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White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) Explored 4th November 2011

Although at first glance it may appear confusingly similar to a Dunlin, or even a Little Stint, this is actually a relatively easy bird to identify thanks to its exceptionally long wings. They are so long they protrude clearly beyond the tip of the tail and give the whole bird a characteristically attenuated look. Having established that it has such long wings, the only other bird you can confuse it with is the Baird’s Sandpiper, another rare vagrant. A White-rumped Sandpiper though has a more variegated back pattern with pointed, not rounded feather patterns, less contrast between the patterned breast and plain belly and, if you can see it, a completely white rump rather like a Curlew Sandpiper. Other useful features include a pale base to the lower mandible, a clear supercilium and obvious streaks along the flanks.

 

Their breeding habitat is the northern tundra on Arctic islands in Canada and Alaska. They nest on the ground, usually well-concealed in vegetation.

They are a long distance migrant, wintering in northern South America. They are rare but regular vagrants to western Europe. These birds forage by probing on mudflats or tundra or picking up food by sight in shallow water. They mainly eat insects, mollusks and marine worms, also some plant material.

 

Taken this afternoon at Ballycotton, Co. Cork

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Taken on November 4, 2011