Purple Sandpiper
Upper Texas Coast
March 8th, 2003
UPDATE:   May 3rd, 03 - sighted again on the Quintana Jetty. See below for new photos.

A Purple Sandpiper has been wintering on the jetties adjacent to Quintana and Surfside Beaches, near Freeport, Texas. It has been mentioned on the Texas RBA alert for several weeks, so we went to see if we could add it to our US list, and were very fortunate to find it, on Saturday, March 8th, 2003. It was feeding with a group of Ruddy Turnstones on the Surfside Jetty.

Here are 4 photos, taken with an Olympus C700UZ digital camera, which has a 10x optical zoom..
Purple Sandpiper (left) showing size comparison with the Ruddy Turnstone
New photos taken on May 3rd, 2003 - below
From May 1st-4th, 2003 we  birded the Quintana/Brazoria area for Spring migrants. We had heard that the Purple Sandpiper was still around and had been seen on April 29th on the Quintana Jetty, and that also on the same morning another was seen on the North Jetty at Port Bolivar (17th St.). We did not locate the Quintana bird on the Quintana Jetty on the morning of May 2nd, however, on taking an evening walk on  Saturday, May 3rd, 2003, we did find it.

These 2 photos were taken near the end of the Quintana Jetty. The sun was setting and the light was fading, so they are not very sharp images. Immediately after the first  photo (left) was taken, the bird flew across to the Surfside Jetty. This was at 7:35:17 pm, according to the exif data saved by the camera. We both saw it fly off and my husband followed it through his binoculars all the way. While he was watching I was checking out another group of birds on some adjacent rocks and much to my surprise, I spotted a Purple Sandpiper, so we took this second photo (lower left). The camera recorded the time as 7:35:55 pm. We thought at first that this must be a second sandpiper, but on studying the plumage, and corresponding with a local birder, it is noted that one of the secondaries is uniquely light-edged with a dark center on both photos, so it has to be the same bird. This sighting on May 3rd, 2003, was apparently the last recorded sighting for the season.
© Helen & John Baines 2003

This page was last updated on: July 18, 2007