Skip to main content

Rock Sandpiper

Rock Sandpiper

Of all the birds listed in my head as ‘most wanted’ on Vancouver Island, Rock Sandpiper is pretty much at the top, alongside Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. The season has come and gone again for the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper but for the Rock it is prime time! I made a real effort last year to find this bird with no luck. A few were reported in Victoria, but for one reason or another I never made it down there, and it seemed that these birds were one day wonders anyway. With December just around the corner and time slipping away, it was time to go where they have been historically reported; The Sunshine Coast!
            My birding friend Mike Ashbee and I discussed doing this trip on a few occassions and finally got around to making it happen. We left Parksville at 4:45 a.m. and headed up to Courtney where we took the 6:30 a.m. ferry to Powell River. We then made our way to Saltery Bay where we took another ferry to Earls Cove, taking the Sunshine Coast Highway 101 down through Sechelt. We made a few stops en-route including one stop where we saw an interesting shorebird with some Black Turnstone, off shore on some rocks. We couldn’t make a definite identification, as though it looked good for Rock Sandpiper, we couldn’t dismiss Dunlin, which looks similar at distance. We unforunatley had to carry on without being certain.
Black Turnstone, Surfbird and Rock Sandpiper
            Our Plan was to go to Wilson Creek, an area that is famed for Rock Sandpiper, but we made a stop just short of that, at Chapman’s Creek. We noticed a sand-spit with lots of gulls on it, so decided to check it out. The gulls were obvious, but on closer inspection we noted many shorebirds including Surfbird, Black Oystercatcher and Black Turnstone.
            We made our way along the beach, over some rocks, and hid behind some logs that had been washed up on the shore, so as not to disturb the birds. Within seconds a Rock Sandpiper came from behind the logs and began feeding with the other shorebirds! We were both absolutely ecstatic to get this bird, and after we finally calmed down, we settled in for an hour and enjoyed watching the dynamics of this mixed group of amazing birds, feed and squabble as they gorged themselves on the barnacle covered shells. Our final count was fifteen Rock Sandpiper, thirty Surfbird, fifty Black Turnstone and ten Black Oystercatcher. To the best of my knowledge this population of Rock Sandpiper breeds along the Berring Sea and can winter as far as California.


Popular posts from this blog

Pied-billed Grebe

Silly o'clock and a drive to Summerset + a 2 1/2 hour watch at Ham Wall RSPB Reserve produced good looks at my first British P ied-billed Grebe. We turned up just after eight and just in time to miss this North American mega by  minutes! Little Grebes kept us on our toes but we had to wait it out until about 10:40 am when it appeared from the corner where it had disappeared. There was a nice crowd here, all remaining hopeful and humorous during this very cold vigil. This little beauty made a b-line to open water, affording all great views. Bonus bird at this site was a  Great White Egret .

Stains Moor

Today I checked the Staines Reservoir for some reported birds including Black Turn and Ruff. My target birds were not relocated but I did get another year bird: Wheatear . This was across the road; perched on a fence post. After an hour I headed to Staines Moor , a site I have never been to before. Good directional signs were non existent and I ended up asking the locals. It takes about 25 minutes from parking to actually getting onto the moor. This route is basically two public footpaths. It is definitely worth it and is a fantastic site with good visibility in all directions.The River Colne meanders through; making it very attractive and good for wildlife.  One of the features here that really stands out is the amount of yellow meadow ant hills; a favored perching spot for Wheatear I here. Birds seen included Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Linnet, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Robin, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Black-headed Gull, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby, Green

Kefalonia -Greece 2015

K efalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands, (700 sq km) and is located off the west coast of Greece. Though, in recent times, it is most notably known as the location for Captain Corellis Mandolin; it also has lots of history, interesting geography and endangered fauna.  As it sits in the earthquake zone it has seen lots of changes, especially the 1953 earthquake which badly affected all but the northern town of Fiskado. Mount Ainos dominates the landscape and at 1628 meters can be seen from most areas. One of the most famous residents is the endangered Loggerhead Turtle which breed on the southern beaches.   What follows is a short trip report highlighting my casual observations from 23rd August – 30th August 2015. Though this was not a birding holiday, I did manage a few morning sorties in various areas and hope that this will give some indication of what to expect. Kephalonia is not a ‘birding destination’ but for those of you who visit, a little effort will afford