This Dunlin is the first shorebird I saw on Seattle mud. At this point in my California life, I’d be chugging caffeine before the sun comes up, and getting to my favorite shorebird sanctuaries and mudflats as the light turns magenta rose. It might be the sound I miss most — the chatter of shorebirds, trotting knee-deep in Bay silt, keeping pace with the receding tide.
In the past week, a flock of Surf Scoters took up residence near our community beach here in Seattle. It’s a tiny beach but the restored wetlands provide a haven for at least one Bald Eagle, a Great Blue Heron, a Belted Kingfisher, an Osprey, and (so far) nine [found] salmon, perhaps having spawned, perhaps not.
A half mile off shore is an endless queue of scoter silhouettes, hundreds of them, mixed with Pigeon Guillemots and the squeaky-toy chirps of American Wigeon. When the Surf Scoters take flight and skim the ripples of Puget Sound, the “voice” of their wings bursts through the briny air and reminds me of home.
Which brings me, in a semi-circular way, back to the Dunlin who graced me with some magic-hour close-ups as she foraged for dinner. I spotted her at the shoreline, settled into a sand drift and took a few shots. She saw me, too — and then surprised me by walking toward my camera. She came close enough that I could fill the frame with her textured plumage. Surf-dampened, she rooted around for food in the dry sand — worms or crustaceans — coming up with a sand-encrusted bill.
For this one blip on the timeline, I was able to share a small patch of earth with the other.