Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Sanderlings

There’s not a cloud in the sky. The warming November sun illuminates the wet mud and it’s perfectly still. As if by magic, the empty shore is suddenly full of flashing grey and white wings. 300 or more Sanderlings swirl low over the ground, gyrating left and right, white under-wings glinting as they catch the late afternoon light. The rhythm is breathtaking; some break away into a smaller group then reunite before the whole flock lands gently on the mud. In a moment, they’re off again, landing further away this time in a flooded depression. They bathe busily, the sound of wings travelling across the silent shore. Sanderlings hardly ever seem to rest, incessantly running over the mud at what appears full speed; they stop only for an instant to grab a morsel. Again, and with no apparent signal, the flock takes off and provides another marvel of synchronised flight as before disappearing out of sight to a distant part of the beach.

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