Mustache BYLL Lives

Mustache BYLL, The World’s Most Interesting Plover, Lives

We interrupt this seemingly endless stream of Beach Owl photos to bring you some important news.

Barnegat Light’s legendary PIPL, “The World’s Most Interesting Plover,” Mustache BYLL, was spotted yesterday near the Joulter Cays in the Bahamas.

I imagine a researcher looking for Piping Plover on their wintering grounds caught a glimpse of Mustache BYLL and wondered “Hey, what is Adrian Brody doing down here on an uninhabited island?” Then, looking more closely, noticed that unique combination of color bands which spell his name: B (blue), Y (yellow), L (black), and L (black).

BYLL. Which sadly looks more like LLBY in this pic. Sorry. You get the point.

Obviously this is thrilling. But it also brings back a flood of difficult memories from last summer when poor BYLL and his beloved Myrtle had a rough go of it out on the front beaches of LBI.

If you remember, BYLL’s eggs were flooded and buried multiple times in the spring yet miraculously, three out of four of them survived to hatch. Then there was the night I found BYLL absolutely catatonic after a storm, so threw sticks at him, and when he didn’t move, I reported him as dead. Michelle Stantial drove two hours in a panic only to find BYLL running around the beach acting like a crazy bird. Not sure what happened there but I maintain: that bird was not even breathing!

BYLL doesn’t run away after his banding… he walks away slowly like an action hero from an explosion.

Things seemed to be looking up when BYLL and Myrtle finally hatched three beautiful babies. But I suppose some things were meant to remain buried.

The Breakfast Bunch. Cinnamon Bun, Cyclops, and Flapjack on their first morning.

The first chick “Cinnamon Bun” was lost quickly. When the second, Lil’ Cyclops, was lost, my heart was broken. Cyclops was the coolest, and fastest, PIPL chick I’ve ever known.

Cyclops. I miss you buddy.
Cyclops was wearing a wire but even the most thorough search of Barnegat Light failed to lead us to him.
That leaves little Flapjack.

We can suppose that BYLL & Myrtle were just too traumatized by their losses. They never really recovered. Even with only one chick left to care for, they were a total disaster. Nervous and stressed, they lived in a constant state of panic on a busy public beach. It got to the point where I did not even want to check up on them. They were just too panicked, too sad, too crazy. It was tough to watch.

Then came the day we found Flapjack, the sole survivor, limping around in pain. Turns out he was all tangled up in human hair of all things.

Nicole Kirkos expertly removes the tangle of human hair from Flapjack’s foot. I will never forget this moment. Nicole was so calm, so cool, so steady. That hair was TIGHT. And there were some old people yelling at her to leave the plovers alone the whole time she was working.

Flapjack would survive, but would hobble feebly around the beach for the rest of the summer with a nervous and exhausted BYLL always by his side.

Flapjack would actually make it to his fledge day and is officially counted as a survivor, and a bird grown. But I don’t think he ever made it out of Barnegat Light and perished sometime just after his fledge day. Hopefully a sighting in the future will prove that theory wrong.

Despite his rough summer, BYLL apparently soldiers on. So will he return to us in the spring and give it another go at Barnegat Light after recharging his itty-bitty batteries down in the Bahamas?

BYLL. Moustached Rogue…. Daddy Extraordinaire.

We shall see.

Godspeed BYLL!