Sunday, October 18, 2015

Blenheim White-rumped Sandpipers & Some Vitamin N

White rumped Sandpiper at Blenheim

White rumped Sandpiper at Blenheim
Huge numbers of  White rumped Sandpipers have been showing up in Ontario during their southbound migration this year. Their main migratory path is through the central provinces and states. Ontario's blogosphere (See Mike Burrell's White Rumped Sandpiper Posting) and Ebird hinted unprecedented numbers --- flocks as 100-300 were seen throughout Ontario over the last month (sightings of 1-10 birds are normally expected). I wanted to witness this specticle over the last two or three weeks, but couldn't make it out to any good shorebird habitat till this weekend. I thought I had missed the boat - but a recent e-bird posting from just this past Wednesday hinted that many were still around, as many as 60 at Blenheim SL. So after work on Friday, I checked out Blenheim and was happy to see that there were still some good shorebirds to be seen. It was very windy and very cold. It almost felt like it was going to snow actually.

White rumped Sandpipers in flight - Their long primaries extend past their tails when at rest.

Birds seen include Willet, Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral, Dunlin, and of course --- White rumped Sandpipers. Several American Pipits were very present as well. Savannah Sparrows were seen as well as hundreds of Rudy Ducks and Northern Shovelers in the deeper ponds.

Blenheim Shorebirds - Labeled!

American Pipit

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White rumped Sandpipers have one of the farthest migrations imaginable - They breed in Canada's Arctic and they fly all the way to the southern reaches of South America during the winter.  Some cool things that these birds might observe in the Arctic Circle is the Aurora Borealis - Northern Lights. They might also witness the "midnight sun" which the arctic circle experiences - Several months of daylight - uninterrupted by a sunset and night time due to the tilt of the earth's axis.  It seems cool to think about how they chase the sun --- they are always in a constant Spring-Summer-Fall-Migrate cycle.  They arrive late in the springtime - as late as June and migrate south a little later as well. Its amazing to think that these birds , weighing only 1.4–2.1 oz (allaboutbirds) make all this effort to avoid winter and to have access to food. Its just part of their nature. Amazing.

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The local Essex County Field Naturalists group forwarded this video about "Vitamin N" (N for nature). Its a 10 minute presentation from an MBA grad student about nature. Its pretty good, and if you are reading this page... I'm sure you would agree whole heartedly with his message. One of the nature scenes that he provides looks to be Nova Scotia's Cabot trail if I'm not mistaken.

Click here for the link to the video:

This article in the Windsor Star was about students planting Dense Blazing star in a small tallgrass prairie behind St Clair College.

Good birding!



  1. Good post.
    Looks like Willie the Willet has not been seen since your visit!

    1. Blake, I guess I win free pass to Blenheim SL for next year. Thanks for the update-dm



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