Bird #177 — Sanderling

calidris (a speckled water bird) alba (white)

Thursday, July 21, 1980 — 2:00 pm

Illinois Beach State Park, Illinois

We left the harbor and drove north to look for two Whimbrels that had been reported on the hot line.  The southern half of Illinois Beach State Park is set aside as a wildlife refuge.  If you try to get into this area from the north, you have to cross the Dead River.  Near the lake, where it is possible to wade the river, signs are posted warning that anyone found in the refuge without a permit will be subject to arrest and fine.

But there was another way. About half a mile south of the refuge, Greenwood Avenue ends in a large parking lot by a fishing pier.  From here, you used to be able to walk north along the beach into the park.  From this direction, there are no fences, rivers or signs.  I’ve been into the refuge about twenty times or so over the years, and I have never had any problems.  Only once have I seen anyone else in there, and he was just another birder.  Since then, a fence by the fishing pier blocks access to the beach.

This was the first time I’d been in the refuge.  The Whimbrels had been seen on the beach just south of the boundary, and that’s where we found them.  We continued on into the park.  The Sanderlings were running along the beach right at the water’s edge.  As we approached, they flushed out over the lake, displaying their wide white wing stripe.  They landed further up the beach and resumed foraging, running in and out with each wave.

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