Like a Mirage in the Air

What an incredible experience to see 6,000 sandpipers shimmering in the air! Fun fact: the scientific name for a flock of Western Sandpipers is called a “murmur”. However, after spending much time watching and listening to them move and call, I have found a new word that seems more aligned with how they’ve left an impression on me- how I’ve observed the way they travel. They move with a mesmerizing, dreamlike lull- much like a mirage in the air. The word mirage, in my mind, is more descriptive of the wonder they hold as they fly. My eyes light up in awe as I watch them synchronize through the air, dancing as one.  

There are only a couple of days left before the shorebird survey period will be complete. As my mind has naturally been filled with knowledge of these wondrous voyagers, I am reminded of how much there is to learn in this world by watching with wide open eyes and listening with curious ears. It has been a fascinating process to watch myself feel more and more comfortable with my shorebird identification as I am able to trust my newfound skills more and more.

I’ve also enjoyed having the honor to witness the influx of birds as they migrate through. Witnessing the way the bad storms push the shorebirds inland as they take cover here in on the Copper River Delta as they wait out their next opportunity to continue their journey to the Arctic. It’s been an interesting experience for me, finding equal gratitude for both rainy and sunny days in Cordova. On rainy days, I get to greet thousands of new shorebirds passing through. On sunny days, though there are not many shorebirds to see, I know that we are all enjoying the sunshine together. 

Unfortunately, I don’t have many photos of the shorebirds to show the picture that I’ve been painting. I hope to accumulate more photos and videos from other people in the district and write educational posts about specific shorebirds that were involved in the surveys. For now, I hope my words can convey some of the beauty that I’ve witnessed over the first couple weeks of May.

Gabriela Judd
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