Monday, August 16, 2010

Birds of St Paul: Rock Sandpiper

As with most things in life, the more you chase, the more things run away. The Rock Sandpipers (Calidris or Erolia ptilocnemis) were no exception. The more I tried to get close to them, the more they fled. The day I gave up and said, "Fine! Be that way - I didn't want your picture anyway!", is the day the bird leapt to the nearest rock and posed, gratiously turning from side to side, making eye contact with everyone present as if he had been trained at the Barbizon School for Models. Turns out the little guy knows how to own the runway!

The Rock Sandpiper breeds throughout the northern tundra of the Arctic Pacific coast of Alaska, on the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands as well as Kamchatka, Russia and the Kuril Islands. In winter they migrate south to forage the rocky, ice free coasts.

They are monogamous birds with pair bonds that last several years and both parent takes responsibility for incubation. The Pribilof Island sub-species sports a black patch on his belly.

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