Part of the beach at Moss Landing State Beach was roped off, with signs indicating that it was to protect the Snowy Plover, cousin of the Piping Plover found in New Jersey and the East Coast in general.
Snowy Plovers live and breed on the sand dunes covered with Sea Figs (also called Ice Plants) and they did not seem to mind the humans who fished, surfed, or strolled along the beach. Some even ran from the roped off sections down to the surf looking for food, then ran back. They trilled and whistled when they saw me, but they continued their activities as long as I kept a respectful distance.
In New Jersey the Holgate section of the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is completely roped off for several months starting in April to allow Piping Plovers to breed there. No mere mortal is allowed to cross into that area. As a result I have never seen one, so I was thrilled to see Snowy Plovers at Moss Landing.
Snowy Plover at Moss Landing State Beach.
Two Snowy Plovers with banded legs at Moss Landing State Beach.
Snowy Plover with leg bands at Moss Landing State Beach.
Snowy Plover with banded legs at Moss Landing State Beach.
Snowy Plover without leg bands at Moss Landing State Beach.
The Snowy Plover population was estimated at 2,900 in 2012 on the Pacific Coast. They are considered a threatened or endangered species, depending on the state.