peeps

There are a bunch of very similar looking tiny shore birds that move around very quickly for the most part. I tend to refer to them in aggregate as ‘peeps’. Quite some time ago (8/31/13) I happened across a rather large gathering of them. For once they were pretty much at rest and not skimming the waves at high speed. I’ve never nailed down what species they are. It looks like there were two different types, not exactly mingling, but resting close together. I’m guessing the little ones with the shorter legs might be Sanderlings, but haven’t a clue about the bunch with the longer legs and darker coloring.

(a click on any image will give you a slideshow for a closer look)

He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars. 
Jack London, The Call of the Wild

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34 thoughts on “peeps

    • Your last sentence gave me a good chuckle! Fourteen years in Utah was the farthest I got from the sea. I yearned for it the whole time I lived there. It’s good to be back near it once again. Somethings just seem to get into one’s blood.

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    • I’ve never heard of Knot or Stint, but we certainly have Sandpiper as a broad category. Seeing so many congregated far from the surf line was a surprise and a delight for sure and they didn’t seem too concerned at me approaching, though I was using a long lens and cropped the images.

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    • I’m quite certain they left their share of little crisscross footprints in the sand at that spot. It was certainly a pleasant surprise to find them there… and to have them stick around giving me a chance to shoot them.

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  1. Well, my guess is that the smaller one’s are either Baird’s or semi-palmated sandpipers and that the larger ones are black-bellied plovers. I’ve never seen sanderlings rest, and they are more grey than brown, at least in this area.

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    • Near as I can tell, it’s difficult to tell these little peeps apart when they’re not in breeding plumage. I started to pull out the bird books, but ultimately gave it up. I’ll just call them cute… or as you often do, I’ll just call them unidentified peeps. 😉

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  2. Black bellied plovers is what I was thinking, too, for the last photos, but the first ones – I’d have to really pour over the book. They’re so difficult in non-breeding plumage. Pretty photos! I like the way they’re settled into the background beach detritus.
    When I was younger I used to be lucky enough to spend two weeks in spring on the Georgia Sea Islands. I’d go out to the beach in the morning with my binocs and field guide, sit down, and study. There were so many migrating peeps that you could do that, just sit by yourself on the beach and sort through them. But they were in breeding plumage, which made it easier!

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    • They certainly are a puzzlement. But still so much fun to watch them scurrying along the surf line. When my pooch was just a pup… before she was trained to recall, I thought I had lost her as she chased after a small flock of peeps until she went out of sight. They skimmed along just in front of her and just kept going. We called and ran (me, with a recent broken ankle). Luckily she decided on her own to turn around and come back. Scared me half to death.

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      • I love the way sandpipers do that – flying just far enough to get away, landing, and it starts all over again as soon as you or the dog or whatever is too close for comfort. Very frustrating too, though!
        I hope you’re not too wet these days!

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        • That’s exactly what they did to the pup. Just staying out of reach, but tempting for the little one. These days she seems to have learned and doesn’t bother trying to catch them. We’ve quite a bit of rain, but I’m LOVIN’ it!!! The pastures are flooding again, as they should be. The wandering birds are returning. Life is good!

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  3. Hi Gunta
    I love the word “peeps” because it describes these little ones so well. The first three pictures look like black-bellied plover adults in non-breeding plumage (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Black-bellied_Plover/id). The black bill, speckled back and light chest/belly are my clues. The last two photos are also black-bellied plovers, this time juveniles (http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/186/articles/introduction). We get them down here, too, and when I compare your peep photos to mine, they look pretty much the same.
    Chris

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    • So, I can add these little ones to the plover collection. I was delighted to see so many of them and even have them stay put long enough for quite a few shots. Is it my imagination, or do the juveniles have longer legs in proportion to their bodies? I suppose I could go to the links you provided and rummage around to see what I can learn. Thank you so very much for taking the time to respond.

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