Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Purple Sandpiper in Bridlington

With the winds dropping and the rain ceasing today I took a brief stroll around Bridlington Harbour to have a look at the gulls in the hope that there might be something other than the regular Herring and Black-headed Gulls. Apart from a single Great Black-backed there weren't! Still it was worth looking at the Herring Gulls to brush up on ageing criteria. It was possible to place birds into at least three different age groups. One adult bird had a clean white head unusually for this time of year and one first-winter bird had quite a pronounced hook to its beak.
Herring Gull Larus argenteus 2nd winter

1st winter bird with abnormal bill

Pale 2nd winter bird

Adult Herring Gull Larus argenteus sporting a clean white head in January

There are always a few Turnstone Arenaria interpres running around on the harbour walls looking for scraps of food and they provide good opportunities for close-up photography. One bird had only one foot but it did not appear to be disadvantaged in any way as it set about tackling the local fishermen's dropped bait.
Winter plumaged Turnstone Arenaria interpres Bridlington harbour

Turnstone minus one foot!

The surprise bird was a single Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima searching for scraps along the harbour walls and on the pathways around the feet of people walking by. I always expect to see these birds on rocks and jetties that are exposed to waves, wind and foam not running about outside a fish and chip shop!

Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima outside a chippie

Very obliging Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima - not a crashing wave in sight!

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