Armed Forces

Size Matters…

Size matters, but not always.

Every year for at least several, American Oystercatchers have chosen to lay their eggs right in the open spaces of our shores at Long beach, NY. They never tried to my knowledge, to find an out-of-sight recess nearby to nest, like under the boardwalk for instance. Always right in plain sight.

I, along with many others watched continuously as the mates took turns sitting on their eggs for the day of awakening from within the shells. The city of Long Beach’s Beach Maintenance placed a ring of cones and rods around the nest-site to protect them as best they could. Here, within the ring of rods is the “Changing of the Guard”: O C 1DSC_7259     OC2DSC_7263 OC 3DSC_7266 OC 4DSC_7267I wasn’t there when the chicks breathed their first salt air but I’m told the event occurred on May 19th. Upon the birth, the family left the circle of orange cones and ventured across the vulnerable plains of Long Beach. They nestled often in the tracks of Beach Maintenance trucks, some of which were windblown and shallow: OC 27DSC_8628But some tread impressions were so fresh and deep they were a real challenge to climb: OC 24DSC_8294 OC 7DSC_8220 OC 8DSC_8246 OC 9DSC_8254 OC 11DSC_8289Sometimes Mom took her offspring closer to the surf: OC 5DSC_7805 OC 6DSC_7831But always under her watchful gaze: OC 10DSC_8271 At times, when a perceived threat would appear, like a biped mammal with a huge 500mm Nikon nose…Mom would give a warning glare: OC 26DSC_8344 When that didn’t move the mammal quick enough, a more direct message was in order. Yes, eye to eye…message received.  The biped wisely backed off.OC 25DSC_8317 Sometimes a real threat would arise from other sea birds, like gulls seeking a morning morsel of chick. But they were chased off by both Mom and Dad in a joint air attack. The gull’s beaks were no match for these oystercatchers with their sword-like proboscis’. OC 23DSC_8139  At one point they even called in a Reserve Unit: OC 28DSC_8123 OC 22DSC_8125 OC 21DSC_8124 But one day a most horrendous threat appeared. Mom sounded the alarm, “It’s coming, it’s coming!” She seemed to tweet. Yes, even birds tweet. Imagine that? There was a great black and white flutter of warning: OC 12DSC_7961   OC 20DSC_7959 It was the dreaded KOMATSU REX! Here to rebuild the Lifeguard mounds for the annual and awful,  Memorial Day infestation of humans! OC 13DSC_7879Komatsu Rex roared as it raised its huge beak toward the sand pile. The chicks ran in fear of this monster: OC 14DSC_7902Mom, guided her tiny flock away from the behemoth: OC 16DSC_7880Then, as if from nowhere, a chick-crushersaurus joined in the attack. But Mom, fearless in the face of the threat did her Tiananmen Square face-off with the yellow-bellied predators. This sequence shows her fearless determination as the roaring steel rumbles past this family protector. No trick Photoshop was used. She dares the maw of the orange hulk to try and gulp her. OC 19DSC_7871 OC 31DSC_7874 OC 33DSC_7876 

OC 32DSC_7878

This was real courage. Can you imagine the vibrations that little creature felt? But no roar, no rumble, no size, no danger, would matter. What mattered to her…was protecting loved ones.

It might be a good analogy to reflect on this Memorial Day. American troops standing stoically tough against IEDs, rocket grenades and car bombs. And those before them standing tough against the threats of the world. They all served for what mattered…loved ones. And love of country.

Before long she had her chicklets back in the groove. Oh yeah…Dad was there too: OC 18DSC_8253 It was a tough first week in a very challenging world. OC29DSC_8662 Meanwhile, offshore, a flutter of fins disturbed the surface: W1DSC_8037   Could it be a porpoise? They’ve been seen in these parts of late. W2DSC_8048A gull seemed to announce what lay beneath. Then a blast of sea spray spoke of what it could be: W3DSC_8066And as the whale twisted through the surface, it’s pectoral fins seemed to wave to the newborn chicks on the beach. it was as if it witnessed the struggle of survival on shore and the wave seemed to say…”Welcome to our world. “Yes, size matters, but not always.”:W4DSC_8113 copyThen, in a flash and a splash… W5DSC_8114…it was gone: W6DSC_8118 Please give our wildlife a break, Memorial Day and every day. Make our planet a caring world for all creatures…big and small. 

And remember those who stood for you between terror and freedom.

Be well,


From the NY Times this morning, Memorial Day, 2014. In an article, Thank You for Being Expendable, comes this quote from Abe Lincoln’s second inaugural address:“To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”

Full text

Also, please see my blog post: Our Vets Didn’t Fake it;

For a sequel Oystercatcher post see, Size still Matters:


4 replies »

  1. Thank you for this, Lee. The tie-in to Memorial Day was a surprise, but perfect. Always love your photo-essays, but I think this is one of the best yet. What patience you have. Your obvious love of our area really oozes from posts like this. Thank you for the Memorial Day image of those birds defending their way of life, just as our neighbors have done with their sacrifices.

    I always get “alerted” to your new posts via Long Beach Patch, and of course I always “recommend” them. But I just realized your blog is often run in dozens of versions of Patch around the country. Thank your for showing how truly wonderful our area is. You’re the best representative we could hope for.


  2. Dad, I absolutely LOVE your blog entries and your way with words. In the past, the present, and the future, may we all reflect on the brave Americans who fought tirelessly for our freedom and even gave their lives to protect it. They should be remembered each and every day throughout the year. May God bless each and every one of them, and, as always, may God bless America!!!!!


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