Piping Plovers are considered an endangered species, or they are at least on the verge of being so. That’s why a section of the beach and dunes at Barnegat Lighthouse is roped off from April to September. Signs placed at regular intervals warn that the area is a nesting site for them, and for two other kinds of shore birds, Black Skimmers and Least Terns.
Of course these cute little birds disregard the signs, and I have seen some running out to search for food on the beach and near the water. They look like cotton balls trotting up and down between the dunes and the waves.