Early morning Sanderlings

20160430-img_0180 If you want to see birds, you have to wake with the birds. Especially if you're on a very popular beach like the one in St. Pete Beach, FL. You're bound to see shorebirds anyway, but if you want VIP access, hit the beach before all the children and sun-bathers for a nice walk (with your binoculars and camera that you carry everywhere because you MUST bird every location).

Sanderlings are some of the most beautiful migratory shorebirds you'll have the pleasure of watching. From a distance, they might look a bit drab skittering across the surf in search of insects and mollusks but they're actually quite colorful when you zoom in. Have a look.

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Sanderlings are extreme migrators! They breed on land in the northernmost locations that exist on our planet (including the tip-top of Russia, Greenland, Canada and Alaska). During the winter they surround the coasts of just about every continent. You'd be hard pressed to travel somewhere with a beach that didn't play host to Sanderlings.

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Come back Wednesday for more Florida wildlife. Reptiles this time!

Somebody needs a GPS

I found an interesting specimen whilst quickly perusing the banks of Quidi Vidi Lake this afternoon. He or she is pretty far north, even for migration according to both of my most trusted field guides. An American Coot! The American Coot is not a rare species in North America but it isn't seen as often in Newfoundland as it is everywhere else. It looked pretty natural swimming among the Mallards and the Northern Pintail until I noticed the short, round little bum bobbing like a cork and said Hey, one of these things is not like the others.

By the way, my favorite field guide both in general and for North America is The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley. I love everything about it. I love the illustrations, the layout and the fact that it is both a thorough reference and not too heavy (some will disagree) to carry while birdwatching. This is what it looks like:

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The other field guide that I use often is The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Donald and Lillian Stokes. I like this one because it uses photos instead of illustrations so that if you just can't decipher your bird with Sibley's, you can have a look at a real picture of the bird. I highly recommend both guides.

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As an end note, I'll leave you with the list of birds I saw at QV in the half hour I was there:

American Coot, Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon), Greater Scaup, American Black Duck, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Black-headed Gull (first time I've ever seen them!), Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Great Cormorant (a juvenile by himself diving for fish, maybe my favorite find today).

 

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