‘The whimbrels, sea curlews, godwits, sandpipers, turnstones, dowitchers, snipes, knots, stints, phalaropes etc, a large group of small to moderately large shorebirds, mainly breeding in cooler parts of the northern hemisphere and wintering on southern hemisphere coasts, wetlands and grassy plains…’
…definition from the Handbook of Western Australian Birds Volume I, RE Johnstone & GM Storr, WA Museum 1998
An illustration from Natural History Drawings: The Complete William Farquhar Collection, Malay Peninsula 1803-1818 (Editions Didier Millet & National Museum of Singapore, 2010)
Sandpiper by Elizabeth Bishop
The roaring alongside he takes for granted,
and that every so often the world is bound to shake.
He runs, he runs to the south, finical, awkward,
in a state of controlled panic, a student of Blake.
The beach hisses like fat. On his left, a sheet
of interrupting water comes and goes
and glazes over his dark and brittle feet.
He runs, he runs straight through it, watching his toes.
– Watching, rather, the spaces of sand between them
where (no detail too small) the Atlantic drains
rapidly backwards and downwards. As he runs,
he stares at the dragging grains.
The world is a mist. And then the world is
minute and vast and clear. The tide
is higher or lower. He couldn’t tell you which.
His beak is focussed; he is preoccupied,
looking for something, something, something.
Poor bird, he is obsessed!
The millions of grains are black, white, tan, and gray
mixed with quartz grains, rose and amethyst.
Listen to the poem here (an audio-link should appear but can be a bit erratic):
In for the long-haul:
Annually the red-necked stint (about 35 grams) migrates twice as far as a humpback whale (about 35,000 kilograms), despite being one millionth of its size…
…noted in Shorebirds 2020 Newsletter, December 2013, http://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/shorebirds-2020
Images courtesy Nrg800 and JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons