Monday, May 11, 2009

Horseshoe crabs and shorebirds

Dawn asked me about the horseshoe crabs and shorebirds. There are so many connections to the nature world. It is an amazing balancing act perfected over hundreds of thousands of years.
This past weekend I was helping with an Atlanta Audubon Society's shorebird workshop. Saturday, the group met up with Brad Winn, Clay George and Adam MacKinnon of Georgia Department of Nature Resource, Wildlife Resource Division. They took us out in boat to see hundreds of shorebirds feasting on horseshoe crab eggs.
The place is a tiny no-named sand spit. Here are two of the workshop boats.
It was a mind boggling experience. The horseshoe crab lays thousands of eggs enough to continue this ancient species and provide the necessary fuel for the migrating shorebirds.
This is the undersides of the horseshoe crab. These creatures have been crawling up on land since the time of the dinosaurs. So when the shorebirds started their long jumps from the winter ground to the nesting grounds, they learned to time it with the nesting of the horseshoe crabs. It happens every spring. Delaware Bay is famous for this spectacles of horseshoe crabs and shorebirds but it also occurs right here on the Georgia coast as well. See
This is an overview of some of the shorebirds with one of the boats in the background.
This picture shows Short-billed Dowitchers, Dunlins, some Sanderlings and a few Semipalmated Sandpiper and along with one Forster's Tern.

We even had a surprise gull, more on that gull later. In the meantime, I would like to thank Art and Lisa Hurt for putting together this shorebird workshop. Wow!


dAwN said...

Thanks for the great post..
Oh my look at all those birds..
Good thing the Horse shoe crab lays so many egss...
Amazing...I hope that the horseshoe crap populations keep increasing.

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