I spend a lot of time outside and especially on secluded beaches. I am often alone and surrounded by shorebirds either roosting or feeding and I travel either by bicycle or on foot. My prints are often the only human prints on the beach and I see them increase as the tides decrease during the monthly cycle and wash away on the big tides. Every day I see other creatures leaving their prints and they also come and go with the tides. I walked back along a red sand beach this week and left distinct prints on the wet sand and they were gone by the next tide…..

Footprints on the sand

I came across a set of Australian Pelican prints and realised my feet are not that big!

Australian Pelican prints

I recently watched a small flock of Great Knot walking along the tide edge as they watched the tide fall and then flew out onto the reef to feed. You can almost imagine what I saw from the picture as each print was a bird walking side by side along the sand.

Great Knot prints

A flock of Greater Sand Plovers had all been crowded together at high tide and as it dropped they moved forward leaving their prints and a loose feather in the sand.

Greater Sand Plover prints

In the silty sand I discovered snail prints mixing with the actively feeding Red-necked Stint prints. They were moving at considerably different speeds!

Red-necked Stint and snail prints

During the breeding season in Broome I see the prints of Pied Oystercatchers leading to their nests. It takes a windy day to remove all the prints that they leave on every changeover of sitting duties.

Pied Oystercatcher prints

On one occasion I saw a Red-capped Plover chick that was only about 3 days old suddenly disappear from sight as its parents called out for it to hide. It found a human print was the only place to go, but it camouflaged it well!

Red-capped Plover chick in footprint

I have seen Sanderling run along the beach and due to their speed only leave one print next to a starfish!

Sanderling print next to starfish

Even an octopus will leave a print if it suddenly loses the sea from around itself and needs to move.

Octopus and its print

There’s an old saying…

Take only pictures and leave only footprints

I still have the pictures, but the prints are gone!

Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!