Spring Migration

Spring migration is a popular draw on the Washington Coast, especially during the Shorebird Festival. The migration has just begun and won’t peak for a couple of weeks, but it’s still thrilling to see masses of shorebirds fill the sky as they move up and down the beach.

Shorebirds Taking Flight

Like most birders, I have my own favorites one of them being this dramatically colored Black-Bellied Plover,

Black-Bellied Plover in Breeding Colors

perhaps because it’s easy to identify. It’s a relatively large shorebird with dramatic colors during the breeding season. Unlike the sandpipers, it sprints from spot to spot picking up food rather than probing the sand.

The easily identified Dunlin

Dunlin in Breeding Colors

is another personal favorite. It’s only about a quarter the size of the Black-Bellied Plover, but its black chest when in breeding colors sets it apart from the huge variety of sandpipers.

I think this is a Sanderling,


just beginning to change into its breeding colors, but I’ll admit it might well be a Western Sandpiper, or even a Least Sandpiper. It would be helpful if all the birds donned their breeding colors at the same times, but apparently they have more important things to do than helping birders identify them.

Truthfully, I don’t worry much about identifying them. In fact, I seldom try until I get home and put them up on the screen. Leaving Bottle Beach, another birder asked me if I’d seen any Dowitchers, and I didn’t realize until that moment that I had and didn’t know if I’d taken any pictures of them until I got home and downloaded the shots.

It’s enough simply to be immersed in shorebirds, experiencing their delicate, infinite, beauty.

6 thoughts on “Spring Migration”

  1. great stuff, loren. the bbps are beautiful, i see why you find them so. also really loved the elk, photo, just passed the turn off to tokeland on thursday headed to oregon. lots of lichen hanging.kjm

  2. I think that is the best way to go about it Loren. If one spends too long on identification at the time then often one misses stupendous sights. Fantastic photos as usual.

  3. Thanks so much for these photos from the beach. Especially the birds in flight filling the sky.

    Yikes! I haven’t been to the ocean since fall of 2008. That’s a long time to be away. Your photos bring the ocean right here, right now.

    I’m reminded, too, of the vast flocks of shearwaters that come to Monterey Bay.

  4. Ah, you see — these are the wonders of spring. Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful photos. I’ve never physically been to the Northwest but your photos and commentary are giving me a definite taste of the experience.

    1. Actually, I got to thinking about what you said Keara, and I think I actually prefer Spring to Summer, at least when we get some breaks in the clouds.

      It’s been off-and-on sunny for three days now (though the newest forecast calls for rain the next five days) and I’ve loved it.

      1. I’m with you, Loren, in feeling that spring is the best part of the year. Summer is grand, but spring really comes as a gift and is so full of promise. For us right now, it’s all the flowering trees that really get one’s attention. :-))

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