It was a glorious day to take a walk at Nauset Beach in Orleans on Cape Cod with warm temperatures and gusty winds. I walked quite a ways down the beach in a direction that I don’t usually go. It was so pretty.
On the way back I noticed what I thought was some foam from the waves, but it looked too uniform. As I got closer I realized that it was 8 little white and grey birds all huddled together. They moved in unison. If one hopped to the right, they all hopped to the right. They were just adorable.
I stopped and clicked away, wondering what they were. When I got home I looked them up in my Sibley Bird Book and saw that they are adult nonbreeding Sanderlings. Sanderlings are small, plump sandpipers with a stout bill about the same length as the head. Their black legs blur as they run back and forth on the beach, picking or probing for tiny prey in the wet sand left by receding waves.
Sanderlings are extreme long-distance migrants that breed only on High Arctic tundra, but during the winter they live on the beaches around the world.
I had never seen a Sanderling before, have you?