Posts Tagged ‘Purple Sandpiper’

Purple Sandpiper

Posted: March 20, 2019 in Birds, Devon, Natural History, UK
Tags:

This medium-sized wading bird is a winter visitor to the UK. It is mostly found in the north of the country but although not common it has established winter roosts in the south at places such as Southsea Castle and Brixham Harbour.

A few pairs (possibly up to 3) nest in the far northern islands of Scotland but it is estimated that the wintering population in the UK is around 13000 birds.

They are usually found on rocky outcrops where they probe for winkles , crustaceans and spiders, although also eat the plants that grow on the rocks.

These photos were all taken on our recent trip to Devon near Brixham Harbour.

The final day of our trip to South Devon and Keith and I went to Berry Head Nature Reserve, which is on a headland just outside Brixham. Our first destination is the quarry, where for 200 years since the 1800s Limestone was quarried from the cliff. Today it provides a cliff face and a secluded place for birds.

There are Fulmar nesting on the cliffs and out in the bay a large number of Northern Gannets and Guillemots. This looks a fantastic place for resting migrant birds, but only a few early migrants have arrived so far and apart from the resident species there is little to record.

Fulmar
Rock Pipit

Our next destination is the bird hide which faces opposite the cliffs where the Guillemots nest. At this time, it is estimated that there are around 1000 birds on the cliff ledges.

View over the bay towards the Guillemot colony
Guillemots on cliff ledges

Our final stop on Berry Head is the point where we look for passing sea birds but only see more Guillemots and Gannets.

We then began to descend from the headland vis the coast road, which passes through some woodland where we add some common woodland species to our day list, before coming to Breakwater Beach just outside Brixham Harbour. Just as we pass the outdoor swimming pool, I notice a small bird on the rocks, which turns out to be a Purple Sandpiper. We soon find another and spend some time watching and photographing this wading bird which spends most of its time probing in the gaps between rocks looking for food.

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper

Walking back through the harbour to the town, we see a Ruddy Turnstone on the quayside.

That brings us to 107 species in 3 and a bit days birdwatching, the best we have achieved on any of our trips. Not only an excellent number of different species but some fantastic views as well. Fircrest tops the list for me as it is a species I have tried to find many times and failed so it was great to finally catch up with one.

Northern Fulmar [sp] (Fulmarus glacialis)
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima)
Black-legged Kittiwake [sp] (Rissa tridactyla)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Murre [sp] (Uria aalge)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Eurasian Bullfinch [sp] (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

 

The final full day of our trip to south Devon and we decide not to concentrate wholly on wildlife watching today and instead took the Steam Train from Paignton to Kingswear and then a boat trip on the River Dart. Feeling the effect of storm Doris, albeit we were on the southern edge of the storm, there were still strong winds and this no doubt affected the quantity of wildlife seen. Highlights were a Gannet fishing in the river mouth, a Redshank feeding on the mudflats and a Grey Heron flying with a branch nearly as big as itself as it made its way back to the nearby heronry.

Greater Black-backed Gull

Greater Black-backed Gull

On our return to Brixham, we walked out to the end of the breakwater to look for Purple Sandpiper which roosts on a deserted jetty near the end of the breakwater. The wind got stronger as we made our way to the end and it seemed as though the birds, if present, would be hiding inside the jetty. However, we were lucky as we managed to see 5 birds roosting on a joist. A single Common Guillemot was seen on the sea and we made a rapid retreat back to the town to escape the wind. On our way back an obliging Rock Pipit perched for us on the harbour wall.

European Shag

European Shag

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper

Rock Pipit

Rock Pipit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Purple Sandpiper [sp] (Calidris maritima)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Guillemot [sp] (Uria aalge)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)