Birdwatching Ocean antics: Birds on the move

MADELINE KALBACH PHOTO

Large flocks of sanderlings carpet our ocean beaches at this time of year. Here they are resting before they have to catch the next wave.


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MADELINE KALBACH PHOTO

Look for small flocks of marbled godwits. They are the big boys!


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MADELINE KALBACH PHOTO

Expect to see dunlin in larger numbers in coming weeks as shorebird migration picks up.


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MADELINE KALBACH PHOTO

A lonely western sandpiper wanders alone in search of lunch.


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MADELINE KALBACH PHOTO

Sanderlings chase the waves and run along the beach in search of a tasty snack.


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By Dr. Madeline A. Kalbach

For the Observer

Autumn is an exciting time on the Willapa national Wildlife Refuge and the Long Beach Peninsula. Songbirds, ducks and other waterfowl are on the move.

Currently, the ocean shore is one of the best places to witness the migration of many different shorebird species, seabirds and other waterfowl. During the past week or so there has been a beach party going on. The sooty shearwaters continue to move back and forth along the ocean feasting to build up energy for the trek to their breeding grounds.

Hundreds of sanderlings can also be seen racing along with the waves all the while probing sand for invertebrate prey. At this time of year, they appear to be all white from a distance — but up close only their underside is white. Their backs are a very pale gray.

Sometimes the flock of sanderlings is dotted with one or two dark, brown slightly larger shorebirds, called dunlin. In reality, they appear to be about the same size. Unlike the sanderling, dunlin mover slowly along the beach probing constantly in shallow water or in the sand for tasty insects. Dunlin are relatively common on our beaches at times, as well as…

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