Seagoing sandpipers


"A pair of Red-necked Phalaropes that had presumably started a nest here were conspicuously in evidence, small as they were, because their restless activity kept them constantly in a state of such active movement, whether on land, on the water, or on the air. The difficulty in observing them was not that of getting close enough, for they would repeatedly land on the water within twenty or thrity feet of the observer. But they did not stay. They flitted off again in darting flight over the grasses, down again and hidden from view, now up again, repeatedly uttering a single tone, a twit, often excitedly in rapid succession. Nothing could exceed their delicacy and elegance when on the water or on land. Obviously they were the aristocrats of some Lilliputian kingdom. On land they ran about with an agility one would have not expected in that, for three-quarters of every year, hardly have occasion to touch anything solid with their feet. On the water they rode high, their little heads on stalks, turning about this way and that, repeatedly, touching the surface on one side or another with the needle tips of their bills. Both wore a pattern of gray and white (bolder in the female) and both had an orange-red stain (brighter and more extensive in the female) than ran down from the back of the head over the throat, making each look like some flower of the marsh-weed through which it swam.

No Venetian ever blew anything as delicate in glass. No photograph can do justice to it ; no painter ever has. One needs the vast setting of sky and water to see how small the bird is. The daintiness of its hesitating and darting flight could never be reproduced."



"No less than the reader of these notes, Phalaropes and Snipe, Curlew and Oystercatch represent life on earth. One cannot even be sure that they are less important in whatever may be the great scheme of things."

The Storm Petrel and the owl of Athena, VI, Louis J. Halle

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