The Surprise On The Other Side Of The Dune

The Orange Flags Of The Wild-Lifeguards
The Orange Flags Of The Wild-Lifeguards

There is nothing like that first walk to the beach after arriving on the Island after some time away.  Climbing the shallow hill of the dune you can venture a guess, based on the sky laid out in front of you, of what the beach may look like.  But that blank canvas of wind, water, sand, and sky is painted differently each season, each day, each hour. Variables too dynamic to comprehend are converging to create the one-of-a-kind beach for that special moment called “now”. Some may please you or disappoint you slightly more than some others, but you know that some vista of amazing pleasure is only seconds away. You just don’t know the details. High tide? Low tide? Monster surf? Dead Batman?

As cool as desolate, naked winter Beaches can be there is nothing quite like that first Summer Day when you see trash cans on the Beach for the first time in months. Even better: the day the familiar tall chairs and orange flags of the Beach Patrol come into view for the first time in 3 seasons. Suddenly the Beach has a focal point, a center of power, a place to converge, and a bunch of fit, young people to save you in the event you exercise some poor judgement. Nothing says Summer like those little orange flags.

Well, for anyone visiting Barnegat Light State Park, get ready for such an experience. The Summer Nesting Season is on and just yesterday the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ dolled the place up with a few understated fences and delicate orange flags to protect this season’s itty-bitty Beach Nesting Birds. While there are still a few grumps out there who embarrass themselves by whining about these adorable fences, for most of us they smell like Summer and remind us of both the cool endangered species that make the Island that much more awesome, and the good people who do things like put up those fences to make sure Barnegat Light remains the slightly-wild paradise and getaway that it is.

The Gift
Wildlife Selfie: The Gift

There are only a handful of really memorable days when you first climb over that dune to see something really spectacular: maybe a beached Seal, a breaching Whale, or a really snazzy pair of Speedo swim trunks with an American Flag design. Today was such a day when I discovered this wickedly adorbz little sign left for us as a gift from the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. While the poor, hard working heroes who protect our wildlife often have to say “NO NO NO!” to us, (no walking here, no driving there, no having fun in this particular, small area) what they really want their work to say to us is “YES YES YES!” (yes our wildlife is amazing, yes you should enjoy it, yes you should value it)

This awesome new sign says just that. Pros call it an “interpretive sign” because it allows us to “interpret” how adorable Tufters the Piping Plover is. You can savor every detail of this masterpiece of interpretive signage, from the adorable baby photo of Little Tufters, or the even more adorable custom art work created by some NJ 4th Graders. This epic work of Beach Art is  the brainchild of Todd Pover, the Beach Nesting Bird Director for NJ and puts the focus where it should be: on the fact that our wildlife is something fascinating and fun, and not something that keeps us from having fun.

So next time you’re at Barnegat Light, stop by and take your very own Plover Power Selfie at the sign. And check out the fences with little orange flags. Just like the little orange flags of your local Lifeguard, these are the little orange flags of your Wildlifeguards. Both are there to keep everything safe, keep everything fun, and stop anything from dying needlessly and spoiling anyone’s vacation.

T2 asks, "Hey Mr. Pover, Why not 'Oystercatcher Power'?"
T2 stares at the new sign, apparently reads it, and asks, “Hey Mr. Pover, Whyz not ‘Oyztercatcher Power’?”
T2 scraping a nest this morning, safe behind his little orange-flagged fence
T2 scraping a nest with his mate this morning, safe behind his little orange-flagged fence
And just in case you don't believe me that is actually T2 working on his scrape...
Iz not tired anymoar!” And just in case you don’t believe me that is actually the real, world-famous T2 working on his scrape…
And wait... what's that behind the orange fence.... that little thing over in the shells... NO... wait... could that be???.....
And wait… what’s that behind the orange fence…. that little thing over in the shells… NO… wait… could it… could that be???….. I mean… he’s not too tall… he is a little bit small….