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Saturday, 17 April 2010

Piping Plover


File:Piping plover.jpg

for Curtis

A bird that disappears

into the depth of field

of sand and bits

of small smooth ocean

polished stone

stands alone

upon its own

blue shadow

Piping plover (Charadrius melodus), Long Island, N.Y.: photo by shutterglow, 2007


Anonymous said...

Us and our own shadows. Our eternal company.

TC said...

Let it be hoped we are preparing to sing our way out of them, at least for a moment, like the piping plover.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Such blueness ... very nice, Tom.

TC said...

Thanks Don, Yes, it's always good to find a bright note blending in amid the blues. The piping plover (named after its call, a repetitive piping pweep, ka-weep) is an inconspicuous creature whose coloration tends to cause it to meld visually into its coastal habitat of dry, sandy, shell-strewn beaches and alkali flats. To protect its chicks it will further disguise their presence by feigning a broken wing, thus drawing away any unwanted attention that might be trained upon the tender young. The "broken wing display" is also used to distract predators from the nest. It is good to think that a bit of art can prove more successful than aggression in extending a life or lives.

TC said...

A piping plover, hopping a step ahead of the Extinction Curve.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks for the video and further info. Shorebirds were an endless source of fascination when I lived on the East coast. This little marvel has so many fine qualities. I had heard of the broken wing display and forgotten it was the plover.

TC said...


Indeed it was vicarious sharing in your memories of the Jersey shore as well as Curtis Roberts's reports, in just the past few days, of certain birding mysteries at Avalon, same shore, that provoked this post.

'Twas interesting to learn that of the remaining piping plovers about half (some five to six thousand) inhabit that stretch of beaches, dunes and flats; and that despite the significant human presence thereabouts (to which a steep dip in piping plover numbers some years back was reasonably attributed), they seem to be making something of a comeback.

Tiny yet tough, then, it seems they do be, handsome little blenders that they are.

(I turned out, by the by, that Curtis's mystery bird was not a piping plover but a hoopoe, after all.)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Well, the hoopoe I was unfamiliar with - despite a rather schmaltzy soundtrack, here is a video that has examples of feeding, what appears to be nesting, and, delightfully at the very end, displaying. If I'm reading correctly, the hoopoe is basically and Afro, European, and Asian bird. Did Curtis spot one on the East Coast? I must have missed that thread.

TC said...


A great hoopoe indeed, splendid headgear, wonderfully displayed, fine nesting work and a bill whose dimensions and skill of application are truly admirable (unless, I suppose, you happen to be a bug or a grub).

From Curtis's original account -- his birding adventure can be found toward the bottom of the thread on the post "Henry Green: The Glory", a few slots below this one -- I still harbour a sneaking suspicion his hoopoe may actually have been a piping plover (he specifies a red bill). But who am I to quarrel with his superior on-the-ground vantage, ornithological savvy and assiduous empirical observation over several visits.

In any case, thanks for this. I find almost any kind of bird to be of supreme interest in the moment of observing it (apart that is from the old coot I can't help catching a glimpse of any time I make the mistake of passing by a reflective surface).

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks for pointing to your exchange with Curtis ... ah, what a wonderful, circuitous ramble from Henry Green down to my ol' Jersey shore stomping grounds, then the Cape May Zoo, and a storm-related escape. I was wondering about that transatlantic detail.

Here's hoping not only that they make it but that there will be a new whole colony sometime to visit when returning "home."

Yes, a little too optimistic for an old timer but it's spring, when better to hope? I'm going to conduct an introduction to poetry session for some "life long" learners later today and intend to begin with Cummings's "spring is like a perhaps hand" ...

"moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything."

TC said...

Yes, Don, I visit Issa's and see the manifest evidence of your admirable and heroic endeavour to make poetry a friendly shared communal thing, an activity of mutual joy and pleasure in a community. Without waxing too soppy about it, I am moved by that.

Ah, Cummings, maybe everybody's first "real" poet.

And ah, spring, where is it?

Rain cannonading down through the shredded eaves all through the livelong night here. Would that migration were an option.

Curtis Roberts said...

We're continuing our research, but we're quite sure they were a nesting pair of hoopoes. We've never seen anything remotely like them down there (meaning in the area from Ocean City down to Cape May, including our walks through the bird sanctuary/wetlands museum that lies between Stone Harbor and the Garden State Parkway exit). They'll find plenty of appropriate food in the area and they appeared to be quite content. Of course, it's April and still very quiet at the beach. The red-billed hoopoe appears on the stamps of a number of African nations, including Gambia, Liberia and Rwanda, and the birds pictured there are the image of the birds we saw on the beach and in the bird house at the Cape May County Zoo.