Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Close Encounters of the Purple Kind

I felt like cheering myself up a bit today, and what better way than to go and look at some nice birds, really nice ones at that. Ones you know for sure you'll not only see but hopefully get really good close views of. The birds I had in mind were the Purple Sandpipers which reside all winter on The Cob at Lyme Regis, just a few miles down the road. It was approaching hide tide when I left home, which is the best time to see them because at low water they leave The Cob and it's immediate environs for the ledges offshore to the east of Lyme. The sea was quite rough when I got there with a brisk southeastery blowing onshore and large waves were periodically breaking over the southernmost end of The Cob. Ideal! I knew where to look for the Purple Sandpipers, and sure enough there they were nestled into the cracks and crevices of the wall behind the aquarium. There were eleven of them and most were taking a snooze. After a while they left their little cubbyholes to feed on the small beach below. I went down there too, sat on the cold, wet and uncomfortable stones in my 'stealth anorak' and waited. Sure enough they got closer and closer, enabling me to take a few photos. Even though they approached to within six feet of me I struggled to get any good ones because they are just so manic! They are really entertaining though scampering back and forth with the waves, they never seem to get caught out either! I love the little noise they make too, it's amazing that you can here it over the noise of the surf. Anyway here's a series of photos of them, hope you enjoy them as much as I did taking them. If not, never mind I'm sure I could muster up a few more Crossbills or even ( if you're lucky) a series of stunning close up waterfowl shots like on Sunday! ;-)

In their cubbyholes.


'Playing chicken' with the surf.

Well camouflaged on the beach. How many can you see? 

A few of my better efforts.

After about half an hour of feeding they flew back to the wall for a rest, as can be seen in this 'stunning' action shot
 (the S3 at its best ;-p)

Back in position.

Here too a short video showing how active they are, although the sound of the surf is very loud (you might want to turn your volume down a notch) you can just make out their little squeaking sounds. You can see and hear why they have been called the 'sea mouse'.


Wilma said...

You sure cheered me up, Karen. Great post. I counted 5 birds in that photo. :-)

Anonymous said...

Another great post Karen. It must be nice to just (literally) pop out to see Purp Sands. Me, i`d have to travel 80 miles for this species.

Karen Woolley said...

Thanks ever so for commenting :D

Wilma - Yes I can see 5 too, but only if I enlarge the photo enough! So glad you enjoyed.

Dean - I consider myself lucky to live where I do. Amazingly whenever I go and look at the Purple ones there's never another birder there. I reckon a lot of locals take them a bit for granted. Most of 'Joe public' don't even notice them!

Gavin Haig said...

Great stuff, Karen. Love the video. I can't think why I spend so much time peering at gulls - those Purple Sands are much more entertaining!

Backward Birder said...

Purple Sandpipers! Gorgeous pics there, Karen. I love the little fellas too, fortunately I live within walking distance of a good spot for them [when not being covered in boulders and concrete, anyway!] - the 'real living coast', just next door to the artificial one! ;). You're right, it is amazing how easily they're overlooked, which is a shame for such cheery little birds.