Cloudy skies couldn't keep us away from the possibility of seeing newly hatched chicks from the Piping Plovers, Least Terns and American Oystercatchers enjoying the fenced off sanctuary of the Arverne Piping Plover Nesting Area.
Upon arrival, we spotted new pal Scott the Plover Steward and his colleagues who showed off the Red-eared Slider turtle they saved from imminent dehydration and death in the salty waters. A freshwater species (but not a native one to our area) and popular pet, these turtles are often found abandoned in wild areas when their owners lose interest. But this girl was lucky to have found some friends.
Scott, et al informed us that the more western-nesting shorebird eggs in the area have hatched, but the nests in our eastern direction have not. Off to investigate!
Walking along the sand and the protective fence, we made it about 10 blocks to the Least Tern nesting area. What a cacophony! Terns are generally chatty birds, but they were particularly so as the Least and another unidentified tern species (Common? Forster's?) chased each other. They switched their attention to us as we walked closer.
Though they flew low around us, it became clear that retreat was imminent whenI was dive-bombed by one, coming so low that I jumped! Mitch found it a rather funny sight -- the bird didn't exactly scare me but the potential of being defecated or vomited on (a common tern defense) was not something I wanted to experience.
Disappointed to miss the chicks, we focused attention on the nearby nests and received a great treat -- a Piping Plover soap opera! These little birds are so cute and cuddly but they are not timid amongst themselves when territory boundaries are being questioned. A single bird flew in close to one of the enclosed nests, bringing out both mom and dad to offer up some ruffled feathers, stand-offs, and running. To top off the visit, this was my first time to hear the soft, clear, bell-like call of the plovers.
What a joy this preserve is....here we are, in New York City, watching endangered species! Keep posted for an update -- you can bet we'll be visiting Arverne again soon!