Once a fisherman at Six Men’s Bay St. Peter asked me where these birds, referring to the over one hundred Sanderlings that were on the beach, arrived from. I was not too sure but not wanting to mislead him, I told him North America. Later, I was able to narrow that down to the state and even to a particular beach, thanks to Bandedbirds.org and a pair of banded birds that were recorded locally. It all began when I reported my first banded Sanderling, Y2L, last year on December 24. After registering the re-sighting, the website gave the option to “map your re-sighting”. After entering the requested information, I was able to see the traveling information for this bird. On November 19th, I registered another tagged bird sighted at Six Men’s, the Sanderling tagged 19Y. Let us look at the history of these two birds.
Sanderling Y2L, according to Bandedbirds.org, was captured and tagged on Kimbles Beach, New Jersey, United States on May 13th, 2012 at 1:30PM. Two weeks later it was re-sighted at Villas Beaches, New Jersey, United States. Six months after, the bird was sighted twice, on the 10th and 24th November, here in Barbados at Six Men’s Bay. This was the last recorded sighting for 2012.
There was only one recorded re-sighting in 2013, one year after the previous recorded sighting. I saw and reported this bird on November 24th, 2013 at Six Men’s Bay.
There were more sightings in 2014. Sanderling tagged Y2L was spotted twice, 7th and 9th May, at Reeds Beach and twice, 20th and 22nd August, at Moores Beach, New Jersey, United States.
The last reported re-sighting was on the November 16th, 2014 at Six Men’s Bay.
Sanderling tagged 19Y is a newly tagged bird. It was captured and tagged on May 24th, 2014 at Villas Beaches in New Jersey. It was then re-sighted here in Barbados at Six Men’s on November 2nd and 19th.
We always knew that a large flock of Sanderlings spent their North American winters at Six Men’s Bay, but we were unsure as to whether or not it was the same flock returning year after year.
Why Birds Tagged
Thanks to these tagged birds we now know that it is the same flock. And that is basically the reason birds are tagged; to provide answers to researcher’s questions. Here is how bandedbirds.org put it “The combination of banding and re-sighting data allows greater understanding of the habitat uses and needs by imperiled species. With this understanding comes the hope of achieving the protective actions required to halt, and even reverse, the population decline exhibited by many shorebird species.”
I was at Six Men’s Bay this month and again, another fisherman asked me where the birds (Sanderlings) came from. I told him that in August, members of this flock were identified in New Jersey, United States. His eyes lit up, no doubt in awe, probably appreciating for the first time the significant distance that these tiny white birds that chase the water break, picking at the sand, travel. I am sorry that I did not also mention that these Sanderlings make one of the longest migrations in the bird species. Maybe next time!
PS. Sanderlings seen in our Region breed mainly in the Canadian Arctic and spend the North American winters in the West Indies, South and Central America traveling some 1,900 t0 6,200 miles..
Click to see a video by Dr. John Webster on probably the most famous tagged birds- Red Knot B95 aka Moon Bird