September 19, 2023
- as seen by -Julie Larsen
At the end of August, Hurricane Franklin spiraled northward toward Maine’s coast. Its eye stayed out to sea, but the monster storm’s powerful five-to-eight-foot swells came ashore enticing surfers to rush out and meet them.
And they were not the only wave chasers.
Sanderlings (Calidris alba) had just arrived from their breeding grounds in the Arctic. The medium-sized sandpipers scurried back and forth, their steps in sync with the tide’s ebb and flow.
These shorebirds spend fall and winter at the beach where they use their black bills to pluck out prey including crabs, mollusks, and other crustaceans.
Regularly seen along most shorelines in many places, sanderlings are actually a common bird in decline having lost a good deal of their population in recent decades. They are sensitive to pollution, habitat change, and other human activities according to Cornell’s All About Birds.