Garbage on the doorstep

The Piping Plovers that nest at “B” Lot and other oceanside beaches at Sandy Hook do so under almost ideal conditions, at least until Memorial Day Weekend, when beachgoers arrive.

Before then, they court, bond and set up housekeeping in relative isolation. Clamshells and pebbles populate the landscape; bits of driftwood and beachgrass offer them cover.

Save the occasional wayward Lab that can’t resist a dip in their private ocean.


(Dogs are not allowed on oceanside beaches during nesting season. Many people ignore this rule.)


The northernmost tip of Sandy Hook, by contrast, is like another world… beachgoers rarely wander this far; the beach outside the plovers’ protected nesting area is littered with debris…

Piping Plovers, Least Terns, Skimmers, Oystercatchers… they all nest here, in privacy, in the middle of the garbage that washes, butt up, on their doorstep.

Far above the tide line, they carve out their nest scrapes among the scattered wrack and shells; they shelter their young in the shadow of discarded tv sets…

rusted oxygen(?) tanks…

car bumpers…

This last is kinda gross – don’t look!

and decomposing dogs washed ashore from God-knows-where.

(I never did find any Plovers here… but the 8-10 reported recently had plenty of places to hide!)

I think we owe them better; I believe the cost of privacy for endangered and threatened species shouldn’t be as high as this!

Every bit of garbage ends up somewhere… we all know this. A lot of NYC trash ends up at Sandy Hook. This needn’t be so.


Clean Ocean Action sponsors regular beach sweeps… the next at Sandy Hook is scheduled for April 30, 2011!

(Our newly returned Osprey will thank you for a more beautiful landscape over which to hunt flounder!)

Piping Plovers deserve at least as clean a beach as we expect for ourselves, don’t you think?

9 thoughts on “Garbage on the doorstep”

  1. I hardly know where to begin. Trash makes me furious. I just can’t understand it. Why dump stuff? Human can be so…stupid. Why foul our “nest” and at the same time foul the nest of so many sweet creatures?

    (As an aside–the photo of the doll gave me a start!)

  2. Nice post (and excellent images, as usual).

    Question: Where do the nesting birds have more success? The clean yet crowded beaches or the unattractive (to humans) trash areas?


    (I’m really curious.)

  3. Wow. I’m often amazed and always saddened by how much trash one can find in nature. This, though — this is ridiculous. It’s like people think that if they throw it away, it magically disappears.

  4. Most trash on beaches came down streams/rivers in urbanized areas – either from dumping or stormwater. At least that is the way here on the Pac. NW Beaches. That’s where the education, cleanup, and enforcement is most effective.

  5. Cleaner. This is an amazing post in terms of these photographs. I thought the headless doll was striking and they just got more so. What a mess we make of things.

  6. I have photos of egrets and herons feeding in garbage-filled lakes. Somehow, your close-ups of the Piping Plovers juxtaposed with close-ups of bizarre ugly garbage are much more effective at showing us the horror of the situation.

  7. KGMom: It’s a real disappointment to me also…

    Ruth: This one beach is particularly bad, I think, because of its proximity to the city.

    Steve: I’d be interested to know, also. If i ever find Jeanne the NPS Ranger in a good mood, maybe I’ll ask her…

    More birds seem to choose that area to nest in, if that means anything.

    Delia: Who knows how most of it ends up in the water?

    Rabbit’s Guy: Yep… same here.

    Vicki: We do, yes.

    Donna: I have some wonderful pix from the Meadowlands of Night Herons feeding among garbage and discarded tires. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, btw!

    Mary: Yeah… it’s gross.

    Miss you, too!

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