Starting and ending with a Purple Patch

Purple Sandpiper  December 2022.

 I started 2022 taking pictures of Purple Sandpipers at Battery Point, Portishead, Bristol and now I have ended the year in the same place taking photographs of these very confiding little waders. Read here my previous blog from January.

Purple Sandpiper January 2022

Me perched up on the rocks ( Photo courtesy of Paul Joy)

On this particular occasion my friend Paul Joy and I were accompanied by Nicola Johns on what will be our last Three Amigos trip of 2022.

For the last few days I have been going cold turkey ( more than just the literal sense at this festive time of year) desperate to get some birding in but the rain has put a damp squib on any chance of that - the weather has been shocking.

So when it looked like there was going to be a break in the weather - a window of opportunity opened up and we decided to head over to Portishead and try our luck with the Purples.

The Three Amigos turned up well wrapped up. I think between us three we were wearing enough fleece layers to kit out a small army. The wind was bitingly cold and blowing a gale.

The rocks at Battery Point are quite precarious to walk upon. They are very slippery and you really need to watch your footing. Monopod and walking sticks may be a good idea if you every visit to try and stop you slipping and falling.

Battery Point

After scanning the rocky shoreline as the tide came in we spotted two Purple Sandpipers feeding on the rocks. These waders are very confiding if you keep a respectful distance and will often walk up really close to you as the tide pushes them in.

The Amigos found there own perches on the rocks and settled down to enjoy these little members of the Calidris genus forage for food in the rock crevices. The wind was blowing into our faces and at times I had a job to see anything as either my eyes were watering or my glasses were steaming up.

Purple Sandpiper foraging on the rocks

Gradually the tide pushed the Purple Sandpipers closer to us and we all had fantastic views.
At this time of year these waders are in their winter plumage so its difficult to see that purple tinge that some of their plumage has.
One of the birds got so close I was able to take quite a detailed picture of its feathery plumage.

The plumage close up

I think when I viewed the sandpipers from a distance and light was good I could see more of a purple colour if I am honest.

There is a purple hint to the greyish plumage.

The beaks of sandpipers are almost prehensile. Rather than be very stiff the ends of the beaks are very flexible and I imagine they are packed with nerve endings so that they can feel invertebrates that hide in the crevices of the rocks they forage on.

Close up head shot showing the malleable beak

 Well, I must admit what a wonderful way it has been to finish off my year photographing birds.

Prior to 2022 I had never seen a Purple Sandpiper and they were a lifer for me when I first saw them in January. Seeing them again in December has been like having a late Christmas Present.

As ever what made the day that more enjoyable was to share that experience with good friends.

So thats my birding done for 2022 .

 May I wish my readers all the best for 2023 - Good Health and Happiness to you all. 

Thanks for reading.

Best Wishes

Blair The Wildilife Oculus.


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