Tag Archives: Treasure Coast

Sanderling walk

img_4704

What bird is this?

I parked at Santa Lucea Beach on Hutchinson Island and walked south around 1 p.m. yesterday.

img_4705

A sandpiper doing that sandpiper thing.

img_4709

Sandpiper sees seashell down by the seashore.

img_4714

This was a Sanderling, I discovered.

img_4723

Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Sanderling:

The Sanderling’s black legs blur as it runs back and forth on the beach, picking or probing for tiny prey in the wet sand left by receding waves. Sanderlings are medium-sized “peep” sandpipers recognizable by their pale nonbreeding plumage, black legs and bill, and obsessive wave-chasing habits.

img_4728

Hard not to sift and sort through all these pretty shells, but I didn’t want to fill my pockets and I did want to find some birds.

The strange rocks along this Treasure Coast beach are part of the Anastasia Formation. It is “is composed of interbedded sands and coquina limestones. The formation is an orangish brown, soft to moderately hard, coquina of whole and fragmented mollusk shells within sand often cemented by sparry calcite.”

img_4731

Just out past the breakers, a man in a boat. Not a calm day, but it seems it is often breezy and rough offshore here. Keep going straight east out past that boat and you’d get to the northernmost island in the Bahamas, Walker Cay, about 100 miles out into the Atlantic, I’d guess.

img_4736

Dead crab. Pretty colors.

img_4744

A Magnificent Frigatebird flew north past me.

A long-winged, fork-tailed bird of tropical oceans, the Magnificent Frigatebird is an agile flier that snatches food off the surface of the ocean and steals food from other birds.

img_4747

Coming out of an incomplete swooping dive.

img_4759

I saw five or six Sanderlings on my walk, all of them alone.

Audubon Field Guide, Sanderling Diet:

Mostly sand crabs and other invertebrates. Feeds on a wide variety of small creatures on beach, including sand crabs, amphipods, isopods, insects, marine worms, small mollusks; also may eat some carrion. Wintering birds on southern coasts may eat corn chips and other junk food left by people. In spring, may feed heavily on eggs of horseshoe crab. On tundra, feeds mostly on flies and other insects, also some seeds, algae, and leaves.

img_4766

Okay, I did pick up the pink one.

img_4770

The beach was not a busy place on a cloudy Thursday in December.

img_4784

Cornell Lab: “The Sanderling is one of the world’s most widespread shorebirds. Though they nest only in the High Arctic, in fall and winter you can find them on nearly all temperate and tropical sandy beaches throughout the world.”

img_4787

Sweet solitary Sanderling stands still on Anastasia rock.

A Sanderling is a movie star. Audubon.org: Behind the Scenes of Piper, Pixar’s New Short Film

Sanderlings spend a lot of time in the ocean, scuttling in and out of the water in search of tiny invertebrates buried in the sand. Even downy hatchlings must immediately learn to fend for themselves and feed between unrelenting waves. So the last thing any Sanderling needs is a crippling phobia of the ocean. But such is the lot of the young heroine in Pixar’s newest short, Piper. Directed by Alan Barillaro, the six-minute film preceding Finding Dory concerns the trials of a young chick as she conquers her natural habitat, and greatest fear.

The idea came to Barillaro during his morning jogs in the Bay Area, where he would see hordes of the little speckled birds scampering to feed amidst giant kelp, resembling little wind-up toys. He found this collective feeding frenzy charming, but he couldn’t quite shake his impression that these shorebirds were afraid of, well, the shore.
To create Piper, Barillaro and his entire team entered the Sanderlings’ world. They spent weekends on beaches all over the Bay Area, meeting at 5 a.m. on a dusty road under a bridge in search of the birds. “Half of us were chasing around different beaches and calling each other on cell phones until we found a flock we could get close to,” Barillaro says. “It became this treasure hunt.”

 

First morning in Florida

img_4649

Brown Pelican above the Indian River Lagoon. As you can see, we’re not in New Hampshire anymore.

Yesterday was our first full day in our new home, a little green concrete-block-and-stucco house built in 1969. So much to do, boxes everywhere, but I made time for a morning bird walk.

img_4581

I tried for a couple of years to get a good shot of a Belted Kingfisher. We used to see one or two at our pond in warmer (no ice) months. They were flighty little alarmists there. Here one is posed nicely, almost mellowly!, in sunshine on a bridge railing.

img_4589

The Ernest Lyons Bridge connects our new hometown of Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island, a barrier island on the Atlantic Coast. The area near the west side of the bridge has lot of Ospreys. First you hear them, with their high, piercing, almost plaintive whistles.

img_4592

Then you seen them fishing, or looking for fish.

img_4620

Unique among North American raptors for its diet of live fish and ability to dive into water to catch them, Ospreys are common sights soaring over shorelines, patrolling waterways, and standing on their huge stick nests, white heads gleaming. These large, rangy hawks do well around humans and have rebounded in numbers following the ban on the pesticide DDT. Hunting Ospreys are a picture of concentration, diving with feet outstretched and yellow eyes sighting straight along their talons.

img_4630

Osprey on the bridge railing, doing well among humans.

img_4647

We visited this area in April, July and September and I always see ospreys here. In New Hampshire they were migratory. Looks like we can enjoy them year-round in Florida, woohoo!..

pand_hali_allam_map

Ospreys are unusual among hawks in possessing a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp with two toes in front and two behind. Barbed pads on the soles of the birds’ feet help them grip slippery fish. When flying with prey, an Osprey lines up its catch head first for less wind resistance.

img_4652

Wonder what that fish is thinking.