Doing some birding along the lakefront in Milwaukee this morning I came across a stunning Purple Sandpiper. I have been looking hard all fall along the lake for this species and it finally happened. As it was, I was at Lakeshore State Park on the east end of the island on the big lake. I spotted a sandpiper type bird, darker in color bird fly out from the big rock shore at waters edge out over the water about 10 feet and then return to the big rocks at waters edge farther south about ~ 100 feet. This bird would never have been seen as no one ever walks along the water with the very large rocks but I just happened to catch the flight. I knew immediately it had to be the Purple Sandpiper, a rare bird as it’s normal range is the east coast of the US, but are seen just once in awhile late fall Nov-Dec. I climbed down to the rocks and after awhile spotted it feeding. It did not seem to mind me at a distance as it just continually fed as big waves just kept coming in. A few times the waves pushed this bird around, obviously this is a tough bird and is used to that. This species has been seen only a few times in the state in the last few years. The day started out with some sun and then clouds moved in with very mild temps of 50 degrees plus. Awesome bird and a fun morning. The last time and only time I saw Purple Sandpipers were December 13, 2012 at Wind Point in Racine by the lighthouse rocky shoreline and there were 2 of them. Images were taken on November 28, 2017.
Binomial name: Calidris maritima
Category: Sandpipers, Phalaropes, and Allies
Size: 9” long, 17” wing span
Weight: 2.5 oz
Notes: Breeds in the tundra and winters along rocky shores of the Atlantic Coast making this a rare bird for Wisconsin.