December 26th   Leave a comment

The colour-ringed purple sandpiper resident on the rocks below the car park at Kingsbarns Beach

The colour-ringed purple sandpiper resident on the rocks below the car park at Kingsbarns Beach

Purple sandpipers are a feature of the rocky shores of the East Neuk at Christmas. The easiest place to see them are at high tide at Kingsbarns Beach, on the rocks just to the north of the car park. Although mostly inconspicuous they can’t really hide as well among the rocks when they are all submerged. On the highest tides some “purps” even feed on the strandline of the beach showing themselves well. Then you realise they are not shy, they just occur in places where they are hard to see. People don’t feature much in their life: they occupy the rocky shore habitat that we leave pretty much alone and breed in the high Arctic where polar bears are still more common than people. John Anderson saw the colour-ringed purple sandpiper that is a winter resident below the car park at Kingsbarns again this week. As the ringers in Svalbard told him when he emailed them about it – “it will pretty much be there every winter for the rest of its life”. Like my redshanks and pretty much every wader along the Crail coast, every individual has its own winter home that it will return to every year (stick with what you know!). The Svalbard ringers caught this bird as an adult in June in 2010 and haven’t seen it again on its breeding ground, although it will be somewhere on that remote island every summer among the polar bears.

Posted December 27, 2014 by wildcrail in Sightings

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