Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Sanderling....

Sanderling. Brian Rafferty. one of my most favourite waders, its habit of persistently chasing the ripples like a clockwork toy is both endearing and unique.

The Sanderling is a long distance migrant which breeds in the high Arctic tundra, the Ribble Estuary holds internationally significant numbers during the winter along with the Wash and the estuaries of the Thames and Alt. Two groups use the beaches of GB, one of which comprises of migrants which stage here for two to three weeks in August and May on their way between breeding and wintering grounds, data suggests that most of these birds originate in Greenland and some continue as far as South Africa, although others remain here throughout the winter. The second group are primarily winter visitors originating from W.Siberia, although many of these remain in W.Europe, some continue south into W.Africa. However, this is certainly not the case in our recording area of N.Lancashire where it is regarded as a rare winter visitor, for example in 2009 the species count didn't reach a three figure number in both spring and autumn counts combined, the winter WeBS counts rarely reach three figures either, though one in February 1991 did reach almost 300 birds. As for passage birds, well you've just got to be at the right place, at the right time, on the right day/s.

On a personal level I can recall at least two excellent experiences with the Sanderling, one of which I had with John Leedal when, on the 24 May 1997 at Ainsdale we estimated 10,000 birds, to be honest I never expect to have this experience ever again. The other observation was at Cockersands when one or two counts over a couple of days peaked on the 31 May 2007 when I counted 120 birds, a number not seen here since and I do wonder when will the Sanderling favour Cockersands in such a good numbers again enroute to the high Arctic.

Whilst all too rare a bird in our area in Lancashire, the Sanderling is known to be a site-faithful species which returns to the same wintering areas year on year, they are also long lived, the current record being of a bird over 17 years old, one individual ringed on the Wash was recaptured 13 times over the course of 12 years.

Sanderling. Brian Rafferty.

At a cursory glance this photograph could almost be a 'whats that bird' picture. Thanks to Brian Rafferty  for the photogaphs....excellent as ever.  


Warren Baker said...

Hi Pete,

Another informative post.

I'm just sitting here watching foxes in the garden, one's a three legged one :-)

Brian Rafferty said...

Pete. All about one of our favourite birds and as Warren says an informative post as ever. Glad my pics helped for illustration.

Weather could be a bit kinder this week...lets hope so..have a good one.

Pete Woodruff said...

Interesting you are both able to post comments - thanks - as there a many blogs we cannot to so, a long standing Blogger issue/problem taking a long time to resolve. There are obviously two set ups for posting comments, this one successfully so the other not so.

The Broadstairs Birder said...

fantastic blog,Pete.Marc Heath alerted me to it.Great layout and very informative. I Have recently started one called The Broadstairs Birder.If you get a chance to take a look i would appreciate it.Any tips greatly received. Thanks Phil Parker.

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for this Phil. I'll take a look at your blog and probably make a link to in in due course. Anyway I can help I will, do let me know of anything you need though please note I'm just a common birder like anyone else and am an authority on nothing.