Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Turkey Day!

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Wild Turkey
"As God as my witness, I thought Turkeys could fly," said Mr. Carlson in my favorite episode of the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati.  And while domesticated turkeys can't fly, Wild Turkeys can.  They can fly quite well, though they fly low to the ground and usually for no more than a quarter mile.

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Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey's are pretty common here in Central Florida, and they can be found in just about any rural area, especially where there are both mature trees and open grassy areas. Their range has been shrinking, however, due to hunting and habitat loss. Our Florida Wild Turkeys (or Osceola Wild Turkeys) number 80-100,000 and are smaller and darker than the Easterns found farther north. Wild Turkeys are omnivorous, and they may eat nuts and seeds as well as amphibians and small reptiles.

Central Winds Park
Wild Turkey
I often see Turkeys in family groups ranging from 3 to 9 individuals.  When I see them, I always have to stop and watch.  Benjamin Franklin reportedly preferred to have the Wild Turkey symbolize the U.s. than the Bald Eagle.  Since eagles are bullies, thieves and cowards, he thought we would be better off with the brave and noble Turkey as the national bird. He wrote:

For in Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on. Benjamin Franklin

Central Winds Park
Wild Turkey
Central Winds Park
Wild Turkey
So Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New Mexico Trip Report

November 24, 2013

 I am sharing somewhat of a trip report from my vacation to New Mexico October 19-26th.

After a tense time worrying about the Government shutdown, hubby and I enjoyed a week long trip and loop around Southern New Mexico. Dear hubby the spelunker’s main attraction was seeing the Carlsbad Cavern’s National Park. For me any vacation is a chance to see new birds. Before leaving, I spent a fun time searching the internet and using Ebird to find all the best spots for birding.  I had target birds chosen and places to see them.

I found birding spots all along our loop starting with Bitter Lake NWR near sighting of an American Bittern, Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese and a Loggerhead Shrike.

 At Carlsbad Caverns Nat’l Park I found some birds around the visitor center, Rattlesnake Springs and at the Living Desert Zoo. It at these places I found my life birds the Cave Swallows, Lark Bunting, a Canyon Towhee and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

Guadalupe Mountains Nat’l Park was were I found the Sage Thrasher lifer. At this park I saw lots of Chipping Sparrrows, another Canyon Towhee,  House Finches and the Red-shafted Flickers were pretty common.

Caballo State Park first sighting of the Roadrunner and at Elephant Butte State Park I found my lifers the Western Grebe, Say’s Phoebe, Red-Naped Sapsucker and the Black Phoebe. Other birds seen were the Townsend's Solitaire, American Robin, House Wren, GB Heron, Rock Wren and a Red-tailed Hawk.

Bosque Del Apache NWR was great for the Roadrunner, Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese and also for my lifer the Gambel’s Quail. Other birds seen were the Marsh Wren, Northern Harrier, Killdeer and White-Crowned Sparrows.

On the second morning at the Bosque Del Apache NWR  we saw more of the Sandhill Cranes, Sora, Snow Geese, lots of ducks like the Green-winged Teal and Pintails, Red-winged Blackbirds and a few White-faced ibis. Another life bird was the Lesser Goldfinch. I am pretty sure I see an American Wigeon in the bottom right.

 The Greater Roadrunner has been on my top ten list of most want to see birds. I was very happy to see the Roadrunner a few times during our vacation.

A quickie stop at the Belen Marsh...a couple of White-faced Ibis with some ducks.

Rio Grande Nature Center & State park is a pretty park which gorgeous Cottonwood trees.  We arrived later in the afternoon so I considered myself lucky to see any birds at this time of day. But we found a GB Heron, Canada Geese, Coots, Eared Grebe, Junco, Black-capped Chickadee, White breasted Nuthatch and a Spotted Towhee and lots of House Finches.

My New Mexico Lifers:
Black Phoebe
Canyon Towhee
Cave Swallow
Gambel's Quail
Greater Roadrunner
Ladder-Backed Woodpecker
Lark Bunting
Least Sandpiper
Lesser Goldfinch
Red-Naped Sapsucker
Sage Thrasher
Say's Phoebe
Western Grebe

I do have to admit, it was a tough time with id-ing some of the birds. I did have to ask for some help from the Facebook id group. Between seeing the first year birds, female and migrating birds and winter birds, it was a little confusing at times. The female Lark Bunting and the Canyon Towhee were the hardest birds for me to id.  I could have spent a couple of weeks birding New Mexico. So, I am happy to share some of the birds I saw and my 14 lifers from our vacation.

Thanks for visiting my post, I hope you enjoyed seeing my New Mexico birds.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Some favorite winter birds

The weather can't seem to make up its mind here in SW Ohio, as we have had our first snowfall of the season as well as a late November round of severe weather including tornado warnings.  With the weather swings, I was hoping something rare would show, but the birding has slowed down at my local haunts.  What is cool about birding is that you don't need to see rarities to have fun.  I have been enjoying some of my favorite winter birds.

If one comes across poison ivy berries this time of year, it is always worth waiting around a while to see what will come in to feast.  This year there seems to be a huge amount of Yellow-rumped Warblers overwintering.  I have had about 30 or so in my yard for a week now.  They love poison ivy!

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warber

Chowing down

Terrible lighting Yellow-rumped Warbler eating poison ivy berry

All the activity around the ivy has also drawn in other birds that were not interested in eating the ivy berries.  I love this Field Sparrow's look and pose.

Field Sparrow

Nearby, there was a good deal of birds.  I heard a Brown Creeper and turned around to find one.  I just starting pushing the shutter button, not even looking at the bird as I had lost him.  I was lucky to get a good shot of one.  Love this bird. 

Brown Creeper

Who doesn't love a creeper?

Another favorite winter bird that I got lucky to find the same day was this cute little Winter Wren.  I stood still and the bird just walked through the brush not a few feet from my feet!

Winter Wren

It was like it was playing hide n' seek with me.

Can you see the Winter Wren?

Golden-crowned Kinglets were flying around high above, they are always hard to get a good shot of.  Here is one just hanging out.  I like the color in this picture, I call it upside down in a sticky situation.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Another one of my favorite birds to run across on a cold winter day is the White-crowned Sparrow.  I remember seeing this bird in my yard when I was young and wondering what it was.  While not considered my spark bird, this bird had a lot to do with my interest in birds at a young age.  

White Crowned Sparrow

Talking about color!  A royal sparrow it is.  Just look at that face.

White Crowned Sparrow

It appears that a good deal of the rarer gulls and ducks are still up north.  As I write this, it is fairly mild with south winds.  This weekend is supposed to harbor low temps in the teens with highs in the twenties, so maybe some will move south soon.  Even though it is mild I did find a penguin on the beach at East Fork.  I saw this thing from afar through my binos, thought what is that?


A kids toy.  One never knows what you may find on the beach at East Fork.


On my way back from birding East Fork the other day, I stumbled across a mixed flock of blackbirds in a wet field at the end of my road.  It had a good variety of species.  I was able to pick out Rusty, Red-winged, Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird and European Starling.  Then I spotted something white.  It was a leucistic blackbird.

Leucistic blackbird

Leucistic blackbird

I am thinking Red-winged or cowbird.  

I am hoping to be able to find some winter owls this winter.  I haven't seen a Saw-whet Owl outside of a banding operation in a long while.  Same goes for Long-eared.  I would also like to run across good views of Short-eared again.  This will be a hard goal to achieve.  Until I find some of the northern owls, I will enjoy the locals.  I spotted this little Eastern Screech-owl sitting in a tree as I was getting in my car at East Fork the other day.  This picture was taken out the car window.  If you look closely, you can see the whiskers (rictal bristles) and the cute little talons.

Eastern Screech-owl profile

Make sure you get out and enjoy the birds that are around you and try to take someone new birding or especially a young person.  Remember to always have fun!

Friday, November 15, 2013

All These Mind Blowing Birds and Learning To Draw Them Too!

Guest post by Poo Wright-Pulliam, Birder and Bird Artist. Poo will be the Artist/Birder in Residence on the March 2014 birding tour in Costa Rica with Majestic Feathers.

Blue-throated Toucanet in Costa Rica. Photo by Kathleen Cameron 

In the winter of 1996 a little bird landed at my feeder, I couldn’t find it in any of my bird books so a friend suggested I draw it to help me identify it. With an artist’s background I was able to put down every little detail, right to the gray on the side of the neck. She also called Gary Stitzinger for me and told him I had a “mountain accentor” at my feeder…his reply “Oh sure, maybe if she lived in Attu!” But he did come over when he got off of work that evening, just a little too late to see the bird unfortunately, but I showed him my drawing. He looked at it, stunned. “This is the bird that was at your feeder?” “Yes” I said. He repeated himself…I repeated myself. He repeated himself again…as did I, “yes, that is why I drew it.” Gary has birded for years and I remember at that time he was almost at 600 species on his life list. Now both very excited, we waited at the window till dark but alas, to no avail.

An article about Poo's amazing lower 48 second record of Siberian Accentor was in the ABA Journal in December of 1996 and included her original art, drawn from life in her yard.  Illustration copyright Poo Wright-Pulliam.

The next morning I had three local birders standing at my window as the sun came up on my feeders. Once again the little bird with the buffy-colored eyebrow was a no show. I had also taken photos of this little darling; it took two days to get them back (the digital age had not yet arrived, overnight photos were the best that could be done). Twelve pictures were now additional proof that this new birder was not crazy. And the hunt was on as Gary and other local bird watchers started “cruising” the neighborhoods looking for flocks of small birds. At just about any given time I could look out my front window to see one of their now familiar cars creeping slowly up or down our street, binoculars at the ready. It took one full week before the bird was found again, but find it they did. Don Morgan found it about a quarter of a mile from my home, closer to the Big Wood River in habitat more to its liking. Now confirmed, my calls to the Rare Bird Hotline were no longer ignored, I was amazed that my drawing had been good enough to spark excitement in such an experienced birder as Gary and I was astounded that he was now taking me, a novice, seriously. People from all across the country were booking flights or renting cars and making reservations at hotels in a mad dash to see this bird that many would never see in a lifetime. Over 1200 birders flocked to World Famous Sun Valley, but it wasn’t the movie stars they were chasing this time.

Poo Wright-Pulliam's life changing encounter with the Siberian Accentor is immortalized on her ankle.  Photo by Kathleen Cameron.

To this day I am so thankful that I learned the basics of sketching a bird and noting its field marks. It was eventually identified as the second record ever in the lower 48 States. The final defining field mark being the gray on the side of the neck. The Siberian Accentor (its updated AOU name) is a sparrow size bird that made its way to my yard in Central Idaho from Siberia; it should have been on its way to China…just a little off its mark. It stayed for 3 months while birders reveled in its beauty. That tiny bird and my drawing changed my life forever and I’ve been drawing or painting birds ever since.

Poo Wright-Pulliam with her Northern Goshawk painting that is on permanent display in the lobby of the Idaho Bird Observatory's office in Boise, Idaho.

Now, seventeen years later, I’ve been asked to be the Artist/Birder in Residence on my friend Kathleen Cameron’s Majestic Feathers Tour March 2014 trip to Costa Rica. I have never done an out of country bird tour before. Yes, I’ve been to Baja Sur, Mexico but it was not a birding tour, I snuck in birding every chance I could get but there were no other birders with me.

Carolyn and Judy enjoy birding and photography along the water's edge from a boat while on a Majestic Feathers tour.  Photo by Kathleen Cameron.

So I’ve been daydreaming about Costa Rica. Many of my friends have taken this trip and they all came back with wonderful stories and stunning photos. They told me about the beautiful hotels they stayed in and that they never worried about meals, everything was taken care of. The ride to each new adventure was spent in a comfortable van and that the guide, Edwin Ramirez, not only knew the birds, he also knew the plants, animals, insects and ecology of the country. This trip could be heaven for just about anybody. I imagine myself being breathless, awestruck in the beauty of the surroundings, wildlife and birds. Falling asleep each night to the sound of the forest and the myriad of birds, insects and mammals that reside there and waking up to the dawn chorus. I’ll draw furiously while I’m there and return with the best kind of souvenir, handmade by me, of memories I can’t even imagine.

A bird head close up watercolor by Poo Wright-Pulliam.

Teaching birders how to draw birds will also be very exciting. My ability to identify birds since I started sketching them has grown tremendously and this is a big reason that I encourage my fellow birders to add this skill to their birding repertoire. By learning what is underneath to be able to draw what is on top is something I learned in college, it is an invaluable bit of information that is even more important to me today and I will share this process with others on the trip. I feel that in learning field marks and how to look at a bird, then drawing it, commits it to memory. Trying to look at a bird and then thumbing through a book only gets confusing in the heat of discovery. Being able to use your drawing later when things are more relaxed is a much better way to identify these wonders of nature. Learning the inner workings of a bird and why they are structured the way they are will bring it all together. It will add a whole new dimension to an already amazing adventure. And you will come home with the best kind of souvenir too!

Edwin Ramirez guiding for an enthusiastic group of Majestic Feathers participants.  Photo by Kathleen Cameron.

It is going to be so much fun to bird and draw with you in Costa Rica! I hope you will join us on this very special tour.  See you there!

More Information about: Majestic Feathers in Costa Rica with Edwin Ramirez naturalist and bird guide and Artist Birder in Residence Poo Wright-Pulliam
This is a 14 day 13 night birding tour beginning on March 7 and ending on March 20, 2014. The price of this tour is $2,930 per person double occupancy from San Jose, Costa Rica.

Please visit the Majestic Feathers website to learn more about what is included in the price of this tour.
Please send an email to to reserve your space(s) on this unique birding tour or to ask questions. Please don’t hesitate to contact Majestic Feathers.  

Please note: The deadline for reserving space on this tour has been extended to 12/10/13

Please note that the order of the itinerary has changed since it was first published on the Majestic Feathers website.  The change in the order of the birding route in no way impacts the quality of this tour and our participants will still bird and explore 8 different life zones. On average, over 400 species of birds are seen on a 14 day tour.
Taking classes with Poo while on this tour is an excellent chance to greatly increase your skills in identifying birds because you will learn how to increase your powers of observation which leads quite naturally to improved identification skills. Learn this new skill while adding several hundred species to your life list! Classes with Poo are optional and will not take place during prime birding hours. 

For those of you that are on Facebook here is the link to Poo’s artist page:
Join Poo and Majestic Feathers in Costa and fulfill your tropical birding dreams!

Crimson-collared Tanager in Costa Rica. Photo by Kathleen Cameron.

Green Violet-ear in Costa Rica.  Photo by Kathleen Cameron.

Slaty-tailed Trogon in Costa Rica. Photo by Kathleen Cameron.

Where there is a Nemesis, there must also be a Hero

When flocks of bird nerds get together, they fill the air with stories and tails, discussions of past sightings, future sightings, ornithological taxonomical distinctions and splits, migrations, and all manner of other things that involve the esoteric jargon that comes with any serious past time. One of the more common idioms, one with which even the most casual or greenhorn birders are familiar, is the dreaded "Nemesis Bird." Some of the best birding stories, even the best birding blogs, have to do with the big misses relating to a Nemesis Bird, a bird one has repeatedly tried and failed to see. In many cases birders have multiple Nemesis Birds, and they may spend many years and dollars trying to find them. The Nemesis Bird weighs heavily on a birder's mind, influencing trips and confidence, determining whether or not one has a successful outing even quite apart from any other birds that are seen.

Of course, every good story needs some sort of adversary, some sort of challenge, and the Nemesis Bird, as a concept, holds a high place in the birding lexicon and identity. Inversely, I want to posit that there is another bird, the protagonist, who may often be under-appreciated, who is less often mentioned in the stories or put on the pedestal.
Enter the Hero Bird, the stoic, tragic characters(s) in many birders' lives, who saves one birding outing after another and may never get the full credit it is due--certainly none of the attention and hype that Nemesis Bird receives.

The Hero Bird is more difficult to define. It's the bird that makes the trip when the lifers or nemeses don't show. It's not so common that it's boring or blasé, but it's still a reliable and delightful find when it judiciously reveals itself. Deciding on one's Hero Bird is tricky, because the rarity if the birds must be taken into consideration as well as the other circumstances and frequency of the sightings.

For example, Cardinals are always a pleasure to see, but I doubt many people would identify a Cardinal as their Hero Bird because in most locales where they're seen, they're so common that they don't serve as a singular, standout sighting. The Hero Bird must allow great looks, better perhaps than one might expect, or better than one has heard of other birders having. The Hero Bird makes an otherwise mediocre trip, one without lifers or super sightings, into a fulfilling adventure. The Hero Bird is not necessarily rare, nor necessarily common, but it feels like a blessing every time it's seen. Like a comic book superhero, the Hero Bird doesn't appear all the time and save the day, but it shows up often enough, or in the most desperate of circumstances.

Trying to think of my own Hero Birds, at first I speculated it may be the Le Conte's Thrasher. This is an uncommon bird, one not widely distributed, and I've been able to find it every time I've tried, including several trips with out-of-state birders who've gotten in touch specifically to find that bird.
It's not a guaranteed sighting and it's a local specialty, but I've always had luck with the Le Conte's. However, I've never seen this Thrasher anywhere but in the little Thrasher spot out in Buckeye. While it's a reliable sighting, it will never show up to save the day, or at least it never has, when I've been birding elsewhere in Arizona. Le Conte's Thrasher, you are a great bird, but you are not my Hero.

As I thought about it more, I realized that I probably don't have the greatest Hero Birds, in part because I'm not a great birder and haven't gone on lots of great birding trips. Then, on further meditation, I realized that my two probably Hero Birds are indeed great. Bird names never lie or mislead, after all.
My two Hero Birds are the Great Horned Owl, and the Greater Roadrunner.

These birds are big and badass, but that alone doesn't seal the deal. Neither the Greater Roadrunner nor the Great Horned Owl are rarities, but I don't see them every time I go birding either--it's vitally important that a Hero Bird isn't overly available, or else all the mystique is lost. But when I see them, I tend to get very close up views and good photos.
I walked under this Great Horned Owl after spending hours trying to turn up a rare reported sparrow at the DBG. I had no luck with the rare bird, nor did anyone else I talked too, but the Great Horned made the trip absolutely worth it. This isn't the only time a GHO has shown up and saved a failed chase. Owls already have a lot going for them, and a visual always has a big impact. I'd venture that many people could find the Great Horned to be one of their Hero Birds. They combine awe and availability almost perfectly.

The Greater Roadrunner also happens to be one of my favorite birds. I feel satisfied with my photo collection of it, and have had some amazingly crushing views, including when a Roadrunner ran across my feet on a trail in east Phoenix, and also massacred a Mourning Dove chick mere feet away at the DBG (pictured below). Roadrunners aren't regarded as particularly skittish, but many is the birder I've spoken too who bemoans their lack of good, prolonged Roadrunner sightings. I've got 99 bird problems, but quality time with the Greater Roadrunner ain't one of them.

So, do you have a Hero Bird. What bird has given you almost undue, face-melting looks, on multiple occasions? What bird has shown up, time and again, when it seemed the morning was  over, the afternoon doldrums were setting in, and the birding trip was a bust?
For many birders, finding and conquering our Nemeses Birds are some of the most defining and memorable moments. Let us also recognize the Heroes.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sanderling - a "True" Sandpiper

I love the seashore and beach most of the year. I am not too keen about the seashore during the summer when the sun is melanoma producing, and the sand is littered with debris that has drifted from inland and is scattered in nearly naked lumps all over the place. But in the fall, winter, and spring that debris has been gathered up and returned to its city scape. Then the seashore beach  is in its elemental form. The rising and falling tides stir the sands, smoothing them at the water’s edge, constantly reshaping the sandbars and dunes, and often casting up the ocean’s debris.

Sanderlings (and a few Dunlin)
In late October, I walked some beaches in Cape May, New Jersey. The low sun of the waning day glared off the placid waves. My long shadow preceded me as I walked slowly along the wet sand, just out of the water’s reach. Another lone walker was far ahead, apparently more intent on exercise than I was; her pace widened the distance between us. I allowed the distance to grow greater as I stopped and watched tiny white shorebirds chasing the waves.

Sanderlings run from the waves
Their legs were a blur as they ran up the sand ahead of the waves. Then they reversed direction to chase the water as it receded - back and forth, like school yard children playing tag - or teasing a playful dog on a leash. The birds I watched were Sanderlings,  and they are one of the reasons I love the beach along the seashore.

Sanderlings are common along our seacoasts except from mid-June to mid-July. During that period they are north of the Arctic circle, breeding. They waste little time in that task and are soon back along our coasts, chasing the waves. If you see a sandpiper on a sandy beach going back and forth with the water, barely getting its feet wet, you are seeing a Sanderling.

Audubon knew this bird as the Sanderling Sandpiper. Somewhere along the line, the mavens of nomenclature decided this was redundant, and dropped “sandpiper” from its name. But the Sanderling is arguably the only “true” sandpiper.

Sanderling - "birds that peep on the sand"
The “piper” part of “sandpiper” seems to come from a word meaning “chirp,” or “peep,” hence sandpipers are “birds that chirp on the sand,” or “peep on the sand.” The Sanderling and its closest relatives (in the genus Calidris) are known among bird watchers as “peeps.”

The Sanderling (meaning “little bird of the sand”) is the only sandpiper which you will regularly find on sand - or sandy beaches. I went through the Kaufman guide for the habitats where we are most likely to see other Calidris sandpipers. Here’s what I found:

Least Sandpiper - edges of rivers, ponds, marshes
Semipalmated Sandpiper - mudflats
Western Sandpiper - open flats
Pectoral Sandpiper - grassy mudflats, flooded fields (the “grasspiper”)
White-rumped Sandpiper - flooded fields, marshy edges of mudflats
Baird’s Sandpiper - grassy mudflats, flooded fields
Buff-breasted Sandpiper - short-grass plains, plowed fields
Dunlin - mudflats
Red Knot - tidal flats, sandy beaches
Purple Sandpiper - rocky coastlines, jetties
Spotted and Solitary Sandpiper (not genus Calidris) - along creeks and ponds

Most of these sandpipers will rest and sleep on sandy flats. On northbound migration, they feed on horseshoe crab eggs buried in the sandy beaches of the Delaware Bay. But their usual, preferred place for foraging, and where they are most often seen by the watchers of shorebirds, is not the sandy beach. Most would be more accurately termed “mudpipers.” But don’t expect any name changes in the near, or even distant, future. There is no requirement for accuracy in a common bird name.

The Sanderling is the exception. The Sanderling is a bird of the sand. It sleeps on sandy flats and forages at water’s edge on sandy beaches. It is a true “bird on the sand that peeps.”

The Sanderling is common, and it is very tempting to see it along a sandy beach - say to oneself, “Sanderling,” and go on to look for something else. But they merit leisurely watching. I stood watching them as the waves broke, spray flying. They were masters of timing - probing the sand, then nimbly running up the slope ahead of the water - then racing the water back down to grab new morsels stirred by the water’s action.

I watched a dozen Sanderlings probing wet sand where the tide had ebbed. Something sent them flying further down the beach. I walked closer to where they had been probing. Tiny little holes dotted the wet sand, an inch apart in random lines. My feet barely left a mark on the hard, wet surface. The tiny feet of the Sanderlings left no mark at all. Had I not been watching, this series of holes in the sand would have posed a mystery, causing me to wonder what could have caused these neat, uniform holes in the sand. But I had seen the Sanderlings.

Foreground: Sanderling in breeding plumage in May
Background: Ruddy Turnstone

Most of the year when we encounter Sanderlings, we see them in winter plumage. Then they are white, or gray-white, pale and chunky little birds. In Spring they molt into breeding plumage, briefly sporting a rich, reddish brown on head and foreparts. The times of transition from one plumage to the next present an array of in-between appearances. But whatever the plumage, Sanderlings are most likely to be on the sandy beach chasing the receding waters and speeding from the incoming waves.

On that Cape May beach, the Sanderlings were frenetic in their feeding, but fairly calm with my presence. By slow degrees, I inched closer. I could see them probe with open beak, gulp some tiny delicacy, always mindful of where the water’s edge was, whether to hurry toward the ocean or away from it.

And then suddenly, the flock took flight. In an instant, sixty birds disappeared over the dunes. In the corner of my eye, I saw a dark form. Almost as quickly as I could lift my binoculars, the dark form had also disappeared beyond the dunes. I could only get a feel of pointed wings, but it was enough. Sanderlings were foraging along the shoreline in the late afternoon. So was the Merlin. I had watched Sanderlings ingesting energy against the chilly autumn night. And now I wondered if the Merlin, a falcon of the north, would also be feeding.

I can’t choose between the two, and have no right to do so anyway. So I wished the Sanderlings - and the Merlin - good luck and good feeding.

The seashore birding that late October afternoon was very good.

Sanderlings take flight
 Chris Petrak - Tails of Birding