I took these pictures yesterday late in the day at Estero Llano Grande. My Sibley field guide says the Dowitcher is about 11" long with a 19" wingspan. I believe this bird is a Long-billed Dowitcher, although if someone told me it was a Short-billed Dowitcher I wouldn't exactly fall off the tractor. My I.D.ing is mostly based on habitat because frankly in winter plumage I couldn't tell the difference if I was holding one in my hand.
There was much splashing, preening, jumping up and flapping the water off of feathers, only to splash away again - much like a young humanoid cub in a bathtub. We really have no idea of what goes on in their birdie brains, but at some point this obviously became pleasure .... or dare I say .... "play". Play? I am reasonably certain some of the Corvids play, but Shorebirds? Well, maybe they do. Someone needs to study this for years and years, then write a doctoral thesis on "Play Among Various Limnodromus Sandpipers". Then we would know for certain.