Piping Plover
Walker Golder

Piping Plover 

Melody's genetic programming, the product of millions of years of evolution, drove her south. Though to a Piping Plover this final destination has no name, Melody was headed towards a tiny island among the Joulter Cays in the Bahamas. Hugging the Atlantic Coast as she flew, her instincts told her to press on, to fly further. She wasn't at her destination yet, but she soon got very tired and very hungry...

Melody circled low and touched down on Harbor Island, South Carolina. Though she was momentarily startled by a large Golden Retriever playing in the surf, the leashed dog was reined in by its owner and Melody was able to rest and refuel for the next leg of her journey. Satiated by tiny worms and bugs she pecked from the sand, Melody took off due south once again.

By the time she reached the southern edge of Florida the sky had darkened, the wind was roaring and Hurricane Rachel was almost upon her. As she looked down at the beaches below, searching for a safe place to weather the storm, a curtain of rain descended.

Plovers like Melody once had hundreds of miles of beaches and inlets to choose from, but now pickings were slim. Vast tracts of plover habitat have been gobbled up by beachfront development while huge concrete jetties destroy tidal flats plovers need to find worms and small sea creatures to eat.

Waves slammed the beach. Melody finally found a spot to land and hunkered down behind a sand dune. Plovers are small but strong and instinct told Melody how to protect herself from the raging storm.

In the morning the sea had quieted and the sky was blue. The hurricane had stirred up the sand and Melody feasted on the tiny creatures that lived on the beach. Strengthened for the final stretch of her migration, Melody could sense she was close.


Will Melody make it to the Bahamas?  Find out in the next installment.