Walker Golder

Melody arrived at Joulter Cays in the Bahamas--a journey of 1000 miles--just 10 days after leaving Long Island. The fall chill was beginning to creep down the east coast of the United States but Melody was safe and warm in the Bahamas, and she wasn't alone. Scores of Piping Plovers lined the shallow lagoon wading, pecking at the sand, and devouring small sea creatures. It was a plover paradise.

Months passed. Melody was fat and healthy. She took little notice of the boats passing on the horizon, and saw little evidence that she shared the world with humans. But one boat, bigger than the others, seemed to be getting closer. Too soon, the massive barge was practically on the beach and the plovers scattered...

The racket made by the sand mining barge was deafening. Men lowered massive hoses right into the plovers' favorite feeding spots and sucked mountains of sand onto the barge. Melody and her lagoon mates were in a panic. The plovers flew in confused circles around their lagoon, watching their sand-- and with it, their dinner--disappear.

Hours went by. As the sun fell low into the sky, the men pulled the hoses up on deck. The barge, with its deafening mechanical noises and its belching smoke departed.

The beach wasn't the same after the barge had left. The food was depleted and the plovers were apprehensive. Melody was also getting restless. Though she didn't know it, the snows were melting in New England. It was almost spring; almost time to head north again.

Melody knew she needed to return to Orient Beach. There, she would find a mate and raise chicks of her own on the same shore where she was hatched. And somehow, Melody knew exactly how to get back to Long Island.


What will happen to Melody on her northward migration? Find out in the next installment.

You can help Melody along her journey by pledging to share the beach with shorebirds.

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