Wind warriors – surf, wind, and wings

The surf was up yesterday afternoon – and the wind warriors were out in force.  The ones that first caught my attention were the two-legged variety, but the ones that caught my heart had wings. Like these Sanderlings scooting along just above the surf.

Click image for larger version.

Click image for larger version.

There was some interesting action on the eastern shore as well – but more on that in a minute. First, were the guys: What struck me was there were about a dozen, and they were well-past their teen years. My guess is some of them skipped out of work a tad early to catch the surf. Watching them put on their wet suits and related equipment I couldn’t help thinking of modern warriors,  girding themselves for battle – in this case battle with wind and surf.  But it seemed only a couple really dared get out there. Others got ready, but seemed content to sit on the rocks and watch the two that were challenging waves and wind.

Click image for larger version.

Click image for larger version.

But as I watched these folks scooting across the surf, I noticed some small, rapidly flying shorebirds in the distance and over the next few minutes they came whirling along the wave-splashed causeway . . .

Looking north from the west side of the parking lot along the causeway as a strong southwest winds sends waves against it near high tide. Click image for larger version.

Looking north from the west side of the parking lot along the causeway as a strong southwest winds sends waves against it near high tide. Click image for larger version.

. . . and right past where I stood. I snapped furiously with varying luck and when I got home, made an effort to sort out what I had seen. Here’s the better results.

Click image for larger version.

Dunlin's, I believe. Click image for larger version.

Click image for larger version.

And this, I'm quite sure, is a Dunlin in the lead with two Sanderlings trailing. Click image for larger version.

Meanwhile, on the much calmer eastern shore, this handsome Common Eider was resting on a rock, then hopped in the water and stretched.

Click image for larger version.

Female, common Eider - first winter, perhaps. Click image for larger version.

The ring-billed gull is significantly smaller than the Herring Gull, but this pair really drive home that point – especially when you consider that the ring-billed is the one closer to the camera.

Click image for larger version.

Click image for larger version.

Seen singly, in flight, it’s nearly impossible to judge size. But, of course, the black ring around the bill makes identification in this case easy. Black wing tips with white spots are also diagnostic.

Click image for larger version.

Second winter - or adult non-breeding, ring-billed gull. Click image for larger version.

What i couldn’t identify were these shells. They were all connected together and looked like Slippers – but why and how are they connected? And why so many on the beach right now?

Click image for larger version.

Click image for larger version.

There wasn’t a single example – there were many examples – sometimes all gathered together as this next image shows.

Click image for larger version.

Click image for larger version.

BTW – we were out in the morning – Bren, Higgins, Eliza and I. But I had forgotten to put a card in my camera, so I missed some good photo opportunities, including wave after wave of swallows coming down from the north and flying along the top of the east beach – oh, and another monarch butterfly.  I went back alone about 3 pm to get the  shots shown above.

Wednesday I was too tied up with the astronomy Web site, tomorrow is my astronomy class, and Friday – well, expecting packages in the morning and playing bridge in the afternoon – so it may be a few days before the next journal entry!

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