A Beach Bum for the Birds

I stopped being a “beach bum” a long time ago.

But I’m back on the beaches again.

This time, to be with the birds!

I love the intense light and deep shadows of the early mornings here on the Cape.

There’s nothing that makes my heart dance quite like the sight of a tiny Sanderling…

Chasing the waves to and fro…

Then pausing to look at me, backlit by the morning sun.

I guess that makes me a “beach bum”, after all.  😉


Up and Running with the Mighty Sanderling

Up and running in the new day.

‘Tho’ I’ve met my match for sure in the mighty Sanderling when it comes to energy levels.

LOVE these plucky little sandpipers, scooting along the shore at Nauset Beach and beyond!

New Bird – Spotted Sandpiper at Ridgevale Beach, Chatham

I have been meaning to share another one of my “new bird” discoveries!

The other evening, while busy photographing a Willet standing in the creek at Ridgevale beach…

Out of the corner of my eye I could have sworn I saw a flash of white zoom under the bridge where I was standing.

I couldn’t see him at first, so I went back to my Willet, who seemed more than willing for his Kodak moment.

Just then I heard the sound of water, as if something was splashing in the shallows directly under me, and when I leaned over the rail to look out! flew this tiny bird fly that quickly landed on the muddy bank beyond.

Now if you’re anything like me, you just know when you are seeing something different; a bird you’ve never seen before.

This tiny thing was adorable, with yellow feet and orangey-yellow bill, lots of white on the chest and underbelly and a mix of brown feathers throughout; about the size of a Sanderling.

But the funniest thing about him was the way he teetered, bobbing his tiny tail up and down, up and down, up and down, like it would never stop.

And you could tell, he was hungry!

Yet like so many of the little shorebirds that I meet, he most politely allowed me a few moments for several more photos.

The pics came out a bit on the bright side, but fine, good enough to identify and share.

My favorite was the one of him at the water’s edge with his beautiful image reflected in the watery mirror before him.

A big thank you to What’s This Bird for their help with the identification of this Spotted Sandpiper  (probably a juvie with the yellow legs and no breast spots).

A most memorable “first” indeed!  😉

Gulls and Sanderlings – Opportunity and Abundance

When I got to Ridgevale Beach late this afternoon the clouds were AMAZING as I looked out from the channel bridge.

Down along the shore the clouds were even more breathtaking, and the water choppy as a stiff breeze and chill air reminded me that next time I need to wear more layers now that autumn is here in earnest!  😉

Just then I looked toward Cockle Cove Beach, and I noticed an animated bit of activity there among the gulls and sanderlings.

The sanderlings, one of my favorite shorebirds, were trotting along the shore, back and forth, back and forth, even more frenetically than usual.

Yet they weren’t following the waves, as is their usual pattern, but following the gulls, up and down the shoreline.

Yet as busy as they were, one or two of them would now and again turn to look at me; giving me that old familiar sanderling gaze that has endeared them to me ever since I first discovered them many years ago.

Meanwhile, all along the shore the gulls were in the air, scanning the churning chop for scallops, hovering for a time and then plunging down, down into the froth!

More often than not, UP they’d come with tiny scallops in their bills, and carry them to shore.

And of course they would then fight over them, as gulls always do.

It was then that I noticed something…

Each time they’d finish with their squabbling over whose scallop was whose, the gulls would finish their meal quickly and then fly off, screaming at one other, impatient to go find more food to fight over.

And that’s when the sanderlings would scurry in, scooping up the crumbs that were left behind.

So that’s why they were following the gulls around; waiting for their dinner to be brought to shore for them, courtesy of the hungry, noisy, greedy gulls.

And off they’d trot on tiny little legs, with their belly full of scallops!

Such smart little birds, these sanderlings, yesindeedy!

If it is even possible,  I think now I love them even more…   😉