The sun rises on a new day, setting the sea aflame in glittering gold. This beauty is of no consequence to a Herring Gull. Neither is the turbulent surf. Just another day at the office.
Taking wing and then diving, he expertly snatches breakfast on the go.
Out on the marsh, Great Egrets congregate. Three stand watch while others attend to their beauty routine. Behind them, Snowy Egrets look for a midmorning snack.
Ruffled by the wind but not the bridge traffic in the distance, a Great Blue Heron surveys a wide expanse of saltmarsh cordgrass.
On the mudflats, Yellowlegs forage.
Greater Yellowlegs? Lesser Yellowlegs? Or one of each? Who’s to say?
(Yellowlegs identification is a challenge. For the record, I think these are Greater Yellowlegs. At least the one on the left with the long bill. But I could be wrong.)
The beach is a ballroom brimming with tuxedoed birds. Black and white with orange-red accents, these Black Skimmers (front) and American Oystercatchers (rear) await the next dance.
My, what big eyes you have, grandmother! The American Oystercatcher enhances its clownlike appearance with oversized pink feet and a long red bill.
Ahhh, lunch! Oysters are not on the menu today, but crabs are. This Oystercatcher carries his entrée into a nearby puddle. Apparently, it’s considered good manners to wash one’s food before one eats it.
How to tell these birds apart? The American Oystercatcher has an all-black head, red bill, and those marvelous red-rimmed golden eyes. The Black Skimmer in the background is a stockier bird with a white chin and unremarkable dark eyes.
But then there’s that bill. Razor thin, with a lower bill much longer than the top. Skimmers feed by flying over the water, bill open and lower mandible cutting through the surface. The bill snaps shut as soon as it touches a fish. Gotcha!
After lunch, it’s time for preening. An American Oystercatcher goes to great lengths to keep those feathers clean.
Also a contortionist, the Black Skimmer turns upside down to get those hard to reach spots.
There go the Skimmers. Evening is the time for them to feed along the ocean’s edge, knifing their bills through the calm water in search of fish.
Joining the Skimmers on this lovely evening are the Sanderlings. These small shorebirds chase retreating waves down the beach, while probing for tiny invertebrates and crustaceans.
Only to flee from the incoming wave in a blur of constant motion. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…
…in the sunset glow of another fine day at the beach.