“CHECK OUT THE WEB” (2) SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS ON ABACO


Semipalmated Sandpiper, Abaco (Bruce Hallett)

“CHECK OUT THE WEB” (2) SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS ON ABACO

Having recently headlined a post for SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS with a web-related title, I’m repeating it for Abaco’s other part-webbed shorebird, the semipalmated sandpiper. Either it’s so apposite that it doesn’t need changing; or else I lack the imagination to think up something new…

Semipalmated Sandpiper (juv), Abaco (Bruce Hallett)
semipalmateThis attractive little sandpiper Calidris pusilla has the partially webbed feet that give it its name. In spring and fall these ‘peeps’ are the most numerous shorebirds on Abaco but they are just passing through on their migration further south – so-called ‘transients’. Flocks of these birds may be arriving any moment now on a beach near you. The signifiers are black legs, a short, straight dark bill, and a body that is white underneath and brown /gray on top, tinged lighter on the head and neck. 

Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla (MDF) 

SO THEY’RE EASY TO SPOT ON THE SHORELINE?

Not really, I’m afraid. This species is very easy to confuse with other small shorebirds (with which they happily mingle), especially the less common western sandpiper which has a slightly longer and downturned bill. It takes an experienced birder to tell them apart. The most reliable way – to see the feet to check for the partial webbing between the toes – is far from easy. A photograph of the bird as it picks its way across sand, tide margins or mud may be best, if you can zoom in on the feet. The webbing is just visible in both the images above; and more clearly in the one below.

A recent SPSP from Bruce Hallett, in which the semipalmation can more easily be seen Semipalmated Sandpiper (Bruce Hallett)

WHERE DO SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS LIVE?

These are birds of the far north – Canada’s tundras and Alaska, close to water – where they breed and lay their eggs in scrapes. Rather sweetly, the male makes several prospective nests for the female to choose her favourite and furnish with grasses etc. Both adults share incubation duties. The chicks are independent almost as soon as they are hatched. Then in early fall they head many miles south to warmer places, of which Abaco is one of the most northerly, principally as a stopover for rest before continuing their journey to the coastal margins of South America. The migrating flocks may contain tens of thousands of birds. Of the many range maps around, this one from the excellent avibirds.com shows the marked contrast between the summer and winter habitats very clearly. 

Semipalmated Sandpiper distribution map (Avibirds.com)

Semipalmated Sandpiper (Dick Daniels Wiki)

HOW DO THEY COMPARE IN SIZE WITH OTHER SANDPIPERS?

The SPSP is one of the smallest shorebirds, the female being slightly larger than the male. This image shows 2 of them in the company of a much larger white-rumped sandpiper (also a transient on Abaco) for comparison.White-rumped Sandpiper + 2 semi-palmated(Woody Bracey)1 copy 2

Time now to get the binoculars out (now where on earth are they?) and patrol the beach to catch the first of these little birds as they begin to arrive in considerable numbers during their fall migration.Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Abaco (Alex Hughes)

Credits: Bruce Hallett (1, 2, 4), MDF (3), Avibirds (infographic), Dick Daniels (5), Woody Bracey (6) [& comments – cheers], Alex Hughes (7)

8 thoughts on ““CHECK OUT THE WEB” (2) SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS ON ABACO

  1. Pingback: Spanish plover couples fight climate change | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Hello Rolling Harbour personnel:
    Firstly I’ve to say that until today I had no knowledge of your web site and will say it is very nice and informative.

    Unfortunately it has come to my attention that you have used one of my copyrighted photos in this article. Even though you have kindly given credit, your company/personnel never contacted me to ask my permission to use the photo. This is not only illegal but also it is a violation of my copyright which is shown at the bottom right of the photo and registered w/the U.S. copyright office.

    Feel free to contact me via email to explain why this happened and what course of action you will
    offer to rectify the matter.

    Best regards
    Tom

    Like

    • Hi Tom, there are no personnel at Rolling Harbour, just me, so this is entirely my responsibility. As you may imagine I got a shock to see this comment (via email) and went to the post at once to check it. You are completely right, of course, and I am completely in the wrong. I didn’t contact you for use permission and for that I most sincerely apologise.

      I was very puzzled how this had come about – I am (I thought) a scrupulous permission-getter / credit-giver. In order to illustrate the ‘webbing’ point, I used a couple of Wiki-sourced images, and although I don’t always specifically credit ‘open source’ material I usually do so with photos, as I did for this post (eg ‘mdf’). But your image clearly isn’t in the ‘open source’ category.

      It was only when I checked the end credits and saw I’d also acknowledged CWFNJ that I saw what I had done. I have ongoing links (almost daily at the moment) with CWFNJ, primarily Todd Pover and Stephanie Egger in connection with Piping Plovers and the CWFNJ winter work on Abaco. I am also in contact with Northside Jim, whose photos I sometimes use (with permission); Tom Reed, whose has several photos in my book ‘The Birds of Abaco’; Michelle Stantial, one of whose summer-ringed chicks “Tuna” we recently located on Abaco; and Emile Heiser, who I see wrote wrote the text on the CWFNJ website page that accompanies your SP sandpiper photo (and which is where I must have obtained it).

      This is by way of explanation, not excuse, because your image clearly bears your ©, which I must have seen at the time to credit you. I can only think that I had found a great shot illustrating semipalmation on a site I am very familiar with, and all too casually dragged out your image on the assumption that it was somehow ok to do so. Which it wasn’t, of course, and I am sorry to have taken what might be described as a thoughtless and lazy approach.

      As soon as I saw your email, I took down the image forthwith, removed your name from the credits, and removed the image from my blog’s ‘media library’ so that it is not still in the system. I’d be happy to put an apology on the page, although perhaps without the image and the background details, that might look a little strange. I hope you feel I have taken immediate and appropriate action to sort this out. Several other people commented on this post and some or all will no doubt automatically get this exchange, so there’ll be some public shaming of me too.

      Kind regards, Keith @ Rolling Harbour

      Like

      • Hello Keith

        Thank you kindly for your quick reply and I appreciate that!

        As you may have noticed on the Conserve Wildlife NJ web site, I am one of their listed photographers and also have been a volunteer in their endangered species

        program for nearly 15 years now.

        Mistakes happen and no apology is required. If you still wish to use the photo and since you have a working relationship with CWFNJ, I give my permission to use that particular photo if you still wish. I have no problem donating an image so long as I know about it.

        Again thank you for your kind words and reply Keith and if you still find you would like to use that particular photo, please accept my authorization to do so.

        Best regards

        Tom

        Thomas W. Gorman

        47 Meadowview Avenue

        Rockaway, NJ 07866

        ~NJ DEP Fish & Wildlife WCC Volunteer

        ~Wildcat Ridge WMA Hawk Watch counter

        ~Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ~photographer

        ~Edison Wetlands Assoc. / Wildnewjersey.tv columnist & photographer

        Websites for photos and Nature’s Focus column:

        Flickr ~ Facebook ~ WildNJ

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for that Tom. A wrong righted and a lesson learned! I’ve actually moved the images on the page around now to close the gap (and deleted your image anyway) so I’ll leave it; and check directly with you in future of course.

        Like

      • Hello Keith

        Understood and thank you.

        Best regards

        Tom

        Thomas W. Gorman

        47 Meadowview Avenue

        Rockaway, NJ 07866

        ~NJ DEP Fish & Wildlife WCC Volunteer

        ~Wildcat Ridge WMA Hawk Watch counter

        ~Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ~photographer

        ~Edison Wetlands Assoc. / Wildnewjersey.tv columnist & photographer

        Websites for photos and Nature’s Focus column:

        Flickr ~ Facebook ~ WildNJ

        Like

  3. Semipalmated Sandpipers are actually extremely rare in winter in Florida and the Bahamas. They winter in South America. In spring and fall they are the most numerous shorebirds on Abaco but they are just passing through. Next most common is the slightly smaller Least Sandpiper which has yellow legs, and then the Western Sandpiper which has a slightly longer and downturned bill.
    Differentiating these small shorebirds is not easy and many birders just lump them as “peeps”.
    Nice article with great photos.
    Elwood D. Bracey, MD

    Like

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