When a group of Turnstones took off to move further along the seashore, two of the birds seemed a little slow off the mark. They were a bit smaller and paler than the others so I quickly took a couple of pictures before they set off in pursuit of the main group.
Looking at the pictures back at home, it soon became clear that these were two interlopers. Their identity was confirmed when I read in my book that "They (Purple Sandpipers) will also follow behind Turnstones and take food left behind after stones or algae have been flipped over".
Photographs (above) - December 2003.
A couple of months later, when a group of twenty or so Turnstones arrived, I took a closer look and, sure enough, there were the Purple Sandpipers again.
Photographs (below) - February 2004.
In November 2004, the Purple Sandpipers turned up again. Usually in the company of Turnstones, but these two were going it alone. It seems that they still have a bit to learn about the waves!
Photographs - November 2004
There was no sign of the Purple Sandpipers or the Turnstones in December but, in January 2005, the mixed group below were once again feeding busily on the rocks. I was fairly sure that I had seen three Purple Sandpipers but was surprised to find as many as five in one shot when I got home. There could have been more but, as they clamber in and out of the rocks, it is hard to keep track of them.
Photographs - January 2005
We saw little of the Purple Sandpipers in the Winter of 2005/06 but, as the heading photo to this page shows, they were back again the next year. They seemed to vanish for a while but re-appeared in April when the eight photos below were taken. All these pictures will enlarge quite well and illustrate the difference between the Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones.
Some waves alarm one species more than the other, giving a good chance to learn the different tail plumage of the Turnstones (left) and Purple Sandpipers (above and right)
These two birds moved apart from the main group and were looking very 'together', making me wonder whether they should be heading North to their breeding grounds by now?
Photographs - April 2007
The Spring of 2008 saw a sudden increase in numbers, as many as 30 being seen on one occasion.
The video clip below shows some of a group of 20 or so busily feeding on the rocks. They seem prepared to do a fair amount of wave dodging in order to enjoy their food served fresh from the sea.
These birds are still seen from time to time but sightings are somewhat irregular. How much this is due to their feeding routine varying with the weather and sea conditions and how often they are present but unobserved, I don't know. A group of eight or so turned up early in 2016, feeding and wave dodging on the rocks as usual and seemed quite unconcerned by passers by on the shoreline path.