In just two weeks, the Piping Plover chicks near Silver Sands State Park have grown from the size of cotton balls to nearly the size of their parents. Here's a family portrait I took yesterday morning with Mom on the right and the four not-so-little babies on the left; I don't think these guys will fit under Mom's wings anymore!
These chicks have still got some growing to do before they can set off on their own, but it's cool to see them getting closer to adulthood. Such big babies:
Unfortunately, one of the four hatchlings now has an injured leg.... I'm not sure how or when this happened, but at least the poor little guy seemed to be getting around pretty well (foraging and running nearly as fast as its siblings). I reported the injury, but apparently there isn't much people can do at this point, and based on other reports the bird actually seems to be improving. So I'll just continue to keep my fingers crossed for the hurt bird and its so-far-healthy siblings!
I've posted many pictures of the father plover already, but I can't resist sharing one more of this handsome fellow amongst colorful reflections from man-made structures:
While the Piping Plover family was foraging on one part of the beach, this Black-crowned Night-Heron was hunting for creatures buried in the sand a little ways away:
I often see Black-crowned Night-Herons at Silver Sands State Park, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've gotten to watch one of these creatures fairly close up. This is such a fancy bird, with those bright red eyes and flowing tassels (for lack of a better word to describe the crazy feathers sticking out of the back of its head). Herons and egrets tend to get into some weird postures while they're hunting, and this guy was no exception; heron necks sure are extendable!
I'm not sure what this bird was finding in the sand (some sort of mollusc, perhaps?), but it was getting a good meal. Yum:
Here's a brief video of the heron in action (with a bonus Ring-billed Gull shuffling through the scene at one point):
The park was filled with activity, despite the heat and humidity. I'll close with a lovely dragonfly (some sort of Meadowhawk, I think, genus Sympetrum) who posed so nicely at the edge of a green and flowering field:
What a fun and interesting beach day!