[Tweeters] Rock Sandpipers - yes!

Neil Hayward neil.hayward at gmail.com
Fri Feb 1 19:30:34 PST 2013

Dear Tweeters,

Thanks to those who replied to my request for Rock Sandpiper info today.
For those interested here were the suggestions:

- ** Ocean Shores - Point Brown Jetty (north side, high tide)
- ** Westport Jetty (south side)
- Walkway out into harbor SE of jetty (E Dock St)
- Rocks at Half Moon Bay
- Ocean Shores Sewage Treatment Plant - rocks

(** Multiple suggestions.)

I tried the first one - Point Brown Jetty. I arrived at 3pm, and realized
(a) the jetty was quite big, (b) it was a high tide with waves lapping over
it, (c) the jetty is basically a collection of large and small rocks piled
against and on top of each other, and (d) the sun was going to set right
behind it, making observation tough. I tried walking out on the jetty -
with my scope - and thought it was too dangerous, so retreated to the
beach. Thankfully, another birder arrived and convinced me that it was
actually possible to walk the jetty - by which time some young kids were
making rapid progress along it!

We walked out about 1/3 of the way, where we scoped the right (north) side.
Against the light we could see shorebirds as they occasionally flew around
the higher parts of the rocks. We could only make out Black Turnstones. At
this point, my guide left, and I was on my own. Helpfully, the 3 kids were
moving up the jetty, and finally displaced a large (and previously) hidden
flock of about 30 shorebirds. I could make out Black Turnstone and Surfbird
against the very poor light conditions. I spent about 30 mins looking at
silhouettes, and feeling convinced that there were no ROSAs to be had. At
this point, the kids were moving back along the jetty, which moved the
birds closer to me (and at a better angle against the sun.) As I was
scanning through the Surfbirds, I realized there were some smaller
Surfbirds - mini Surfbirds. When I could make out their bills, I realized
they were ROSAs. Very happy, and very surprised that there'd be so much
similarity between these two species. I'm familiar with Purple Sandpipers
on the East Coast - where it's a lot easier, as any shorebird on rocks in
the known locations are PUSAs. Here, it was much harder, and the
illustrations I'd seen hadn't prepared me for possible confusion with

Thanks to everyone who made suggestions for ROSA location. If you're on the
Westport pelagic tomorrow, I can thank you in person. And if I have time,
I'll try the Westport jetty after the boat, and see if they're any easier
over this side. Also, thanks to the kind birder - whose name I've forgotten
- who walked out along the jetty with me. I wouldn't have risked it without
his suggestion!
- Neil

Neil Hayward
Cambridge, MA
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