Boy. Nothing throws a wet blanket on our Springtime fun like scientists. In this case we are talking specifically about the great scientists Michelle Stantial & Emily Heiser. While the value of their work and the appreciation we should have for all they do for our animals can’t really be overstated, they sure have ruined our favorite Springtime Parlor Game: identifying Tufters.
You see, before they dolled him up with his handsome little leg bands last spring, we had to spend days rolling around in the sand, taking hundreds of photos, studying them furiously, blowing them up on computer, scouring them for details, comparing them with previous years’ photos, and eventually giving up and just saying “It’s dolphinately Tufters!” anyway.
But now anyone can know for certain with a single glance that Tufters, The Lord Of Light, has indeed returned to Lord over Barnegat Light State Park simply by looking for his flashy Green, Yellow, Red, and Orange bands. I think I even saw a baby in a diaper out there pointing at Tufters and yelling “Ta ta!” (That’s infant for “Tufters!”)
Still, it does take a little patience. Tufters apparently got his hair done this winter, and his fluffy coat can easily hide those itty-bitty bands, especially when he is loafing around the beach. Often you’ll just see his lower bands (Yellow on the left, Orange on the right) peaking out below his belly. It helps if you catch him creeping around the habitat as more of his itty-bitty legs are exposed when he does his adorable little slinky-dink walk.
But the game is not over. Now comes the real fun: watching to see if Tacey comes home. She would be insane not to come back and join the Tufters, the Lord of The Lighthouse, the Plover who choses to live among us and share the beach, for another season. But Tacey was a little uptight last Summer as you might remember, and had trouble dealing with Tufters’ mad, laid back style, and the many miracles that took place.
Tracey’s bands are Green, Yellow, Red, and White (Yellow on the lower left, White on the lower right).
Will she come home and take her rightful place as Queen of the Lighthouse? Or has she had enough of Tufters brave determination to live among us? Whatever the case, Godspeed Tacey!