Sandpiper are one of my favourite birds - part due to childhood
associations to this species at Stag Rocks in Northumberland but mostly
due to their extreme lifesyle and the conditions they not only survive
but thrive under. They spend the winter months in some of the harshest
conditions imaginable - rocky shores pounded by winter storms.
This is a species that really connects the place where I grew up (one
the best Purple Sandpiper locations in England) to where I currently
live in south west Norway (where they are also a common winter
visitor). I have also seen them resting and feeding on offshore vessels
and installations in the Barent's Sea and the North Sea. They were a
common sight whilst doing dimensional control surveys of suction
anchors in Hammerfest.
They are not a particularly shy species and, given the chance,
relatively easy to photograph with the main challenge being finding
them in the first place.
For more details about this species at Stag Rocks, Northumberland,
England click here.
For details of occurrence at Skogsøy, Øygarden,
Norway click here.
Purple Sandpiper, Herdlevær, October 2018
Northumberland, April 2009
Purple Sandpiper, Herdlevær,
Picture taken using a DSLR and a 400mm telephoto lens
Rocks, Northumberland, April 2009
Purple Sandpiper, Herdlevær, December 2011
Picture taken using a DSLR and a 400mm telephoto lens - hand held
Purple Sandpiper, Hjelme, November 2018
This photo was taken from a small boat - often the best way to get
close to this species
Sandpiper on the helideck of an offshore survey vessel - picture taken
using a Nikon Coolpix without any telephoto equipment.
above picture was taken 19th September 2006, onboard a survey /
construction vessel on the Ormen Lange gas field, some 100 km NW of
As with other records I have had of Purple Sandpiper offshore this bird
was typically tame. It fed on the seemingly abundant supply of bugs
that had landed onboard. It may also have found food in some seabed
sediments that were on the deck.
These two shots were taken from a small boat during the SEAPOP count in
Øygarden, 18 February 2010
The colour ringed bird below was ringed in Sweden and was seen there
later the same winter.