Denise Goldberg's blog

Sunday, March 27, 2011

On a beach soon to be owned by birds

The beach at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge closes on April 1st. It will remain closed until the piping plover nesting season is over. That could be July, it could be August - it's up to the birds!

Since this is the last weekend the beach is available for human walking I just had to visit for a long beach walk. I was hoping to convince some birds to pose for my camera too.

The air was somewhat crisp - just 40 degrees, with the wind gusting from 21 to 31 miles per hour. I didn't realize how strong the wind was until I turned back, heading directly into the wind for my return trip.

Usually I spend some time on the inland side of the island too, but today was devoted entirely to the ocean side. It was low tide and the ocean was relatively quiet as I started heading south, wandering in a not-quite-straight-line in an attempt to keep my feet dry. There were streams of water draining to the ocean, sometimes narrow enough to step over, sometimes needing to head inland plus backtrack a bit to find some drier sand.

I was hoping for a bird-decorated beach. No birds, just the sounds of a relatively calm ocean. I walked, and I walked, and... hey! I think I see some birds! There were a couple of sea gulls walking in the water. Then I saw a flock of small birds, skittering, running together, turning, heading in the opposite direction, pecking at the sand, probably finding interesting things to eat, skittering... I moved a bit closer, stood still, watched. I moved forward slowly, stopped again, moved, stopped. I have no idea how long I stood there, fascinated by the movement of the birds. I think they were sanderlings, a small member of the sandpiper family.

It was definitely a good beach walk day.

a gaggle of sanderlings, skittering

a sanderling balancing act

More photos can be seen in my gallery Parker River wonders - 2011, starting with this photo and ending here.