Readers’ wildlife photos

August 10, 2014 • 3:46 am

John Chardine sent some lovely pictures of Semipalmated Sandpipers, and even some scientific references! Here are his notes:

One of the most spectacular yet little known wildlife spectacles in North America is the massing of 100,000s of the NA endemic Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) on the shores of the upper Bay of Fundy in the fall. This occurs about 10km from my house. They come here to feed on Corophium volutator, an amphipod, which lives in the Bay of Fundy mud. The birds breed in the high Arctic and are on their way south to overwinter in Surinam, French Guiana and Brazil. The birds arrive weighing about 20 grams and double their mass in about 2-3 weeks feeding on the Corophium. This is the gas in their tank, which they use for a non-stop flight to northeast South America, taking them just 4 days to complete.
I find all of this amazing, including the short four-day flight from Canada to South America! Imagine the evolution behind that long-distance migration (as in all birds that make trips like that.)
First, here’s the Bay of Fundy so you can see where they foregather:
You can see John’s other photos at his website.
This is what an individual looks like- quite a bit smaller than an American Robin:
A resource like this attracts avian predators such as the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus):
A few refs:
Hicklin, P.W. 1987. The migration of shorebirds in the Bay of Fundy. Wilson Bulletin 99: 540-570.
Webber, J.-M. 2009. The physiology of long-distance migration: extending the limits of endurance metabolism. J. Exp. Biol. 212: 593-597.
Gratto-Trevor, C., R.I. Morrison, D. Mizrahi, D. B. Lank, P. Hicklin, and A.L. Spaans. 2012. Migratory connectivity of Semipalmated Sandpipers: winter distribution and migration routes of breeding populations.. Waterbirds 35: 83-95.
MacDonald, E.C., M.G. Ginn, and D.J. Hamilton. 2012. Variability in foraging behavior and implications for diet breadth among Semipalmated Sandpipers staging in the upper Bay of Fundy. Condor 114: 135-144.

13 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Like several sandpiper species in North America, Semipalmateds are declining. We discovered through morphometrics that it has been the eastern Arctic population that seems to account for a lot of the decline.

    Hicklin, P.W. and J.W. Chardine. 2012. The morphometrics of migrant Semipalmated Sandpipers in the Bay of Fundy: evidence for declines in the eastern breeding population. Waterbirds 35:74-82.

    1. That’s interesting; any idea why it’s the eastern populations that are particularly affected? Geography, human impact, something else?

      Beautiful pictures by the way. I love the photos on your site of the kittiwakes too.

  2. Gorgeous photos! I love the Bay of Fundy. I stayed there a few years ago and got my fill of fresh seafood & dulse (which I got in bulk at the market in NB. Damn, now I want dulse).

  3. I visited John Chardine’s site.
    Spectacular collection, with more breath-taking pictures, notably of birds. Some that I am adding to my private collection of masterpieces.
    Some note on the equipment used would be welcome (lenses, body, tripod, etc…).

    1. Thanks! I don’t publicize my equipment on my web site for security reasons (I was burgled once!). I shoot Canon equipment. Most of my bird images are made with the Canon EOS 1D mark IV and Canon’s new 500mm F4L lens on its own and with the Canon 1.4 x and 2x teleconverters. For the tripod I use a Gitzo 3531 legs and a Jobu Jr. 3 Deluxe gimbal head, but also hand-hold.

  4. Great, great stuff, and what an aggregation of semis! And here I thought we were seeing a lot in MI. 😉

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