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The Pungent Mudflat

Tom Grey

  On the shore of a saltwater bay, the tide goes out, revealing a broad expanse of dark, glistening mudflat. Mudflats are rich in nutrients, such as decomposing organic matter and minerals. Far from wastelands, mudflats also support a bounty of life including vast quantities of tiny snails and clams, worms, crustaceans, larvae, and much more. Millions of shorebirds - including these Lesser (right) and Greater (left) Yellowlegs - follow shorelines and their mudflats each spring and fall, where they feast upon those tiny creatures hidden beneath the mud's surface, a banquet that powers the birds' continent-spanning migrations.