Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Birds of a Feather...

Last weekend, we decided to get outdoors to walk a few miles.  The air was finally warming up and, though spring was still not in the air, Saturday was a gorgeous day.  We headed for West End Beach to walk the dunes and look for the snowy owls that have been sighted along the south shore all winter.

We walked out to the jetty along the fishermen's path and then meandered along the jetty toward the western edge of Jones Beach where the ocean meets the inlet.  It was windy and the surf was quite rough.

This area is fairly remote in winter and we only passed one or two other walkers.  As we approached the point, I noticed a large flock of birds at the water's edge.  They looked like sandpipers from a distance.  The birds were in 'formation,' all facing into the wind - south west.

There must have been hundreds of them all standing on one leg with their heads tucked back out of the wind.    I crept closer and closer to grab a few photos and I could hear  their chattering noises.  The tide was coming in and after a few minutes, they took off all together and flew back and forth in front of me.

 Each time they approached where I was standing they parted momentarily into two groups, rejoining one another over the ocean and returning to the beach together to land.  They did this several times and each time I felt like I was part of the flock, being completely surrounded by them.

Another birdwatcher, who arrived as we were leaving the area to head for the dunes to see if we could glimpse a snowy owl, told us these long beaked shore birds are called dunlins, a common bird in our area, although not one that we are familiar with.

He also pointed out a group of birders on the dunes who were observing a snowy owl.  We walked toward that spot on the beach, some distance from where we were, and caught a glimpse of the snowy owl as it took off, still quite far from us.  We missed a close-up of it, but did enjoy the flock of dunlins, if that is what they were.

The sun was extremely bright and I had some difficulty focusing my camera due to the light. I can not see the settings in bright sunlight.  These photos aren't great but they are what I got and they will remind me of how it felt to be surrounded by a flock of graceful birds on Saturday afternoon in  winter!

Does anyone know if these are dunlins?


  1. very nice, i'm a bit of a birder myself, i hope nothing landed on your head. :) Ted

  2. Wow! Those photos are amazing! Sounds like a beautiful place to take a walk and spend the whole day!


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