Those in charge of coastal-bird conservation at the National Seashore on Cape Cod seem to be doing a good job, because, walking along the shore near Race Point (well away from the area roped off for nesting), I saw a number of least terns and piping plovers, both species that are endangered due to habitat and nesting-site loss/degradation. Populations of these birds nest along the coast of the Cape, and every year areas of the National Seashore are set aside for them to settle in undisturbed. I’ve been lucky enough to see both species before on the Cape, but I’ve never seen what I saw this year: piping plover chicks, which look like the ball-of-fluff chick toys they put in Easter baskets, except with extraordinarily long legs (I think it’s possible that the young are born with full-size legs and just grow into them).
They need these long legs, though, because both the young and the adults spend a lot of their time running: from the tide, from predators, and from (I hope only incidentally) my zoom lens. Here are some examples of what I mean:
It was a real gift to see these birds. Given the horrible distress that so many seabirds in the Gulf are in right now as a result of the oil spill, it was a joy to see these birds looking healthy and well and producing (adorable) young. It doesn’t make up for, or even offset, the disaster in the Gulf, but it’s a great pleasure nonetheless.