The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey & The NJ Department of Endangered & Nongame Species sure are lucky to have ex-Navy man Alf Breed on their Beach Nesting Bird team. You might think you shouldn’t need a boat and an experienced captain to find our local animals that are supposed to be nesting on our Beaches. But you do.
Our four species of local Beach Birds (The Black Skimmer, The Piping Plover, The American Oystercatcher, and the Least Tern) have been all but kicked off our Island in our continuing quest to turn our delicate and impermanent little pile of sand into a throughly paved, well-fortressed, eternal Summertime playground. But the Beach Nesters love it here perhaps more than we do, so they absolutely refuse to quit. They called this Island home long before we started coming here, long before we decided that wearing bathing suits was compatible with “prudence”, and long before we finally developed enough poison to kill the mosquitoes that kept us off the Island in the first place.
If they don’t scratch out some kind of home somewhere among us, their whole species are doomed. So like most Islanders dealt devastating blows, our local Beach Nesting Birds don’t yak and complain; they get tough, and they get creative. They unite. They Rebuild.
While the Skimmers & the AMOY seem to be making a decent go of it in the Bay, the Piping Plover & Least Terns are a little more fussy about their Oceanfront views. Like many Islanders, you’ve got your Bay lovers and your Ocean lovers. Skimmers & AMOY seem very well adapted to Bayside living, though you’ll mostly see them choosing nesting spots on Islands with tiny little sand beaches that feel more like home. For the PIPL & the LETE there is a chance that if we added a little extra sand around these Islands, much like we are doing to our own, they just might find them to be acceptable Summer rentals. The problem there is that the moment we starting adding sandy Beaches to our marsh Islands, every boat in the Bay will start landing there and the humans will outnumber the green head flies found there in no time.
Thinking outside the box, maybe we should build ourselves a new Island about a mile out. Since we go through such tremendous lengths & expense to engineer this wild and shifting piece of sand into something more reliable & stable, perhaps our time and money is better spent starting from scratch. We could build exactly what we want, and what we leave behind would soon become the spookiest and most magnificent wilderness on the planet.
Whatever the case, it is a thrill to know that our local animals are dealing with the devastating blows dealt to them by humans in the exact same way that local humans dealt with the devastating blows dealt to us by Mother Nature…. by refusing to give up, and rebuilding. While we appear on the surface to be at odds most of the time, local humans and local animals have a lot more in common than we sometimes assume. At a bare minimum, we both believe it is “LBI, or Die!”