Seen at the RSPB reserve at Marazion Marsh, Penzance, Cornwall in the last 24 hours.
Taxonomic name. Calidris melanotos.
This is not a British bird, they’re scarce passage migrants from America and Siberia, a young Pectoral sandpiper is a “blowover” from the east coast of the USA in all likelihood. Probably part of a flock migrating towards Mexico and south America; they were caught in a storm or high winds during a session of low pressure and were blown out to sea. Some would have managed to regain the coast, some died and this lucky character managed to get across the Atlantic to Cornwall; possibly on the rigging or decks of a ship.
More have been sighted further up country, maybe the same flock maybe not. as they are not ringed or tagged its impossible to know.
A few can be seen in spring, but the vast majority appear in late summer and autumn. It breeds on the Arctic coasts from Alaska east to Hudson Bay. It migrates along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and through the interior, it winters in southern South America.
It is the most common North American wading bird to occur here and has even started to breed in Scotland recently.
The pectoral sandpiper is a bit larger than a Dunlin, it is chunkier in appearance, its length is about 23cm (9in) and a wingspan approx. 46cm (18 in).
It has a brown, streaky breast with a white belly and slightly down-curved, black bill. It has yellow-brown legs. When flying the wings appear dark and there are no stripes as with similar type birds.
The bird gets its name from the brownish band around its chest area.
Known in America by the alternative name of Grass Snipe or Krieker.
Habitat. Lives on migration on mudflats and flooded fields, so Marazion marsh is ideal for it.
Diet. Small invertebrates that live in shoreline mud.
2014 National Audubon Society, Inc.
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