This winter of 2016 marked the International Piping Plover Census in the Bahamas. We count ourselves lucky to have had our very own Todd Pover, Emily Heiser, and Michelle Stantial on the ground there, pretending to do the important work of uncovering just how many itty-bitties spend their winters on the islands of the Bahamas, but actually pursuing the more difficult task of finding Tufters for us.
Knowing that Tufters would most likely elude them, because winter is clearly “Tufters’ time”, Emily dutifully wore her FitBit (TM) to prove that it was not for lack of trying. Her final numbers for the two week trip where 229,940 steps over 97.3 miles, and the highest single day’s walk was over 13 miles. While I know many of you are thinking she should have taken 230,000 steps and walked 100 miles at least to find Tufters, I’m sure we can all agree that still represents a valiant effort.
But just as with many Islanders, where Tufters goes in the winter remains a mystery.
All is not lost though. For just as the entire Plover community was about to throw in the towel and abandon all hope they would ever find the King of all PIPL, the Lord of Light, Tufters, something extraordinary happened. They found his Queen, the lovely Tacey.
She is far from home, but she is safe. And as the warmth, duration, and brightness of the sun begin to grow in late February, we can be sure that she, just like us, is finding herself growing increasingly nostalgic for New Jersey and dreaming of another summer down the shore.
Will she come home to us? You might remember that Tufters & Tacey split on uncertain terms last year after the hard won success of their Miracle Brood. While we can be sure in our hearts that Tacey was Tufters’ mate the last few seasons, this year will be the first year we will know for certain if Tacey returns to LBI thanks to Tacey’s flashy new bands.
Whatever the case, Godspeed Tacey. Godspeed. You are truly the Queen of Miracles.