Sunday, 28 July 2013

Arctic waders

Adult Wood Sandpiper
Here are a few photographs of waders and their chicks which I was studying recently in northern Norway. Part of the work, which is organised by my brother Rab, involves finding and catching both adults and chicks to ring them in order to help discover such information as where they live in the non-breeding period, whether they return to nesting or natal sites, and how long they live.

A pair of wood sandpipers, ringed and ready for release
The most abundant wader species in the tundra mires is the Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola and the Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus is one the less common and seldom seen species. Most of the waders live in extensive mires, hidden by lush growth of sedges and other marsh plants.

An adult Broad-billed Sandpiper is measured -  the sexes are similar in plumage, but can be differentiated by size
Wader nests and chicks are notoriously difficult to find due their cryptic plumage and seclusive behaviour, arctic-breeding species are especially so. Wood and Broad-billed Sandpipers nest in the mires and it takes very specialized skills and a very very keen eye to find them.

A Broad-billed Sandpiper nest and chicks lie hidden in a mire

Broad-billed Sandpiper chicks in the nest

Four Wood Sandpiper chicks, a typical brood size
A single Wood sandpiper chick is extremely difficult to see when creeping through the sedge

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