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”: I 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: But some tread impressions were so fresh and deep they were a real challenge to climb: Sometimes Mom took her offspring closer to the surf: But always under her watchful gaze: At times, when a perceived threat would appear, like a biped mammal with a huge 500mm Nikon nose…Mom would give a warning glare: 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. 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’. At one point they even called in a Reserve Unit: 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: It was the dreaded KOMATSU REX! Here to rebuild the Lifeguard mounds for the annual and awful, Memorial Day infestation of humans! Komatsu Rex roared as it raised its huge beak toward the sand pile. The chicks ran in fear of this monster: Mom, guided her tiny flock away from the behemoth: Then, 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.
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: It was a tough first week in a very challenging world. Meanwhile, offshore, a flutter of fins disturbed the surface: Could it be a porpoise? They’ve been seen in these parts of late. A gull seemed to announce what lay beneath. Then a blast of sea spray spoke of what it could be: And 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.”:Then, in a flash and a splash… …it was gone: 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.
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.”
Also, please see my blog post: Our Vets Didn’t Fake it;https://leebythesea.me/2014/05/10/our-vets-didnt-fake-it/
For a sequel Oystercatcher post see, Size still Matters:https://leebythesea.me/2014/06/02/size-still-matters-2/