Sandpipers (What’s in a Name)

After five early morning attempts I finally spotted the Wandering Tattler on the Breakwater. I’m not complaining. The sea is flat and the days are warm. The Tattler is a sandpiper, one species in a large family. Like the Wandering Tattler, many have magical names, like characters in a book – Dowitcher, Whimbrel, Willet, Ruff, Greenshanks, Redshanks, Godwit, Stint, Red Knot, Yellowlegs. A children’s book, I think.

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Wandering Tattler, Victoria, BC

I like their Latin names too. Calidris and Tringa are my favourites. Members of the Tringa family are lanky, like the Tattler. The Calidris folks tend to be shorter and  stockier, more sandpiper like. Red Knots, for example. Makes me think of stories in classical mythology-Calidris met Tringa in Poseidon’s garden one evening and incurred his wrath – that type of thing.

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Red Knots and Friends, Ocean Shores, WA

And they migrate, often thousands of miles. The bird I saw this morning left the mountains of Alaska days ago. It’s just the beginning of the shorebird season and lots of them are showing up. Yesterday, ten Greater Yellowlegs and a Black-bellied Plover plunked down in the little bay near my home and frolicked. And why not?  After the sun set somewhere north of here, they lifted off and flew all night. Time for a morning bath and a bit of fun!  Is it my imagination or is there a bit of ‘do you mind?’ in the glance of this chap?

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Greater Yellowlegs, Victoria, BC

The Yellowlegs and Plovers are in the first wave of sandpipers. Soon, I’ll be out in the autumn gales, plashing through marshes in my wellies, looking for more species, and always hoping something rare will drop in. A Siberian sandpiper would be nice.

 

 

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