Sanderlings probing the beach for food in unison. Rosemary Beach, Florida, USA.

Sanderlings probing the beach for food in unison. Rosemary Beach, Florida, USA. Photo © Tom Bland.

Our recent visit to Florida’s ‘Emerald Coast’ was a nice opportunity to change up the birds that we see on a daily basis at home in New Jersey. Now I love chickadees and juncos as much as the next guy but with spring taking its time to arrive this year I was ready to see some different species. Following my previous post about the cedar waxwings (which were a real treat for me) here is what I think is our comprehensive list of all the birds we spotted on the panhandle:

Ospreys, laughing gulls, cedar waxwings, house finch, mockingbirds, northern cardinals, brown pelicans, blue jays, starlings, unidentified stork, sanderlings, carolina chickadee, yellow-rumped warbler, northern parulas, red-shouldered hawk, common grackles, red-bellied woodpecker, possible swallow-tailed kite, house sparrows, possible willet or whimbrel, mourning doves, northern flickr, unidentified swallows, unidentified swifts, turkey vultures.

The photograph you see here of the Sanderlings really feels like it captures the personality of these funny little birds. Their behaviour is always interesting to watch as they dodge the waves that wash up and then chase them out again to plunge their beaks into the sand as quickly as they can. At times you can just sit still on a beach and wait for them to walk right past you, though more often than not they’ll get the jitters and run back the other way or fly around you. I was lucky with the arrangement of the Sanderlings here – and for once my lack of a powerful telephoto lens was not a hindrance as I think this photograph works due to its wider composition – the lines of the incoming wave, the Sanderlings, and the wet sand.


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