Category Archives: Shore Birds

Sanderlings

I spotted this group of Sanderlings driving along Indian River Lagoon in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The immediately took off, but returned with a flourish in just a few minutes.

Sanderlings in Flight
Sanderlings in Flight

I’ve usually seen them running along the surf, but this one loan Sanderling took a dip in water up to his belly.

Sanderling in the Surf
Sanderling in the Surf

Click on either photo for larger view. 

Shore Birds Standing in the Surf

I got another opportunity to photograph Black Skimmers last week when a small group along with some Terns visited the same sand bar where I saw them two weeks ago. This Royal Tern had a few things to say.

Black Skimmers and Terns
Black Skimmers and Terns

When I first spotted them there were some Pelicans in the mix but they didn’t hang around. The tide was nearly out and this group of smaller birds seemed content to let the water lap around their legs. I didn’t see any of them feeding.

Black Skimmers and Terns
Black Skimmers and Terns

After the tide turned they shifted as a group a few times, going into the air, doing a few loops and settling just a couple dozen feet from where they started. It was only when a couple of bicyclists and a family with a baby carriage came along that they left.

Black Skimmers in Flight
Black Skimmers in Flight

Click on any photo for a larger view.

Willet On the Shore

Although I have seen a Willet in flight it is more common to see them walking the shore, poking the surf and sand for food.

Willet
Willet patrolling the shore

I didn’t see where he captured this fish but he took it to a wide open expanse of beach to consume it, alone. It’s size slowed him down. Just swallowing it wasn’t an option.

Willet
Willet with a good sized catch

The pools left by the falling tide attract the Willets. Calmer than the ocean surf they often are a concentrated food source as the water drains away.

Willet
Willet in a beach pool

They will completely immerse their heads looking for food, tipping like a bobbing garden ornament.

Willet Dunking his Head
Willet Dunking his Head

More of the Peeps

We’ve been to the beach a lot lately to see the Dolphins and Black Skimmers. The sandpipers go about their business in and around whatever else is going on, usually at the edge of the water.

Shorebird Peep
Shorebird – click on photo for larger view

Sometimes they are happy to forage around the bumps and undulations of dried sand left as the tide goes out. Whatever they are looking for must be tiny as you hardly ever see what they find to eat.

Shorebird Peep
Shorebird – click on photo for larger view

 

Willet in Flight

Willits are one of the shorebirds that poke around at the edge of the shore or at the edges of small ponds and inlets along the ocean. They look pretty drab until they take flight.

Willet in Flight
Willet in Flight

The distinguished white and black stripes that show on their wings set them apart from the Dowitchers and Yellowlegs.

Willet in Flight
Willet in Flight

This one came to shore where I was waiting for Dolphins and headed for a pool left on the beach by the falling tide.

Willet in Flight
Willet in Flight

Click on any photo for larger view.

Black Skimmers Coming In

Black Skimmers by the hundreds flew down the beach and landed on a sand bar exposed by the low tide.

Black Skimmer Flock
Black Skimmer Flock – a few Gulls and Terns joined in

There were so many birds it was hard to chose where to photograph.

Black Skimmer Flock
Black Skimmer Flock

As the tide covered their original landing place they lifted off in groups and circled around to another appealing spot.

Black Skimmer Flock
Black Skimmer Flock Coming at me.

We had the good fortune to watch this for over an hour until we were driven out by the incoming tide.

Black Skimmer Flock
Black Skimmer Flock Going away from me

Black Skimmer: You Are In My Space

A huge flock of Black Skimmers came in to the edge of the beach at low tide. These few had separated from the group and appeared to want to rest but just couldn’t leave each other alone.

Black Skimmers
Black Skimmers

“Akkk, I’ve been goosed!”

Black Skimmers
Black Skimmers

Indignant, he moved off without looking back.

Black Skimmers
Black Skimmers

You can see the Skimmers’ unique bill clearly in this photo: the lower mandible is longer than the upper. They feed by skimming over the water dragging the lower bill in the water picking up fish.

Black Skimmers
Black Skimmers

Click on any photo for larger view.

 

One of the Peeps

Sanderlings, Sandpipers, Peeps…a confusing lot of similarly sized and colored shore birds according to Cornell’s All About Birds. They are fun to watch as they zip along the water’s edge poking the sand for food.

Small Shore Bird
Small Shore Bird

This peep was on his own. He had a buddy when I first spotted him but he flew up the beach.

Small Shore Bird
Small Shore Bird

They are easy to overlook because of their small size and their brown feathers blend them into the sand

Small Shore Bird
Small Shore Bird

The reflection of the sun in the wet sand made a nice color backdrop when he went closer to the water.

Small Shore Bird
Small Shore Bird