From today's Age:
Let’s draw a line in the sand over these bossy beach bums
THEY’RE juveniles, they’re white, they wear black hoodies, they hang round in
packs, and they’re taking over our beaches, hiding in the dunes all day and
getting off their faces on fermented mollusc juice.
AllI wanted to do was find a quiet spot on the sand and sit down like a normal
beach-goer , just enjoy the sun and the surf and that squirty seaweed that pops
like back zits.
But I couldn’t sit down because there was no place to sit. As I stepped onto
the beach, there was a sign sticking out of the sand that said ‘‘ Hooded plover
habitat. Keep clear’’ , with a picture of a plover, looking all intimidating
with its redrimmed goth eyes and its timid 20-centimetre bird body.
SoI walked a bit further down the beach but there was a sign there too. It said
‘‘ Hooded plovers nesting area. Do not linger or enter upper beach. Please walk
past along water’s edge’’ , like I’d stepped into gangland turf and this was
some kind of TV drug-drama series called Breaking Bird.
Further and further I walked, untilI finally founda vacant bit of sand where
there were no warning signs, so I sat down beside a fence, but then a
middle-aged couple came running up to me, going ‘‘ No no, you can’t sit there,
this is a fenced-off refuge for hooded plovers!’’
They were all hysterical, flapping their arms – I think they were a mating pair
of warbling shrike-tits . Isaid, ‘‘ I’m not bothering the plovers, I’m just
sitting down’’ , and they said, ‘‘ In case you’re not aware, hooded plover
numbers are falling rapidly and they could become extinct if we don’t let them
breed and raise their young safely, undisturbed by people and dogs. Please move
SoI had to move on. As if I wanted to stay anyway. The thought of those horny
little plovers getting it on in the dune shrubs, right in front of everyone –
disgusting, no self-respect .
No beach could be more pristine with its talcum sand and turquoise sea, andI
plodded up and down, passing other desperate-eyed beach-goers , all of us
glancing at each other as if to say, ‘‘ Hooded plovers spoiling your day too?’’
‘‘ Yeah, those selfish little shellfish munchers are everywhere.’’ ‘‘ Stay
strong, fellow beach-goer , we must endure, somehow.’’
Hooded plover hatred started brewing inside me. I began to despise their
out-of-control egos and arrogant beach demands. You don’t see other
nonmigratory shorebirds behaving so obnoxiously – the painted snipe is anything
but snipey. And the beach stone-curlew is always friendly and welcoming,
happily letting you trample all over its nesting areas and hatchlings. But
these hooded plover were trying to steal all the best beach spots in the
country, getting special treatment because of their whiny threatened-species
tactics and hopelessly inept dunebreeding routines.
I started thinking that if I actually saw a hooded plover, I’d picka fight with
it– yeah, I reckonI could beat a 15-centimetre male in a fight. Maybe not if he
brought his mates, but if he was alone, sure, I’d show him the true meaning of
‘‘ critically endangered’’ .
The only plover-less spot on the whole beach was near the surf life saving club
soI sat down ina scungy corner of sand, smooshed up with hundreds of other
beach-goers , butI had to move on again because there was more breeding going
on behind me in the dunes. This time between a fully developed female
buff-breasted sandpiper and a very scrawny sunburned male red-spotted redshank .
Copyright © 2013 Fairfax Media
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