Purple Sandpiper

Catch-you-out plumage

Was up early this morning for 1.5 hours of visible migration – in the hope of a pass-over Lapland Bunting. No such luck. 97 Lapwing flying up the valley from the east and 45 Swallows south – no bad start to autumn 2010 for a ‘Vis Migger’ whose experience could perhaps be described as just moulting from  juvenile plumage.

Which leads me on nicely (cringe!) – I am now playing catch-up with birds seen last week – thanks to Collared Flycatcher distractions. Last Sunday morning a Purple Sandpiper was watched at close range briefly near the Warren. I got there too late to see it -kinda wondering what plumage it would be in – see what I could learn. Hooray! Later in the afternoon it appeared on the beach in front of my caravan window- trying to fly into the NW 6 wind and sand blast – not much fun.

I could see it was well-marked with broad white fringes on the upperparts, indicating juvenile plumage. As this is rarely seen I was glad to discover Rich Swales had already photographed it earlier.

Moulting juvenile to first winter Purple Sandpiper. Spurn 29th August 2009. Rich Swales.

Most of the upperpart feathers are fresh juvenile apart from a few newly moulted 1st winter feathers on the scapulars (darker centred with dull grey fringes). However it appears that the head and body plumage has already moulted more extensively into ‘winter dress’ – losing the streakiness of fresh-out-the-nest juveniles. (This plumage of Purple Sandpiper, especially when seen unexpectedly and out-of-context has been mistaken for other species such as Sharp-tailed Sandpiper). Great value bird!

Moulting juvenile to first winter Purple Sandpiper. Spurn 29th August 2009. Rich Swales.

2 thoughts on “Purple Sandpiper

  1. Jim Middleton

    Only just found your blog, great stuff. Will have to look out for those pesky juvs here in Scarborough. Oh well, I guess I’d better get out onto the Castle in search of a Greenish (I’ll go for a real one this year I think 😉 )



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