Friday, February 04, 2011

Colour Ringed Sanderling - South Harbour - Fair Isle - Feb. 4th 2011

Where the heck did this come from?

I was looking for wood and other treasures washed up on the beach after last nights gale with ninety mile an hour winds. I noticed that the large stones had all been move to the side exposing a field of small pebbles. I thought to myself I hope it stays this way, as it would be nice to lay on in the summer and the waders would like it and maybe we would get a few more Sanderlings. (funny but true) The beach was a hive of activity and the mass of Trunstones and Purple Sandpipers didn't seem to mind my presence, like I was just another sheep eating seaweed. Walking through the new piles of seaweed over the large stones of the beach I almost literally stumble upon the white wader. A Sandlering! first of the year and not very common in Winter here on Fair Isle. 

I then notice the little white rings flicking across the sand...

It's Coloured Ringed! I had to get a record shot! I ran (moved faster than normal) home to get my camera. Huff, puff & phew it was still there! The Sanderling had moved to the far end of the beach so I sat on a rock and waited for it to move back towards me while day light fails. I knew if I startled one Turnstone the whole beach would clear and that patience is a virtue. Sure enough it move back so I could get these record shots with my rubbish camera.

Ring Colours - White over Green & White over Red  - no Metal ?

Very Christmassy!

The identification rings looked bright maybe new?

I have revised my post and added this zoomed photo. I can't see a metal ID ring? only colour rings?
Originally I was confused by this as all the colour ringed Starlings and Wheatears on Fair Isle have a 4 ring system with 1 ring being metal 3 coloured. So I assumed the white ring in shadow was white grey aluminium? after a comments from viewer of this post I looked at this photo more closely with both legs out of shadows and It does not seem to have a metal ID ring in this photo?

The ringer's comment below suggest the Sanderling metal ID ring is on the thigh (tibia) totally unseen in photos. plus the bird has lost a green flag ring somewhere over the past 4 years?
Originally ringed in Sandgerdi SW Iceland - May 21 2007 here is a link the Sanderling Project.

Sanderling... Where oh where did you come from?
With Last nights Storm Who Knows? North America? Siberia? North Ronaldsay?
If you you have any ideas please leave your comments below or use my contact info:
Cheers! Tommy 

Purple Sandpipers! more than I have ever seen 25 to 30 of them on the South Harbour Beach.


  1. Very Interesting, try this web site

  2. Sorry, the web site I recommended has ringing information and you may uncover this Sanderlings history.

  3. I sent in the info but who knows how long it will take?

  4. I sent in info I photographed on a juv med gull metal ring and info came back in a couple of days.

  5. Dear Tom, this bird has been caught as part of my colour-ringing project on sanderlings. It should also have had a green flag (extended colour-ring) on the lower left tarsus, but it apparently has lost it over the years. It was ringed on 21 May 2007 on the beach of Sandgerdi, SW Iceland. It has only been observed by us on 23 and 25 May 2007, until now!

    I would be very interested to see a picture that clearly shows the position of the metal ring (should be on the right tibia, but I am not sure if I can see that on your pictures).

    More information about my colour-ring project can be found here:

    Thanks for paying attention to these nice birds!
    Jeroen Reneerkens (the Netherlands)

  6. Thanks Jeroen! If I see it again I'll let you know. But, I feel lucky to get this close just once.