Sunday, February 9, 2014

Winter at the Beach

In the Winter, edge habitat is at a premium.  Lakes are frozen, snow covered brush areas, and harsh winds make life very difficult.  At least for people who don't wear thermal underwear.  Birds have no issue with their amazing feathers and take advantage of their adaptations to find food and flourish in these conditions.  Spending time on the beach this winter with these amazing birds exposes the life and struggles in this tough areas.

What might you expect to see on the beach?  Typical things include peeps, gulls, and raptors with a scattering of song birds.  While the Color-scheme might seem a bit repetitive, there is a lot of life and color to enjoy.  There's a lot of activity if you know where to look.

Sanderlings are always running with the tide.  They are always grabbing a slipper snail or crab or something.  This last time I was out, I notice a particular occurrence.  Sanderlings would grab a snail or crab only to be forced to abandon their catch or fight off from the hungry and aggressive Gulls around.  The gulls were flying about smashing their food whether it is their own or stolen from the Sanderlings.

Raptors fly about.  Many raptors use stealth and surprise as their greatest weapons, but the raptors I saw today were harriers.  And harriers hunt.  You can see it in the way they fly and soar.  They are scoping out the ground and environs looking for their meal.  Seeing them fly and hunt is a real joy.  In my last outing, I was lucky enough to be at a site to see 5 Northern Harriers.  I can't wait to go out and find what else is surviving and flourishing!

A Gull eating by dropping

Gulls and Sanderlings

A Northern Harrier flying across a marsh

A Large 2-cycle Iceland Gull

2014 Year List: 118
CT Year List: 113
Notable Additions:
Wild Turkey
Snow Bunting
Black-Bellied Plover

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