Birding Longboat Key, Florida…continued from yesterday’s eaglet post.
From the eagle’s nest, we headed over to the ocean and immediately found a little flock of Sanderlings foraging for their breakfast in the receding waves. The sun was still low on the horizon, so the morning light stretching down the beach was soft and rosy and made these little birds glow against the dark, wet sand.
Probing the sand for invertebrates washed in with the surf, this little fellow soon nabbed a tiny mollusk as the waves retreated.
Sanderlings certainly work for a living by constantly running away from the waves as they roll in and then chasing them back to the sea as they roll out. Who can resist those little black feet as they pad along in quick motion?? They are just so cute! Several of my guides mention that Sanderlings are the only sandpipers that lack a hind toe. This photo clearly shows, no back toes on those feet!
The soft morning light highlighted his reflection as the water skimmed back to the ocean's edge. One of my favorite German words, "spiegelglatt" (mirror smooth), fits perfectly.
A very efficient Sanderling, this guy plucked tidbits from the sand every time the waves retreated.
What a cute mug. I don't know why, but he makes me think of a sad little puppy with a wet, black nose!
These little guys may be cute, but they are powerhouses too, flying up to 8,000 miles to return to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. During the winter, they spread out all over the globe, spending time on sandy beaches on almost every continent in the world! ....and this is interesting....I read on Cornell's Birds of North America Online site, that Sanderlings regurgitate pellets made up of a mixture of sand with crushed crustacean and mollusk shells. Cool! When I was watching them pluck those little mollusks from the sand and swallow them whole I wondered what happened to the shell...