Piping Plover. The adorable little bird with the annoyingly big controversy. Most folks know Holgate is closed completely during the Summer Nesting Season to protect the Piping Plover (PIPL) and all of the other Beach Nesting Birds that need the place, and others like it, to keep from being snuffed off the face of the Earth forever. They are the original Beach Bums. They inhabited this Island long before we did and, just like us, couldn’t live without it (except, unlike us, they actually couldn’t live without, meaning, they will all die forever).
But beyond the handful of PIPL that breed at Holgate in the Summer, Holgate is also an important migratory refuge for out-of-town PIPL. A place to rest and feed during their ultra-heroic and super-intense migration South. Piping Plover are endangered and threatened across their entire life cycle and on every leg of their journey. That’s why it was a big treat to find a small band of PIPL checking into the Holgate Hotel to wait out the brutal winds of the last few days. Hopefully we can show them a little LBI hospitality and do what we can to help them along.
Unfortunately, Plover love tire tracks as a place to rest in between feedings. If you sit with them for a bit, you’ll quickly see that the majority of their day is spent trying to nom nom a couple worms until someone walks right through them, oblivious to the adorable little endangered rarities all around them, at which point the PIPL run like mad up to the tire tracks to hide, until a vehicle comes barreling down at them, then they run back down, and repeat the cycle. Fortunately, they can relax at night (except for the fox, feral cats, falcons, and others that try to eat them all night long)
Holgate, and New Jersey in general, will probably be the nicest & safest digs these PIPL will see until they reach the Bahamas. Holgate could easily be the highlight of the trip for them thanks to it being a little off the beaten path, and to the generally enlightened views of the Islanders who value the beach for the awesome wonder that it is, and not just as a place to get drunk and spend money.
Most people know the Piping Plover as the annoying little bird that spoils all the fun for everyone. But those folks are encouraged to get to know them a little bit more. They are the smartest, funniest, most curious, and friendliest of all the shorebirds. They are huge characters and are 100% LBI treasure. If you walk Holgate, keep an eye out for them and do what you can to give them a little room. If you drive, keep your speed down and keep an eye on the beach. There are bound to be some PIPL in those tracks.