Single Sanderling Lingering

It almost seems like the arrival of fall shorebird migrants is on pause or perhaps just waiting for the next big push. I haven’t seen too many shorebirds on the beaches at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve aside from a few Semi-palmated Plovers. There are, of course, plenty of California Gulls around and shorebirds can be found if one looks hard enough.

This week while down at Florencia Bay searching for the elusive Pink Sand-verbena I did run into a solitary juvenile Sanderling (Calidris alba), perhaps a forerunner of the wintering flocks, at the mouth of Lost Shoe Creek. The bird was focused on feeding, enabling me to get close enough with my 105mm Nikon lens to get a decent shot. The light was pretty much perfect and the Sanderling was lit well in the early morning sun.

Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Sanderling (Calidris alba) at Florencia Bay in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Adult Sanderlings in winter plumage are pale gray across the back with a white underbelly, black legs, and a short black bill. Juveniles have a “spangled” back, a beautiful pattern of softly scalloped black and white. Note the black shoulder – in flight, the leading edge of the Sanderling’s wing is black with a broad white wingstripe.

Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Sanderling (Calidris alba) enjoying the morning sun.

We watched each other for a couple of minutes, ankle and tarsus deep in water. Then I moved on down the beach, leaving this gorgeous little shorebird to enjoy the morning light as it continued to feed at the water’s edge. Rather than lingering, perhaps it is just waiting for its fellow shorebirds to arrive.