This Wood Sandpiper was courteous enough to stick around for a week after its discovery and induce a 'family twitch', Saturday being the first day that we could all go together. It was a life bird for Matan, an ABA bird for Susannah and my first in the Lower 48, but rather more attractive was the mystique of seeing a Eurasian shorebird on the East Coast of the United States. In North America, Wood Sandpiper is regular only in extreme Western Alaska so to have one show up within comfortable driving distance of our home in Western Massachusetts was a welcome surprise. Moreover, it echoed other mid-October New England mega rarities which we chased as a family, namely the European Golden Plover in Maine, October 2008 and, remarkably, the Brown-chested Martin in Massachusetts in October 2009. As if to emphasize the potential for extreme vagrants in New England at this time of year, Jeremiah Trimble found a Gray-tailed Tattler on Nantucket just two days earlier, scoring a remarkable first for Massachusetts and the East Coast of North America. Had I not seen a smart Gray-tailed Tattler in Barrow, Alaska earlier this year I would have been very keen to join upwards of 60 birders on Nantucket who saw the tattler on the same day that we chased the Wood Sandpiper in Rhode Island. The autumn is still young - who knows what other great birds will be discovered in New England before the end of November?!
Matan checks his images.........
with another lifer in the bag, Matan is keen to 'tick-and-run' while Susannah (top left) needs to study some more.
The loneliness of the long distance migrant - surprising to see the Wood Sandpiper feeding entirely on its own with no other shorebirds in sight. Aside from nine fly-over Killdeers we didn't see any other shorebirds during our one hour stay.
The favored feeding area of the Wood Sandpiper in the NW corner of Marsh Meadows. I think we were lucky in finding it straight away with other reports suggesting that the bird can roam throughout the marshes, disappearing for extended periods at times.