The Sanderling is a medium sized sandpiper that chases receding waves and probes for invertebrates in the wet sand before running away from the incoming surf. In their winter plumage Sanderlings are pale gray above and pure white below. The name sanderling comes from the Icelandic, "sanderla," which alludes to the birds' sandy habitat according to the Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds.
Running on the beach next to the Sanderling is the smallest shorebird in the world. The Least Sandpiper is distinguished from other "peeps" by its yellowish legs. Peep is a term for various tiny sandpipers that are smaller than the Sanderling.
Ruddy Turnstones, like the Sanderling are residents of the Arctic. As their name suggests, they turn over stones and other objects on the shore in search of food. To follow the arrival of neo-tropical migrants in Belize visit the Wildtracks project.
Meanwhile the residents of San Pedro are busy with construction and other preparations for the high tourist season, which runs November through March.
"Tropical the island breeze
All of nature wild and free
This is where I long to be
La isla bonita"
Lyrics from La Isla Bonita by Madonna
The reason for my visit to San Pedro, not vacation but work. North of town on Ambergris Caye is Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve. I assisted another Volunteer and the Fisheries Dept. with their pre-season Queen Conch survey. Conch are large marine snails. A spent a few days snorkeling transects over the sea grass beds, diving for conch, and taking their measurements. The conch population in the preservation zone appeared much healthier than the general use area, which is open to fishing. But regular enforcement is difficult, I found several broken shells while surveying the preservation zone.
News from Half Moon Caye is that Bob Marley was caught with undersized conch, not sure if they were within the park boundaries (most likely yes). This is the 3rd or 4th incident I've heard of involving Bob Marley. See last year's archives for "Conch-fiscated".