A Sanderling waits for a wave to sweep past it on Captiva Island, March 22, 2011.
The following excerpt by Peter Matthiessen from "The Wind Birds" captures the heart of a Sanderling so well (taken from "The Bedside Book of Birds--an Avian Miscellany," by Graeme Gibson. This book is a collection of bird stories, art, and poetry that I love.)
"The sanderling is the white sandpiper or "peep" of the summer beaches, the tireless toy bird that runs before the surf. Because of the bold role it plays in its immense surroundings, it is the one sandpiper that most people have noticed. Yet how few notice it at all, and few of the fewer still who recognize it will ever ask themselves why it is there or where it might be going. We stand there heedless of an extraordinary accomplishment: the diminutive creature making way for us along the beaches of July may be returning from an annual spring voyage which took it from central chile to nesting grounds in northeast Greenland, a distance of 8,000 miles. One has only to consider the life force packed tight into that puff of feathers to lay the mind wide open to the mysteries--the order of things, the why and the beginning."