Surf & Sanderlings
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24” x 36”, oil, 1979
With the shorter days of late summer and fall, flocks of sanderlings in pale winter plumage move from their Arctic nesting grounds to the more southerly Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Sandy beaches are the preferred habitat in migration and winter, either on fresh water lakes or on the sea. But the sanderling is really in its element right at the edge of the pounding waves.

As the ebb tide begins, the flocks busily rush at the very edge of the surf. Each wave reveals a fresh feast of tiny invertebrates that must be picked up in split seconds in the ever changing wash. The sanderlings, almost in unison, follow the backwash down the slope, then flee up the beach inches ahead of the onrushing, bubbling foam. Sometimes, almost swamped, they will play this seemingly dangerous game without fear, but will take wing in a twinkling to avoid a soaking.