Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper-Jones Inlet                             Derek Rogers
I decided to go birding at Jones Beach, West End, this morning. The sky was overcast which made for perfect viewing. I began my loop trek along the East Side of Jones Inlet. Hundreds of Northern Gannets were plunge diving inside the inlet making for excellent, detailed viewing. Common and Red-throated Loons were beneath the feeding frenzy. I headed south along the jetty in hopes to see a Purple Sandpiper. Knowing that there was a decent ESE swell, I figured my chances of viewing a purple would be along the protected inlet side of the jetty. As I continued south, I noticed an approximately 30 individual flock of shorebirds burst off the jetty, regroup in the air, and land within the inside of the rocks. I knew they had to be purples. I've seen plenty of Red Knots foraging and roosting along jetties but these guys landed in low and deep, right along the water edge. I was still several hundred yards from the birds but my scope immediately picked up on a group of Purple Sandpipers picking along the inside of the jetty. Through the years I've noticed that Purple Sandpipers are not very shy. They do have a comfort zone but this group was fairly approachable. I counted 19 individuals and they allowed for some great digiscoping. The photographs and videos were taken with my iPhone, manually held against my Vortex Razor HD spotting scope. Pardon the poor video quality, for some reason the pixelation is poor on blog spot. For more, clear videos please click on my Flickr link along the right side of the page.

While not very uncommon Purple Sandpipers are one of my favorite shorebird species. You will rarely see a purple anywhere other than rocks and jetties. If you are looking to see a Purple Sandpiper, the winter is generally your best bet in NY, although I have seen a purple in June along the rocks at Great Gull Island. They breed during the summer up in Canada's arctic tundra and have the northernmost Winter range of any shorebird species. Unlike most shorebirds, Purple Sandpipers are known to exhibit long-term pair bonding and will maintain a monogamous relationship for most of their lives.

I've seen many Purple Sandpipers throughout the years but regardless, I always get excited to view this wonderful bird. Below are some more digiscope shots from the day.

   Red-throated Loon                                                  Derek Rogers    

Mixed Shorebird Flock (Dunlin, Black-bellied Plover, Sanderling)


  1. What a great purple sandpiper picture! And that mixed shorebird picture is amazing. Trust me I've tried to get those type of pics before. Always end up with rosy red knees, torched elbows and a sand blasted tummy from all the belly crawling. Cheers Derek!

    1. Derek's posts remind me of my more ambulant days as a upstart naturalist. After the Navy I moved back to Long Island in my late twenties to show off my Adonis like figure on the south shore beaches and attend college at Hofstra. Earned a degree in the natural sciences and became addicted to birding. Oh, the good ol' days of sneaking up on flocks of shorebirds.

  2. That was a fun, memorable day indeed. I hear you with the sun/sand burned knees and elbows! All part of the fun!

  3. That purple sandpiper nailing that fucus is superb bro! Great quality for its purpose!


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