Monday, June 6, 2016 Wandering Tattler

Seward, Alaska

Two WANDERING TATTLERS and a pair of WHIMBRELS endured the throngs of fishermen and Memorial Day holiday crowds who walked past and through their preferred rocky intertidal habitat by Scheffler Creek.

The Tattlers blended right in with the rocks and algae, even with their bright yellow legs and constantly bobbing tails. If one didn’t know they were there, it would be easy to miss unless they flew and called out.

The Whimbrels however, a much larger shorebird with a huge, curving bill, should have caught more attention. But no, people blindly walked past as the wary birds picked and poked through the wrack. One lucky bird found a Dungeness crab and worked it over pretty thoroughly behind a rock. I never saw the Whimbrel eat the crab, but it looked like the gills and back were exposed after some work.

The Cornell website noted that crab is a primary winter food in many regions. The curved bill easily fits down a fiddler crab burrow for extraction, and the crab is consumed whole, sometimes minus the legs.

Today, in the rain, I refound one Wandering Tattler after a fisherman disturbed it. I wonder why it is still here, when perhaps it should be nesting up in the mountains near a stream or pond. Maybe there’s still too much snow.

I did not find the Whimbrels, and assume they have flown to the tundra farther north to nest. But, given their excellent camouflage, I may have missed them after all.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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