The Secret Purple Sandpiper

Back in July I saw a wader on the rocky coast. I didn’t recognise it so I knew I had to get a decent photograph of it.

Purple Sandpiper - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


Those beautiful pale yellowy-orange legs and that distinctively subtle-coloured gently down-curving beak made it look like a colour co-ordinated dream. I got a little closer:

Purple Sandpiper - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


It seemed to be crouched a little. Perhaps it was a little nervous at my presence.

Purple Sandpiper - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


I took it very slowly and got a little closer:

Purple Sandpiper - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


What a bird!

Purple Sandpiper - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


Back home I check its identity. “Purple sandpiper in breeding plumage”, is what I’m told.

I check the RSPB’s website:

“A couple of pairs nest in Scotland, but this species is mainly a winter visitor to almost any rocky coast in the UK. Most are found in Orkney, Shetland and along the east coast of Scotland and northern England – it is scarce south of Yorkshire, other than Devon and Cornwall. The breeding areas in Scotland are kept secret to protect the birds from egg thieves and disturbance.

It is listed on Schedule 1 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act.”

Purple Sandpiper - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


Lower down the RSPB’s page I see “UK breeding: 1-3 pairs”. What a great opportunity to see a wonderful bird.

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