Close up Action
I like Sanderling. Perhaps the ultimate roof-of the world shorebird? Maybe Knot deserves that status too. I am thinking of the fact that Sanderling only breed in the High Arctic zone. Other species also breed there, but their breeding ranges usually extend further south as well. I certainly didn’t know, ’till very recently, that (sometimes) 2 subspecies are recognized. Nominate alba (Greenland east to NE Siberia) and rubidus (N Canada). Don’t think you can tell them apart though - really. Anyway, this is why I learnt a little more about Sanderling:
Misfortune happens. Just a bit sad when a juvenile male Sanderling, having just made its maiden flight from breeding grounds in the Arctic Tundra, hit the overhead wires in the Sheep Field at Spurn in late August and broke both leg and wing. I am not pleased when it happens. A mark of human presence hindering, not helping, wildlife. Why male? - wing length!
I have however benefited from such events. I have been collecting birds wings for many years – and learnt much from it. Here’s then, a little study based on the wing of this juvenile Sanderling together with a couple of live birds photographed nearby.
juvenile Sanderling, September 8th 2010, Spurn (just moulted a couple of upperpart feathers). The extra-frantic activity of this one and its 2 companions - sand flying everywhere as they fed (look closely at the photo) indicated to me that they were perhaps ‘just in’. There can be a slight hyper-manickness about birds, empty-bellied which have just completed a journey of up to several thousand miles.
outerwing of juvenile Sanderling, Spurn August 2010. The pattern of white on the inner primaries interests me. It fully covers the outer web of the basal half of the feather. The amount of white in the same area on Dunlin can be useful in separating different races – but you need amazing photos or specimens unfortunately!
Ever see one of those illustrations showing how the waders bill length correlated with their prefered food items? Guess this one decided he didn’t get a long enough bill.
Head needs to go in too!