Winter Beach

The beach on Longboat Key, Florida, is not especially wide or scenic.  Nevertheless, it attracts an excellent variety of migrant and resident shorebirds, joined by a host of other avian residents.  On our two beach walks since arriving, I have encountered willets, ruddy turnstones, black-bellied plovers, red knots, short-billed dowitchers and, as usual, large skittish flocks of sanderlings.

Joining these beachcombers were ospreys, laughing gulls, royal, least and sandwich terns, brown pelicans, double-crested cormorants, black skimmers and a few great blue herons.  Snowy egrets, white ibis and yellow-crowned night herons generally visit the beach as well but did not make an appearance on our initial walks; neither did northern gannets or black scoters that often feed offshore during the winter months.  Magnificent frigatebirds, common on Longboat Key in summer, usually winter out to sea and are seldom observed during this season.

While I am not one to lounge on the beach with a book and headphones, I enjoy walks along the shore.  Keeping a look out for crabs, dolphins and rays as well, I relish the sound, smell and feel of the sea, the mother of life on Planet Earth.