Saturday, June 30, 2012

Belly of the Beast

There stands the largest Plover of North America. At eleven and a half inches, these black-bellied behemoths strut about the beach with an appropriate air of haughtiness. Why appropriate? Because they're breathing higher air than all the other Plovers and Peeps around them, and they know it!

While photographing these specimen of titanicus ploveriforms, trying to maintain the appropriate levels of awe and reverence, I overheard a plaintive shorebird enviously talking to another about the stately Plover in the distance. They too, stood in awe and envy of these birds. It went something like this:

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a colossus, and we pecking hens
Walk under his huge legs and Peep about
To find ourselves running from waves.
We at some times are masters of our fates:
The fault, dear Brutus (must be bird # 2's name), is not in our wingbars,
But in ourselves, for we are Sanderlings.

As one might expect of such superlative, high-class birds, the Plovers did not appreciate my company. After giving me some brief looks, they decided I had taken too much interest in them and soon departed. When they took their leave, one of the forlorn Sanderlings tried to follow the Black-bellied Plover and his platonic (non-breeding plumage) companion.

"Wait! Take me with you!!!"

Together they flew off into the sunset, or at least towards where the sun would set in several hours. So assuming they continued to fly for five more hours (which they probably did not), they flew off into the sunset. Hopefully they did not fly too close to the sun, like Icarus. Hubris is a big problem for big Plovers.

Anyway, my time with the Black-bellied Plovers was brief, but it was beautiful. They're very striking birds with a mojo quite unique from the Turnstones, Sandpipers, Gulls, and everything else that's bustling on the beach all around them. Calm, collected, aristocratic, they bring an element of high-class to the shoreline without a doubt.

Good luck to the Sanderling. Hopefully he can keep up with the Plovers and is not driven mad with an inferiority complex. As Desiderius Erasmus once said, perhaps while doing a little birding himself, "Fortune favors the audacious."

P.S. Bonus points to whoever knows the famous play and scene referenced above!

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:(145)
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.