Birding Martha’s Vineyard, A Winter Staple: Purple Sandpipers

by Lanny McDowell on February 23, 2010

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There are some simple reasons I can’t stay away from watching and photographing purples this time of year.  Firstly, they are here on the Vineyard and fairly uncommon most other places.  I know where to find them when I want to, usually up scouring the rocks at Squibnocket, because they are location loyal.  That’s about the habitat, which is the habitat that shows up in the bird photos below.  They are not always there, but they are likely to be there on a bright winter’s day.

The other factor that brings me back to find them is that they are relatively tame when feeding or resting, even with Stella at my side.  Stella is very respectful and patient when it’s clear that I am trying to move slowly or I’m waiting for the sandpipers to approach me as they move among the rocks.

There were only a few yesterday.  So few that I was keeping track of them.  If you spook one, the others nearby are likely to jump as well.  So I was being careful, moving slowly, placing each step among the stones underfoot.  I was moving the camera back and forth between three of them, all quite close.  When I was done and Stella and I maneuvered back out of the rocks to the sand beach, still moving slowly so as not to upset the pipers, we put up two more that were nearer than the ones I photographed.  They must have been resting, not moving, in the stones.  Pretty amazing.  And I am not bad at spotting them either, picking out their shapes.  So that makes five all together.

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Birds are cool!  Lanny

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{ 1 comment }


Soo 02.25.10 at 3:57 pm

It will be interesting to see when they finally leave to head to the tundra to nest.

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