Conserve Wildlife Blog

Tracks in the Sand: A Piping Plover Love Affair

September 15th, 2017

by: Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

Piping plover tracks in the sand.

Anyone who has monitored or closely followed piping plovers knows these (pictured) tracks well. They have to. Most wildlife leaves behind distinct clues that reveal their presence, but if you are tracking the well camouflaged piping plover, the best, and sometimes only, clue you have are these ephemeral tracks in the sand.

Finding these tracks, especially the first ones of the breeding season in early spring, makes my heart stir, even after 20+ years of searching for piping plovers. They shout, “I’m here, now find me”. These particular tracks happen to be a late season find, sighted just this past week, special in a different way as they were unexpected and may be my last glimpse of them here in New Jersey this year as most piping plovers have now migrated south for the winter. I followed the tracks like I always do and soon enough I spotted three pale beauties resting absolutely still on a nearby sand hummock.

This blog doesn’t contain any earth-shattering conservation message. It is just about my own love affair with piping plovers. I am lucky to have found that magical something in nature that moves me. I hope each of you has your own version, whether it be a delicate monarch butterfly improbably fluttering thousands of miles in the wind towards its wintering grounds in Mexico or a powerful bison lumbering across a grasslands vista out west. One of the main reasons my colleagues and I are engaged in conservation work is so everyone has the opportunity to experience and be inspired by wildlife in its natural habitats.

Piping plovers will not provide a cure for cancer, they will not boost our economy, and they certainly will not be the key to uniting us politically. They will bring a smile to your face, they will evoke wonder, and they may just make your day. Sometimes that is enough.

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One Response to “Tracks in the Sand: A Piping Plover Love Affair”

  1. mary lenahan says:

    Beautifully written post, Todd. Thank you for sharing your passion for plovers with us. Reading this post certainly made my day!

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