Saturday, May 14, 2011

Purple Sandpiper in St. Agatha

I found a Purple Sandpiper on the Pelletier Island causeway on Long Lake in St. Agatha on Saturday 14 May 2011.  This was unexpected because Purple Sandpipers are just about unknown in Maine away from the rocky coastline where they overwinter.

The causeway is a low rocky road with little vegetation.  It links the island which is part of St. Agatha with the eastern (Madawaska) shore.

The bird was feeding along on the rocks and was fairly easy to approach and I was able to get the documentation photos you see here..

This little shorebird really doesn't have much that sets it apart from other sandpipers.  Note the heavily gray-streaked head with the dark crescent in front of the eye.  Also the orange-ish base to a medium length dark bill.  The legs are short and orangey-yellow.  The belly was relatively unmarked and the neck and sides were streaky.  On the back were some fresh black feathers with white margins.  (My books say that if you could pluck one of these back feathers and hold it up to the light, you would see a deep purple iridescence that gives this sandpiper its name.)

When a rattly truck went by, the bird flushed and flew a bit and I was able to see the tail was light with a dark black center. I didn't notice any pattern of the wings.

The bird was a first for me in Aroostook county.  An unexpected discovery for sure.


grammie g said...

Hi Bill....I somehow have lost you on my list to follow, and thought you hadn't posted anything for awhile....hmmmm was at One Jackjaw Birding blog and saw on the sidebar this post ...alot of odd siteings going on up in the county...the first thing you know I may just come back to the county too there are times I miss living up there !!

Hilke Breder said...

Interesting post, Bill. Nice sighting! I saw a flock of Purple Sandpipers only once in the winter on the breakwater in Gloucester harbor. said...

thank for share