It’s about habits.
When I was a smoker over thirty five years ago I had my habit fine tuned. When I’d leave home, I’d get in the car and just before starting it, I’d light up…even if I just had a smoke. It was part of my routine and my routine followed its cues: Car, sit, ignition…of a smoke.
Some people back then even developed habits of smoking in “afterglows”, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
We just recognized Earth Day, and our communities are showing real involvement.
Long Beach, NY started BYOB, not Bring Your Own Bottle but bring-your-own-bag…to the local store or supermarket. You’ll pay five cents for per bag otherwise and its a good move.
It’s only a matter of developing a habit, ya know…a good habit.
So now I need to develop a new car-cue. When I park near a supermarket and push the remote to lock the car, I know I need to have something else in hand before entering the store. Something like a bag.
You think five cents is not a big deal to pay for the bag, and it’s not. But it’s not about the money, it’s about street trash and tree trash and shore traps. That’s right, plastic bags are traps as well as trash. They trap our wildlife.
Birds and other creatures get caught up in the bags…and die. They associate plastic bags with food. They are cued by them.
Plastic bags containing food scraps blow out of street refuse containers. People feed gulls leftover crackers and such from disposable plastic bags too. The gulls learn…bags = food. They are cued to “work” them with their beaks for a possible reward. So you can save a vulnerable creature when shopping. Bag it with a reusable bag.
Our oystercatchers are nesting again. One nest, at National Blvd., west of the Allegria hotel, seems to be far enough from the surf to avoid high tides.
High tides are becoming an annual threat to our nesting oystercatchers. We did have an unfortunate spring high tide last year that washed over the westernmost nest chilling and killing the embryonic life within. ( Added Apr. 28th, 2017: I learned through the South Shore Audubon Soc. that even if well meaning persons see that a tide will rise to endanger eggs, they cannot move the eggs. “Bird eggs are federally protected and it is illegal to move them, even if they are not in the ideal or appropriate habitat.”) So these and other shore birds have real challenges to deal with. To be far enough from the surf, the brave parents this year set up very close to the rock toting vehicles’ path. So they are very much between a rock and a wet place.
One of our Oystercatcher enthusiasts, Bill O’Brien, ever ready to protect our shore birds, placed cones around the nest as soon as the eggs hit the sand. Rumor has it that the first egg that was dropped almost hit the base of the cone as Bill was placing it. Bill’s photo:
But yesterday, our Public Works Dept, in cooperation with the South Shore Audubon Society, had a string fence put up to replace the cones.
Vincent Sarnicola, of the Beach Maintenance Dept. did the hazardous work of approaching the nest to get the job done. But he’s experienced with that danger having gone beyond the call of duty two years ago dodging the piercing red beaks. Says Vincent about his work, “If I get plucked to death.. well… I will die with passion.”
People living with “passion”, love that word.
Some pretty amusing photos here, thanks to Vincent, even he thinks so:
Oystercatchers are territorial. And when this pair thinks territory, they’re not moving. Despite the passing of rumbling rock-filled trucks and bounding bulldozers, the oystercatchers…just stand their ground.
Another threat to the oystercatchers are people getting too close, unintentionally harassing them. Sometimes intentionally harming the nests, in one case last year a pre-teen broke one of the eggs on our boardwalk.
With the 80 degree weather due this week we’ll see a lot more activity on our beach and people will do what people will do. But let’s all keep well away from even the perimeter of the fence. We all like to take photos of our wildlife but I try keep in mind that not everything is about my photo capture or my entertainment. And I try to make that thinking…a habit.
And you might like to run your dog on open sands but it is unlawful in Long Beach and it is a serious threat to the nesting oystercatchers. Remember, again, it’s about our wildlife, they are life as much as we are.
Past oystercatchers, taken from a safe distance with a 300mm lens, didn’t phase Mom but she always keeps a watchful eye:
We do have the species, Lensus Americanus, gracing our Long Beach shores from sunrise, to well past sunset. You don’t hear much about this species but they can be observed by a sharp-eyed visitor all year round. One of them, the ubiquitous Bill O’Brien, snared this whale near surfers just a few days ago: