there are no animals here

July 1, 2006




Ooh, the symbolic fencing fairy has provided actual rope to replace the fraying orange raffia! Yay! Yay! Yay! Still not enough extra signs for unbelievably low tide today, but the stick fence that Big Steve and several of the plover wardens have been assembling along the boundary is really shaping up. It almost forms an actual rather than symbolic fence. Good thing too as with the low tide line so far away and the amazing number of people on the beach because it's the first nice day of summer, which in Massachusetts means it's the last nice day there's ever going to be, I'm in for a busy day.

I'm talking to some visitors who want to know all about the piping plovers when two kids, a boy and a girl, show up. They're pretty young. The boy announces he is going "over there" pointing to the closed area. "No you're not," say I, and the kid glares at me. I look around for the parents but don't see them. Both kids head down to the low tide line looking over their shoulders periodically. I watch the boy and wave him away from the closed area a couple of times, chasing him once. I'm back up talking to some more visitors when the boy takes off again.

Visitor, looking over at the kids: "Where do you suppose their parents are?" Me: "I was just wondering the same thing." I'm starting to get worried. These kids are too young to be at the beach alone. The girl runs up to the path that leads to the parking lot, looks around, and runs back to the boy exclaiming "I don't know where they are!"

Uh-oh. She must mean the parents! Now what do I do? I wonder how far away Unit 61 is? Should I radio the gatehouse? I take the radio off my belt and press the button. I'm just about to speak when the parents appear and the kids run up to greet them. They tell the kids it took a long time but they found a really good parking space. It took both of them to park the car?

A 3 1/2 year old boy, who is accompanied by parents who pay attention to him, is fascinated with my stick fence. He wants to know why the sticks are arranged the way they are, how to add sticks to the fence, why I don't have enough rope, why the fence doesn't go all the way down to the tide line, why am I there, what are piping plovers... I think he sort of understands what a National Wildlife Refuge is and what an endangered species is, not bad for 3 1/2 year old. Now he's fascinated with ME and wants to talk to me all the time, tell me where his grandmother lives, where he lives, where he might move to, all manner of things. He really does almost get it what a National Wildlife Refuge is because he then gets a puzzled look on his face and says "There are no animals here." "Sure there are, there's a ring-billed gull right in front of you, and this huge green dragonfly, and the piping plovers and least terns ..." "No, we saw animals at the zoo." "Oh, what animals did you see at the zoo?" "We saw gorillas and chimps and a camel!" "Umm, those animals live in Africa and people catch them to bring to the zoo for people to look at, they don't normally live in Massachusetts." "What kind of animals live in Massachusetts? I don't see any green dragon. Why do those birds live here when it's so dangerous? Why...?" Good questions kid.

Meanwhile, Unit 3 has arrived with a huge crowd of kids for a tidepool presentation. They just keep coming. I tell her she's got quite a posse today. The previously parentless children are headed for the closed area again so I take off after them and then speak to the parents. The parents tell me the kids are interested in hermit crabs. I strongly suggest they go to Unit 3's tidepool thing. I'm wearing a groove into the sand between the end of the symbolic fence and the tide line.

I'm about to sit back down in my beach chair when the verbal 3 1/2 year old announces he has to pee and drops his swim trunks. This could be very unpleasant on a crowded beach on a hot day. Fortunately the father hears him announce this and scoops him up to take him to the latrine. The kid is not happy but I reassure them both that the outhouses are really clean and don't smell bad at all.

I'm still wearing a groove in the sand to the tide line when the tidepool thing ends, Unit 3 leaves, and I have to go intercept a totally oblivious couple who never heard of piping plovers or least terns or beach closures. When I get back to my backpack and chair again somebody asks if I have bandaids in my backpack. Nope. Somebody skinned a knee on a barnacle-encrusted rock while tidepooling. Then another kid with a bloody knee asks for a bandaid, which I don't have, and then another, and another.... A woman, apparently a parent of one of the skinned knee kids, wants to know if there's a first aid kit at the outhouse -- negative, and besides that the kid is really only scraped -- we're not talking major cuts and contusions here. Barnacles are sharp but these kids are not seriously hurt. Fortunately, another beach goer overhears the pleas for bandaids and produces some from her beach bag.

Hmm, maybe I should ask Gatehouse to put some bandaids in the backpack for next time and I should bone up on what qualifies as an animal to a 3 1/2 year old. Not to mention what to do about unaccompanied children...


Bird Sightings

Plum Island

willet 4
killdeer 1
mute swan 2
American goldfinch 1
eastern kingbird 2
bobolink 1
northern mockingbird 1
great black back gull 3
ringbilled gull 4
tree swallow 2
double crested cormorant 2
least tern 2
herring gull 12
great egret 2
bank swallow 2
Bonaparte's gull 1
common tern 3
song sparrow 1
yellow warbler 1
gray catbird 1
American robin 1
common grackle 1

Today's Reading

The Bird of Light by John Hay

This Year's Reading
2006 Booklist

Photo Caption

Unit 3 with Kid at Tidepool


Back to Plover Warden Diaries

 Ignore this thing below if you are reading the Plover Warden Diaries. 


Journal Index




Copyright © 2006, Janet I. Egan