I left San Diego at the end of April. I am thankful for slow and easy journeys in my Roadtrek. As I moved north I had time to stop and explore. I love the coast of California. Actually, the whole west coast is pretty magnificent. It has got to do with water and rugged nature. Much of the Pacific Coast in the United States is a cold and rough ocean.
I arrived at Carpenteria State Beach, near Santa Barbara, for a four-night stay. I have learned to speak up if I don’t find a campsite to my liking. I was originally in a parking site between two rigs. There was no picnic table and I felt like I was in a parking lot. When I spoke to the ranger, he gave me three sites to look at. I found the perfect site. Although the park was busy my site was quiet. I remained there for four nights.
There are moments in time that are special in my life. One of them occurred while camping at Carpenteria. This is spring and the Snowy Plovers were sitting on eggs or managing their young. They are protected, so the area where they are nesting was closed off to the public.
I spent a morning sitting outside the roped-off area watching the babies and adult Plovers. I have seen signs for the Snowy Plovers before, yet this is the first time I have actually had the opportunity to see the adults and babies.
Here are some facts about these sweet little birds.
- Snowy Plovers are pale brown shorebirds, that forage for invertebrates on ocean beaches and in desolate salt flats and alkaline lakes. Snowy Plovers make nearly invisible nests on beaches, where they are easily disturbed by humans, dogs, and beach vehicles.
- They are endangered. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 31,000, of which an estimated 24,000 breed in the U.S. Presently, fewer than 2,000 breeding plovers remain in the Pacific coast population.
- Their camouflage is perfect for their environment. If I took my eyes off the young ones it took a bit to find them again.
- Young Snowy Plovers leave the nest within 3 hours of hatching and are able to forage unassisted almost immediately (though the parents still brood them periodically to keep them warm). If a predator approaches, the parent gives a signal and the chicks flatten themselves against the ground.
- Snowy Plovers often raise 2 broods of chicks a year. Females occasionally desert their mates when the chicks hatch to begin a new nest with a different male.
- The oldest recorded Snowy Plover was 15 years and 9 months old when it was spotted in Oregon and identified by its band.
It was an honor to see these little birds and photograph them. Their curiosity was infectious. They made me laugh and feel joy. They remind me of the fragility and strength of life in all forms. It is important to support all life that is left in this world, even these little shorebirds. Every time another species disappears, I feel that a little of you and me disappears as well.
I am so grateful to be given these opportunities in nature. Nature gives me the opportunity to grow and strengthen, to experience joy and delight.
Today I am thankful for the Snowy Plovers. Today I am thankful for nature. Today I am Thankful.