Category Archives: Shore Birds

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

American Avocets in Flight

A flock of American Avocets flew above us at the edge of a marsh. Their long upturned bill provides an easy identification.

American Avocet
American Avocet

They seemed undecided about choosing a landing spot or just moving on.

American Avocet
American Avocet

They started to drop down into an open area in the marsh…

American Avocet
American Avocet

…then changed their minds.

American Avocet
American Avocet

One more turn around and then they headed out of sight.

American Avocet
American Avocet

Click on any photo for larger view. 

Yellowleg Battle

I don’t know what these two Yellowlegs were sparring about, but they were pretty serious. They repeated this dance in several spots at the edge of the pond. It might be a mating dance but in October in South Carolina that seems out of sync.

Yellowlegs Sparring
Yellowlegs Sparring

The contrast between the birds and the grassy background isn’t what I had hoped for but the action and their flight skills were fascinating. Click on any photo for a larger view.

Yellowlegs Sparring
Yellowlegs Sparring, taking turns in the air

I don’t usually include this many images in a post but wanted to show the whole sequence. If you have Javascript you can jump to the bottom of this post and view the images as a slideshow.

Yellowlegs Sparring
Yellowleg Faceoff
Yellowlegs Sparring
Yellowlegs grabbing beaks
Yellowlegs Sparring
Yellowleg dropping onto his foe from above
Yellowlegs Sparring
Yellowleg pushing his foe down; the lower bird got partially submerged  but I didn’t get the shot.
Yellowlegs Sparring
Yellowlegs setting up for another round
Yellowlegs Sparring
Yellowlegs in an elegant dance

Slide Show

If you have Javascript click on one of the photos below to view the photos as a slide show. If you don’t have Javascript you’ll see the photos repeated.

American Avocet

The colors and upturned bill makes the American Avocet an easy ID.

American Avocets

Getting a good photograph across the mud flats of this impoundment at Bear Island Wildlife Management area was another story.

American Avocet – click photo for larger view

This single one ventured closer to the edge, co-mingling with Plovers, Sanderlings, Willets and the other shore birds working the shallow water.

Shore Birds Working the Mud Flats

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, SC, 4/26/2017.