Snowy Plovers, Whimbrels, Marbled Godwits and a regal Snowy Egret – Dr. Plastic Picker

Snowy Plovers, Whimbrels, Marbled Godwits and a regal Snowy Egret

| Posted in Bees, Butterflies, Birds (Non Humanoid Life), Trash Art

November 11, 2019

by drplasticpicker

My ocean plastic picking is taking me even further north along the Pacific Coast. Photo credit by drplasticpicker.

Brandt’s Comorants, Whimbrels, Long-billed Curlews, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Black Turnstones, Western Gulls, Marbled Godwits, one Surfbird and Snowy Plovers. These are the threatened Pacific coastal birds I saw on one of my ocean plastic picking walks.

The half-mile stretch of beach I clean most mornings is the southernmost tip of the South La Jolla Marine Protected Area.

On the California State Government website, it says that in a Marine Protected Area there are

Permitted and Prohibited Uses:

  1. It is unlawful to injure, damage, take, or possess any living, geological, or cultural marine resource for commercial and/or recreational purposes, with the following specified exceptions:
    1. The recreational take of pelagic finfish by hook-and-line only is allowed.

When I start my walks, it is just north of a pier and then I usually walk about half a mile meandering north. One morning I walked the furthest north I have gone, and went up along the rocky coast. Rather than firm packed sand, the path became increasingly rocky. Mounds of kelp fill in the rocky shore, and swarms of insects feast on their decay. I tread very carefully picking up interesting pieces of human debris: swim goggles, shirts, plastic bottle caps, broken off boogie board latches. That morning, the stench of the decaying kelp was overwhelming and it hit me like a wave. I almost fainted. I steeled myself and carefully jogged through the area and past the swarms of black insects. But in this miasma was the beauty of threatened coastal marine birds.

Look carefully and you will see the Black Turnstones amongst the flock of Marbled Godwits. Photo credit by drplasticpicker.
The mixed flock feasting on the insects and delicious food below the waters. Photo credit by drplasticpicker.
Snowy Egret. Regal and graceful. Photo credit by drplasticpicker.

As I reached the concrete steps that led up into the residential area that overlooks the ocean, there was a young man sitting on the steps cleaning up for the morning. We looked at each other with quiet acknowledgement.

Above this rocky shore were steps that led up to quiet street lined with multi-million dollar homes. I met my mother who had agreed to meet me halfway from her humble abode, and we walked further along the coastal roads seeing only bits of the ocean as large palatial homes sat preening in all their modern glory greedily blocking my view of the birds. But, I was rewarded with this final view.

Black Comorants, I believe, but I was too far to see their beautiful detail. Photo credit by drplasticpicker.

I walked with my mother around the even streets. She wanted to do a brisk 30 minute walk. Her knees bother her here and there, and flat even surfaces are best. She prefers to stay away from the strong stench of the rotting kelp below and the rocky paths are not safe for her, but she knows the beautiful Snowy Egret. My mother is a lover of birds. When we lived more inland, she once found an injured young Peregrine Falcon and nursed it back to health in our backyard. She set it free and it is the strongest memories my younger brother has of her. The joy on her face as that young Peregrine Falcon flew upward.

The irony is that in this opulent neighborhood that overlooks coastal treasures, I also spied this.

Is that a parrot? Photo credit by drplasticpicker.
Yes, a fake parrot. Photo credit by drplasticpicker.

And then we spied a nest that has recently fallen to the ground. The city workers had been trimming the palm trees.

Fallen nest on the sidewalk. Photo credit by drplasticpicker.

As we finally reached my mother’s house and my pedometer almost to 10,000 steps – I remembered the beautiful coastal birds I had seen today. Their long beaks. Their graceful plumes. The rounded bodies with bold contrasts of black and white. I hope that we will continue to have them in our lives, and not have to rely on stone replicas. As I entered my parent’s courtyard, looking forward to a cup of coffee, I saw them.

Two ducks. Photo credit by drplasticpicker.

Two paired stone ducks greeted me silently. The air was clear, and sweet smell of the flowers in my mother’s garden. But I knew this was not real. I knew I preferred the stench of the kelp and the regal Snowy Egret. And I think my mother preferred the young Peregrine Falcon over these cold replicas. My mother had a good chuckle when I told her about the framework of this post, and I enjoyed talking to her about it and writing it.

Here is my poem I have written in honor of the Whimbrel and the Thornback Guitarfish

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