on the eggs while you grab a bite to eat [sound familiar?]. All is well until one very dark night the wind begins to howl. Rain pours down on your unprotected tiny body. The night is cold, and loud, and frightening. You tuck your babies' eggs under your belly...


And then the surf rolls in.

The waves come closer, closer, closer...your tiny brave heart pounds with fear but you stay. And stay. And hope your babies will survive.

After the storm...one nest: here, is abandoned, the waves washed over it as I watched that night.

These two nests....

 ..and this one further to the west, though the waves came within inches, have survived.

A miracle, despite the sadness of losing one nest...Courage. And instinct.

Below, a huge wind blown-in flock of sanderlings, a type of sandpiper. They are unharmed by our storms...they nest in the furthest arctic, above Alaska. This is just a brief stop on their journey home.


..............gone to the beach