Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bye Bye Birdie ...

My friend Laura, of Somewhere in NJ fame, makes her home in Georgia these days. But for the past two summers the lure of the Jersey Shore has been too strong to resist. So she has gotten a summer gig both years with the NJ Department of Fish and Wildlife. To go to the beach. To look at birds.

Let that sink in a moment.

She gets paid to go to the beach and look at birds. All summer long.

Which she did for free when she lived here in NJ.

Anyways, she invited me down to the Malibu Beach Wildlife Management Area to visit, and photograph, the skimmer and tern colonies she watches. Part of her job is to count the birds, she claims that there are over 1500 skimmers there. She also tries to keep curious (or is that oblivious) humans out of the breeding areas. We were joined this morning by two Rutgers students who had completed a shorebird study earlier this year as part of their studies, which had infected them with the birding bug.

And black skimmers we did see. Including the disappearing chick in this sequence of photos.

The chick is just peaking out from under the bird in the center of the photo. (Remember to click on any photo to bigafy it.)

Going ...

... going ...

... going ...

... gone!

And then mom or dad presumably got hungry, and our hero (the egg shaped item just to the left of center in the image below) was left all alone. Albeit surrounded by many other skimmers and terns.

Skimmers nest on the beach, the "nest" being just a scrape in the sand. Predators are kept at bay by the large number of birds in the colony. But they have no real defense against us lumbering humans. The colony covers a relatively small stretch of beach in a location that wasn't prime for human use. But despite clear and abundant signage and fencing clearly demarcating the off limits breeding area we saw several people wandering into the closed off areas.  

This puts the chicks and eggs in peril, not just from being stepped on (they are well camouflaged and quite difficult to spot) but from flushing all the adult birds away. And while they might not be away for long, it doesn't take long for a gull or a hawk to swoop down and be off with a chick. 

So if you are down the beach this summer and see these signs, stay away. Or better yet get a pair of binoculars and your camera and watch from a safe, for the birds, distance. 

1 comment:

LauraHinNJ said...

You make my job sound sooo easy!

Glad I got to show you Skimmer Nation... I look forward to more pix!