March 7th   Leave a comment

I received news of the purple sandpiper I caught at Roome Bay on the 3rd of February. This was when we were out catching redshanks on the high tide and accidentally caught a colour-ringed purple sandpiper, which also had a Norwegian metal ring on it. I submitted its details via the European ring recovery site ( and got a report back today. The “purp” was ringed as a young bird on the 31st of August last year on Spitsbergen (the Norwegian island that is part of Svalbard). It would have been born sometime in July and may have been preparing to migrate south when it was caught by someone like me on the beach of the main town Longyearbyen. The purple sandpiper then probably flew directly to Scotland, or possibly staged down the Norwegian coast to spend the winter in Crail, arriving sometime in the late autumn. The total distance between its ringing to my recovery is 2,537 km. A fantastic journey for a bird that weighs about 60gm. It was very thin when we caught it, but I hope it has survived this cold winter and will make the return journey to Svalbard in the next couple of months. Then we might even expect to see it again in Crail next winter (and potentially for 20 or so further winters if it can avoid predation or starvation along the way). We might not ever get polar bears in Crail, but many of our wintering waders will have seen them on their travels and they bring a touch of the real Arctic to us.

A Crail purple sandpiper - from Svalbard, its official!

Posted March 7, 2011 by wildcrail in Sightings

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