Stilt Sandpiper - Steltstrandloper

Stilt Sandpiper


Micropalama himantopus

Pictures: Teus Luijendijk


23 July 2000, Belkmerweg, Callantsoog NH

16 May 2004, Ezumakeech Fr


23 July 2000, Belkmerweg, Callantsoog NH

The area called 'De Putten' is a little marshland, just behind the dike protecting the land from the North Sea in the north of the province of North-Holland. A number of rarities have been found here over the years, e.g., Terek Sandpipers, Pacific Golden Plovers, Great Knot, Roseate Tern, Cream-coloured Courser, to name just a few. Even rare passerines like Pied Wheatear, Pallas's Warbler and Spanish Sparrow have turned up here.
It was therefore not without expectations that Y2K-lister Jan Wierda searched these ponds for waders some afternoon in July 2000. To his enormous surprise, there actually was some odd wader present, which indeed looked very much like a Stilt Sandpiper, a would-be-second for the Dutch list. Before he knew, however, it had taken off, not to return to the same spot. Searches for the bird later that day were fruitless.
The next day, more birders joined in for a search (including Jan, former birdline coordinator Remco Hofland and I) and the area was meticulously scanned for waders. As there were at that time a number of inundated flower bulb fields in the vicinity, this meant quite a lot of driving around to cover all possible locations were the bird could have gone to. Late in the afternoon, when most had already given up hope of ever retrieving the bird, it was relocated near the village 't Zand. Being still in the vicinity, we rushed to this field, just to find that all birds had just been scared off by a passing helicopter. An agonizing 45 minutes later, however, another report came in, again of the Stilt Sand. Now, the bird apparently had found a suitable (large) flower bulb field where it could forage among Ruffs and Dunlins. Under deteriorating light conditions, I managed to take some video shots, from which these stills were taken:

  Stilt Sandpiper  -  Steltstrandloper  Micropalama himantopus , adult,  videograbs (320x), contrast-enhanced.
  Belkmerweg, near Callantsoog NH, The Netherlands, 23 July 2000.


16 May 2004, Ezumakeech Fr

And the third Stilt Sandpiper was found in the north, in the waders' paradise called Ezumakeech. It was not (yet) in summer plumage, suggesting either a second calender year bird, or arrested moult.

     Stilt Sandpiper  -  Steltstrandloper  Micropalama himantopus ,  videograbs (320x).
     Ezumakeech, Lauwersmeer Fr, The Netherlands, 16 May 2004.


Copyright ©Teus Luijendijk 2000 - 2004