Monday, June 1, 2009

Little brown beach runner

I was out for a walk on the beach this morning, and this shorebird jogs by going the other direction, headed basically northward. I step out of the way, since this bird means business.

It's a dunlin, Calidris alpina. Dunlins nest in the way far north Arctic and this one was just passing through. In a hurry. Maybe it was tired of flying and was walking to the arctic tundra.

Unlike the violets I wrote about yesterday, where the color was named after the critter, here the critter was named after the color, "dun" being a 14th century word for greyish brown. As it turns out, dunlins are found all around the Arctic regions not only of North America but also of Scandinavia and Russia. Their name in German is Alpenstrandläufer, or "Mountain Beach Runner."

Run, little beach runner, run!

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