Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sweet little Sanderlings chasing the waves...

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!

Beak Bit
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...

37 comments:

holdingmoments said...

Superb captures Kelly. They really are smashing little birds. I watched these for ages on a recent trip to the coast. Love the way they run up and down with the waves.

Chris said...

hi kelly,
Wow these are superb pictures. i lvoet hese low angle-type pictures but you probably know that already ;-)
The last one is mya favorite... I likve the way it's standing!! There are still not back over here, we only have purple sandpipers for the moment!!

The Early Birder said...

Lovely captures Kelly in the soft, low morning light of the 'clockwork' wader as it dashes up and down the waters edge. FAB.

How close where you able to get to take these super pics?

Laure Ferlita said...

Beautiful shots, Kelly! Especially love the rosy golden glow on the birds from the early morning light.

grammie g said...

The reflection in the water is what I really like no matter what is the subject!! These photos have captured this bird so well!!

Greener Bangalore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greener Bangalore said...

Beautiful early morning shots!.....just wondering how you took the last one.......did you lay flat on the ground Kelly ?

Montanagirl said...

Wonderful photos, Kelly. I always love the reflection shots. The soft light adds just the right ambiance.

Tim Rucci said...

Cool shots, Kelly... Love those reflections.
Remembering that you just visited Sarasota, I pointed someone to your blog who asked me if I knew anything about the Celery Fields in Sarasota. I had never heard of it but wondered if maybe you visited the place while you were there, since it is apparently a pretty well known birding area.

Roy said...

Great shots, Kelly! And you've reminded me that I need to amble over to Sachuest Beach some morning soon to do a check for the Piping Plovers.

Kelly said...

Keith....thank you! I could watch them all day too. One day I did while reading in the sand near the ocean's edge.

Chris..."only" Purple Sandpipers! You're lucky there. I've never seen one. I need to put it my list...

Frank...I was pretty close, probably less than 12-15 feet. The Florida birds would come right up to me. Timid is not part of their personalities!

Laure...thank you. I loved that glow too. You can see by the last photo the sun had risen enough to take it away. (Being a nightowl I don't often see that rosy glow. I'm going to have to change my ways because that morning light is pretty cool....although short-lived.

Grammie G...I love that reflection too. It was so clear in the angled light. As the sun rose higher the reflection faded.

Greener Bangalore...I lay on the ground a lot to take photos, but not for that one. I went really deep into a yoga squat and was able to bring the camera almost as low as if I were laying in the sand. Being a yoga teacher comes in handy a lot when photographing some of the birds!

Thanks, Mona. I love them too.

Tim...yes, she wrote me. I told her to go by all means. I read all about the Celery Fields and was going to go, but it fell through that day, but it's okay. Rick, Matty and I are going back next year the same week. The Celery Fields and Myakka are first on my list.

Kelly said...

Roy.....thanks! I'd love to see those cute little Piping Plovers. I hope you get some shots...

Warren Baker said...

Very nice photo's Kelly. Your getting to be quite the expert with your camera! :-)

Baby Birder said...

Kelly, I was in florida nearly the same time as you, and very close, in Venice! It is amazing the birding available in the sarasota/venice area, and the number of experts around there! One place I never miss when I'm down there is the Venice Rookery, which is about a half hour south of Longboat/Sarasota.

http://www.veniceaudubon.org/rookery.html

There is a pair of Great Horned Owls nesting in the radio tower above the police barracks the rookery is behind, in addition to Anhingas, multiple types of Herons and Egrets nesting in the rookery. Venice has a small airport with a pair of Bald Eagles nesting there, but not nearly as close as the ones you saw! Very cool!

The Abbot said...

Love the Sanderlings. Great photographs.

Elaine said...

Kelly, these shots are delightful! I love the reflection shots, and that last one is just gorgeous.

NatureFootstep said...

you really got some great photos here. With that mirrors in the water and all.

Hilke Breder said...

Nice set of photographs: beautiful light and setting, and I love the reflections in the spiegelglattem water. I never knew about the lack of a hind toe.

Kelly said...

Warren...thank you!! But the cool look to these photos all go to the morning sun. It truly is enough to change my nightowl ways...

Baby Birder.....thank you for the link. Next year we're going back so I'll be sure to check it out. I read all about it, and Rick has a tour there too. I can't wait. I did get to see a baby Great Horned Owl on the trip. I'll have photos of him in a few days. He was incredibly cute...

Thank you, Abbot!!!

Thanks, Elaine. First time I ever photographed such lovely reflections. The water over the sand almost looks silky. I want to go back again to see more!!!

Nature....thank you! The water really was as smooth as glass and reflected as well as a mirror!

Hilke....thank you! We couldn't get a better example of spiegelglatt (I just love the way that word sounds!!).

Jenny said...

Stunning shots Kelly with beautiful light. You really must've been chuffed after taking these! Why do some birds take almost no notice of us and others spook if you so much as look at them!?!?

Tammie Lee said...

my goodness, those fantastic reflections mixed with perfect warm light make for exquisite photography!
I had to chuckle when I read: Cool!, about the pellets.

Chris Petrak said...

Kelly, I am catching up on my blog reading. Your recent photos are stunning - sanderling peaceful and evocative of the personality, the eagles - just wow! - and the nuthatch. And that's not to forget some of the downy pics - good photography, good selections, good eye!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great pictures (especially the reflections) of the Sanderlings, Kelly....

Have a great weekend.
Hugs,
Betsy

E said...

Wonderful, Kelly, great pics with stories.
Glad you had a great time.
Hugs,

Elva Paulson said...

Wonderful sanderling photos. You take great bird photos ....

Abraham said...

Never knew about them swallowing those things whole.

The photos are excellent as usual.

Roy said...

Great images Kelly, one of my favourite birds.

Matt Latham said...

Lovely images Kelly. These are one of my favourite birds.

Jayne said...

I love these photos with the beautiful reflections Kelly. The light was perfect, and you captured the essence of the bird.

Elizabeth Smith said...

Amazing photos, simply amazing! Being somewhat new to birding, i didn't know that about the Sanderling's back toes...you always post suuch interesting and useful information!

gwendolen said...

Wow, fantastic photos Kelly.

Diane said...

Kelly - sweet pictures and makes me a little homesick for the days I lived there. Very Florida like!
Aunt Diane

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Sand pipers are some of my favorite birds, and I love to watch them racing the tide. These pictures are darling. I can almost hear the ocean.

Cherrie said...

What a beautiful sight!

hottestgamesonthemarket said...

Amazing capture! What a beautiful bird!

mick said...

Hi Kelly, I've been catching up on some of your posts and must comment on these Sanderling. Great photo captures and I love the look of the water. We see Sanderling down here (in Australia) when they migrate south for our summer.

Delwyn said...

Hello Kelly

your images are superb. I have been holidaying in Kauai Hawaii and was snapping the little birds in the waves, not knowing what they were. I think they are probably your sanderlings. I am going back to my photos to see if they have any back toe!

I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful craftsmanship.

Happy days