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Week Six

Wednesday, June 18- One step forward three steps back

            The circle of life is a vicious, mind-numbing, battle for survival in the unforgiving bedlam of existence. There is nothing more defeating then watching nature and human nature battle against the continued survival of the Piping Plover. Today we found one nest with three eggs in an area of beach that has been highly predadated by fox. There is nothing we can do. The crafty predator has dug into every exclosure on that beach and it is likely that anything we use to defend the nest will attract the fox. We lost 1 nest to fox today as well as 2 nests that were abandoned for unknown causes. This leaves us with 46 nesting attempts, 17 active nests, including 3 hatched nests with 11 chicks. They have one more week to nest before there breeding season ends and the pairs that don’t have nests leave to feed. The next pair set to hatch abandoned, so it’ll be a week before we can completely comprehend the effects that the fox and the weather have had on the Plovers. All we can do know is set traps and hope that there is a sharp decline in the nesting failures. Even though it’s natural causes killing these nest I can’t help but take it personally. I have done all I can and I still feel that I’m helpless against the overwhelming odds against us. It’s hard to go from 26 active nests to 17 in the course of a week. Pray for full traps in the morning.


And then there was JOY!

            Finally after our overwhelming streak of devastation there has been a joyous reprieve. We received an anonymous tip form a local birder that there was an Oyster Catcher pair that had chicks on the bayside where we had yet to look for any nests. When we went over to the island where Jeanne suspected the nest might be. We saw the OC  nesting plover pair. In addition to the excitement on the island, we found a box turtle on the road and got to tag and file it. It peed all over the truck. We also were fortunate enough to catch the fox that has been pillaging the nests at North. It was not the cute and cuddly as the fox pups that we were catching down at Fee. It looked mangy and smelled like it had recently been sprayed by a skunk and it proceeded to defecate all over the bed of the truck and the smell still continues to linger. It did in fact have mange and it had to be shot by law enforcement. It was really hard to watch the pain and suffering that the fox was going through because of the infection. Death was really a blessing for the poor thing. All of our plover chicks are happy and healthy. The Coast Guard clutch has been testing there wings and soon will be fledging. Eddies chicks are doing well and are happily running in and out of the nesting area because, like their parents, they love to live on the edge. On North beach and North Gunnison we have Least Terns hatched and they are the epitome of cuteness. Also on North Gunnison there is a second pair of Oyster Catchers that has hatched and they were smaller then the ones on the bayside.  


This is one of the most emotionally trying experiences I’ve ever had. My mind is dominated by thoughts of Plovers, Oyster Catchers and Terns. My attitude is directly related to the survival rate that day. It is soo rewarding to see all the chicks and to feel like I’ve made a difference in the life of these small birds and that future generations will have a chance to enjoy the cuteness of the Plovers. It really is worth it.




( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 24th, 2008 09:38 pm (UTC)
Ack, ok, get me a fox sans mange, if you could.

Those birdies are teh cuteness! I'm happy you're enjoying your time there. Even though it could feel like you're useless, those 17 nesting pairs see it quite a bit differently, I suspect (assuming they understand what's going on at all...heh.)

Miss you!
Jun. 25th, 2008 01:22 am (UTC)
You make a difference! We humans do what we can and piping plover numbers are rebounding because of it. I know how you feel, we lost a nest to a crow last week.

Good luck with the predator trapping.

I blogged your entry at The Plover Warden Diaries.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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