Whimbrel on a floating mat of seaweed
Among the shorebirds I enjoyed seeing and photographing while I lived in Florida were Whimbrels, I could see flocks of 25 or more during the winter along the coast. There had been rough waves the day before I photographed this Whimbrel which pushed floating mats of seaweed up close to the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, the Whimbrels were feeding on small crabs that were in the seaweed.
I know that Whimbrels do show up here in Utah during their migration north but I have yet to be able to get close enough to photograph them. Whimbrels breed in northern Arctic regions and can live up to 1 years. They are similar in appearance to Long-billed Curlews that I often photograph here and in Montana but bill length helps with ID. The curve of their bills matches the curve of the burrows of Fiddler Crabs, their favorite prey item.
*I am going to be away from my computer a lot until Friday, please feel free to share this post with your friends and family.
Short-billed Dowitcher on wrack line – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light
In the past I have been asked what a wrack line is by friends when I have mentioned it while talking about my shorebird photography. A wrack line is an area on the shore just above mean high tide where wave action can deposit driftwood, seaweed, manmade items, eelgrass, the remains of marine creatures and small invertebrates and can be a prime feeding ground for birds and animals that are hunting for food.
I photographed this Short-billed Dowitcher and the out of focus Sanderling the day after a storm had pushed mounds of Sargassum seaweed onto the wrack line and the birds were busy looking for food within it. This Dowitcher gave me a nice wing stretch before it moved further down the beach.
A word of warning; if the wrack line does have the remains of marine creatures in it you may have to hold your breath when near it because it can smell absolutely horrible.
More Dowitcher images