There is still a lot to learn about Sanderling migration and the International Wader Study Group, among others, are trying to answer some of these questions by colour ringing birds and tracking their movements.
The group have now colour-ringed more than 3,000 Sanderlings in Ghana, Mauritania, Portugal, Netherlands, Poland, Iceland and Greenland, plus a few individuals in Svalbard and Sweden. Many of them can be observed in July-September in the UK on their way south. For many birds the group has long tracking histories of individual birds, some of which have been reported as far south as Namibia.
Luckily only one Sanderling in the photo above is colour ringed and can be identified in the tangle of legs as (D35548). This bird was ringed at Brito Salina, Alcochete beach, Portugal on 16th March 2010 and then was also seen there on the 30th March. This bird was then resighted at Dawlish Warren, Devon on 29th July 2010 where the above photo was taken. This bird must be returning to its wintering area in Portugal after a short breeding season in northeast Greenland or even Ellesmere Island, Canada.
View Sanderling from Portugal in a larger map
For more information about the project click here
Sightings can be send directly to the group for their specific project or via www.ring.ac
Thanks to Owen Selly for letting us know and also for the great photo.