White-rumped Sandpiper is my new Western Palearctic shorebird

We were just about to go out somewhere for having fun, when a news about a White-rumped Sandpiper was posted via BirdGuides mobile app. As I have never seen White-rumped Sandpiper in the Western Palearctic, and it is a shorebird, it was obvious to jump to the Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve in Lincolnshire.

Adult White-rumped Sandpiper in breeding plumage in its Canadian Arctic breeding grounds. © Shiloh Schulte

Adult White-rumped Sandpiper in breeding plumage in its Canadian Arctic breeding grounds. © Shiloh Schulte

Thanks to a rater slow Monday afternoon driving, we arrived late to the Tennyson’s Sands, a part of the massive nature reserve. I first went to the northern hide and spent some time alone. I enjoyed watching and listening shorebirds undisturbed. The view was something I have been dreaming about for a while. Wonderful and colourful waders were in front of the hide, including a flock of adult Dunlin, Sanderling, but also many European and Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits and a few Red Knot, all still in breeding plumage. The numbers were not big, but still it was a pleasant and tranquillizing half an hour.

I was focusing on the small Calidris group feeding in front of the hide. Counting birds also helps in the careful separation of different species. It didn’t take too long to spot a bird with different jizz. A silvery sandpiper with a horizontally elongated body, longer tail and wings popped out from the flock. I could watch them for about 15 minutes while they moved from a little muddy island to another. It was feeding intensively and stopped for preening for a few minutes only. Then, by some reason, the whole mixed flock flushed off and landed in the southern end of Tennyson’s Sands.

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Black-tailed Godwits feeding in the Tennyson’s Sands of the Gibraltar Point NNR. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Later the flock was relocated by a local birder, but most of the birds stayed out of view behind a larger vegetated island. As lights decreased fast I left the area, but remained satisfied what the Gibraltar Point offered me.

It’s not possible to define the origin of the vagrant White-rumped Sandpipers in Great Britain. Most probably they are coming from the Canadian Arctic, but westward movements from far northeast Siberia is also possible (like the Great Knot(s) appearance two weeks ago in Norfolk or in Poland).

Plumage colour pattern and the colour tones of its nesting habitat allows the White-rumped Sandpipers a perfect camouflage. © Shiloh Schulte

Plumage colour pattern and the colour tones of its nesting habitat allows the White-rumped Sandpipers a perfect camouflage. © Shiloh Schulte

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The White-rumped Sandpiper is such a finely marked shorebird making it an elegant member of the Calidris group and one my favourite sandpiper species from the Americas. © Shiloh Schulte

Huge thanks to Shiloh Schulte for his lovely images, who recently returned back from the Arctic Canada where a group of scientists studied shorebirds. Also, thanks to BirdGuides for spreading the news.

Shorebird numbers:

Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) 32
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) 29
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) 4
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) 1
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) 1
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) 6
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) 3
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) 159
Red Knot (Calidris canutus) 5
Sanderling (Calidris alba) 19
Dunlin (Calidris alpina) 46
White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) 1 ad
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) 6

Update: the other morning the sandpiper was found again with another rare shorebird, a Broad-billed Sandpiper!

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