Purple Sandpiper, (Calidris maritima) what brings you 3 down to of all places, Clermont County, Ohio? Living in this part of the state we hear of an occasional sighting up on Lake Erie by those weather resistant birders who venture out to spot these birds as they clamor around on the rocky beaches and jetties of Northern Ohio. Probably the hardiest of all sandpipers, they breed on the tundra of arctic Canada, and winter along the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to Maryland. Of all the places to winter over is along the Atlantic coast where I can only imagine how the ocean is, then to be such a small bird foraging for food in such harsh conditions.
Which bring me back to my first question. What the hell are you doing in Clermont County at one of our state parks? Whatever the circumstances are, when I reported this sighting yesterday evening I never thought in a million years I would be lucky enough to see them. The pictures I saw confirmed that they were indeed Purple Sandpipers, but they wouldn’t stick around for another day, would they?
Well you could call it being blessed by the Birding Gods, luck of the Irish (despite my German heritage), or just being at the right spot at the right time, circumstances I wish not to talk about has lead me to my newest addition to the old “Life List”.
On a cold raw day like today only hunters or birders would be outside. So as I drove into the parking lot of East Fork South Beach area there was just a few cars parked here and there. However it was the crowd of about half a dozen people that lead me to the western side of the beach. Then I saw 2 Robin sized birds scrambling along the beach. Slowing down my walking pace so not to scare off the birds I made my way over to fellow birder Allan Claybon who was busy as usual photographing the birds.
Setting up my rig I started to get some photos of these constantly moving birds. Trying to get focused in on the sandpipers was proving to be really difficult. However I did get a few that proves their identity. And with these birds it’s really necessary to have photo proof. From what I’ve been reading on the internet concerning these birds is that there have been only 3 recorded sightings of these birds inland for the entire state. And being this far south is unheard of.
Out of the 30 pictures I snapped off this one was the best. I’ve never seen such a striking coloration in a sandpiper before, and with the pale gray head and neck next to the deeper color on the wings I can see how it comes across as purple.
When you get the opportunity to see something as special as this, it’s no wonder why I love birding so much.