One of the things I love about walking on the beach is that it is forever different and always fascinating. Today was gray with a pretty thick marine layers covering the coast. I love low tides when the reef is exposed, the beach is wide, and if I’m lucky there will be more shore birds and other sea creatures visible.
Today it was the tiny sandpipers that caught my eye. They gather in groups, perhaps safety in numbers, and move in unison. I crept close today (they spook easily) and waited and watched with my camera at the ready. Their coloring helps them camouflage with the reef, making it hard to get great photos.
So many birds stand on one leg…and this one is a perfect example. I’m guessing it’s a way to rest. I know when I am standing a lot (like every day teaching), I find myself standing one one leg or resting one foot on the other.
As I was thinking about these birds that run and fly in perfect synch–their little feet almost like perpetual motion machines–I was also wondering about their collective noun. What is a group of sandpipers called? With a question like this, I did the usual and turned to Google. There I learned there are a number of names for a group of sandpipers including a contradiction, a fling, a hill, and even a time-step! Where do these names come from…and why? A contradiction?
If I were to choose from these nouns, I would definitely go with time-step. I love to watch their little legs move in a blur of constant motion and in perfect step with each other–definitely a time-step!
And…I was lucky enough to catch this guy mid leap! Notice the little drip of water from the tiny bird foot raised above the ground.
It’s fun to leave the beach wondering and thinking. No two days are alike and every day gets me thinking. Where do you go to think and wonder? (And maybe even walk and photograph)
This sounds like such a lovely walk! And your pictures are gorgeous! I can’t believe you were able to get the one leaping! Wow!
Thanks. I owe it to some patience today.
Amazing pictures! Shorebirds have always cracked me up, running around on those spindly long legs! I love the group names you found when you looked them up – whoever came up with animal group names anyway?! It wouldn’t have even occurred to me that they might be anything other than a flock!
I knew about a murder of crows and a squadron of pelicans—got me curious enough to do a bit of research about sandpipers. 😊
I miss the beach so much! I only get to spend a week at the ocean each year, but that week is such a huge part of my very being. I could sit and watch the tides and the birds for hours and days. Years, if I was able!
The beach is special—I could spend all my time there!
Isn’t it crazy the names groups of birds have? Like murder of crows and unkindness of ravens. I imagine the monikers for them stems from their association with sinister events. I mean, who hasn’t seen Hitchcock’s The Birds? Or read Poe’s The Raven?
Ooh! I hadn’t thought about associations with sinister events! Now I have more to think about.
I love the collective names for birds, and sandpipers have some great ones. Time-step is such fun, but I’m partial to fling. Your photos are gorgeous, as always, and I can now feel the beach tugging me. I wouldn’t make it for sunrise, but still…
(PS I think my favorite collective bird noun is charm–a charm of finches. It just captures their essence for me.)
I love looking up collective nouns. They’re so poetic and surprising (and often weird!). I’m definitely partial to contradiction. The beach is certainly a space for wondering and thinking.
I love that last picture with the drips off the bird’s foot. Amazing. I think you might like the latest On Being podcast with Drew Lanham. He’s an ornithologist and poet.