Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

My New Buddies: Sandpipers

Several species of sandpiper in flight.

This is the first time that I have spent time with the dainty sandpipers. They are delicate little feather puffs, and make tiny peeping sounds as they work the winrow of seaweed and wood bits pushed up by the tide. Those vocalizations gave the small sandpipers their nickname: peeps. Their long beaks probe and pick up amphipods, also called sand fleas or sand hoppers, and other small bits of food.

The dark legs, tiny size, and long, slightly down-curved beak suggest that this is a Western sandpiper (Calidris mauri).

There must be a really tasty morsel under there!

Now I could claim that I used some photographer prowess and a gigantic lens to take pictures of these cautious and tiny birds, but it would be a lie. I sat down and let the tide come in, bringing the birds with it. The birds got used to me sitting quietly, clicking now and then, and may have actually used me for cover.

The sandpipers kept an alert eye on the sky. When a raven flew anywhere near them they took flight until the corvid left.

The sandpipers tilted their heads often, watching the sky for predatory birds.

Sandpipers, brown side.

Sandpipers, white side. Hmmm, reminds me of Halibut.

But when the birds got close to me the ravens didn't fly over as much. Humans may be a source of picnic crumbs for ravens to lunch on, but wild country ravens usually keep their distance until the people leave. City ravens are a different bird, aren't they?

Once an immature bald eagle flew over and that was not cool with the sandpipers at all.

E-ew, it must be just about molting time. That eagle is looking pretty ratty.

Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)

The sandpipers became comfortable enough to nap and preen right in front of me. Some of the sandpiper species are among the birds able to sleep with half of their brain at a time. These guys really can sleep with one eye open.

Sandpiper napping with one eye open.

There was a semipalmated plover hanging with the sandpipers. The plover took about an hour longer to get used to this big, clicking creature sitting on the beach.

Semipalmated plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) and two sandpipers.

This took place at Memorial Beach on the north end of Prince of Wales Island - one of my fave places in the whole wide world. There's no limit on favorite places right?

Memorial Beach on the north end of Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.

Down the beach there was another flock, and they were flying more often. I wandered down there to visit.

A Western Sandpiper among the larger Dunlins.

Dunlins, also called red-backed sandpipers, were mixed with the peeps in that flock.

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

 Here's some more images of my little buddies. I hope that you enjoy them.

May your day take flight!

Alaska Beachcomber

There are lots more bird posts in the Alaskan Critters index!

More on Memorial Beach on Prince of Wales Island: