Friday, August 10, 2012

Wonderfully close encounters with Calidris maritima

Beautiful at any time of year, before this summer I can't recall seeing Purple Sandpipers still resplendent in their subtly stunning breeding plumage. Better still, I've had memorable experiences with these unassuming shorebirds over the last couple of weeks, the best of which occurred on the Brigg the other day.

With the tide well up and the Brigg free from disturbance, I crawled over to the last section of unsubmerged rock to get closer to the small band of waders nearby - Knot, Turnstones, Dunlins and Ringed Plovers - and sat cross-legged, taking few a photos and enjoying the sunshine. A weak chirrup from very close by had me glance down at the ledge within an arm's length, where this bird sat, stone-still, looking at me.

Assuming it'd take flight within a few seconds, I kept still and enjoyed the experience. However, the bird then decided that, far from being a threat, I wasn't worth worrying about, and started to feed avidly right by my side.

Way too close to get pictures, I was more than content to be entertained this way for a good five minutes, before the bird then stretched a couple of times, and decided to take a snooze. Crawling away a few metres to find the minimum focusing distance (and despite the sun's glare), I fired off a few shots, which at least illustrate the superb feather detail on these freshly-arrived northern visitors.