Sanderlings have occurred in good numbers along the shore at Crymlyn Burrows, during the second half of this year. They move widely all around Swansea Bay and can be found in decent numbers almost anywhere from Kenfig Sands right through to Blackpill. Roosting birds often choose the beach at Crymlyn Burrows to spend time around high tide and it offers a good opportunity to record numbers. It's still unclear to me whether the roosts here are made up by the entire Sanderling population of the bay, but the high numbers seem to suggest that it might be the case. My peak count (for 2013) was taken at this location on 31/8/13 when 412 Sanderlings were on the beach.
It has become apparent, in recent years that a few of them are ringed. The colourful combinations of ring and flag positions can be surprisingly difficult to record on roosting birds, that often prefer to stand on one leg. Even when they're forced to move to higher ground by the incoming tide they can be remarkably stubborn about keeping one leg tucked away; if it wasn't so annoying I'd be even more impressed by how quickly they can hop. If you can get them having a quick feed or preen before they disperse on the falling tide then that often allows the best chance to record the full combination.
Since the summer I've been able to record 4 individuals
G3WBGW - first caught in Iceland in May 2013 and seen here on 1/8/13
B1YWYB - first caught in Greenland in July 2013 and seen here on 9/8/13
G5WWGY - first caught in Greenland in June 2008 and seen there every summer since up to and including the one just gone. This is the first recorded sighting away from her breeding grounds - seen here on 19/9/13
Jeroen adds -'G5WWGY is an adult female ringed in 2008 and of which I used to find the nest each succesive year. In 2010 she was incubating very close to the field station in Greenland so we could see her incubating each time we went out for field work in the morning and when we returned in the evening (which explains the many sightings, usually two per day) in in 2010. She was also paired with the same male each year, which is unusual for sanderlings. He is a bit of a macho though and we have now genetically shown that although they used to incubate a clutch together in many cases (except for 2010 when she was incubating a clutch by herself) he wasn't very faithful to her; he has produced several extra-pair young, sometimes complete clutches.'
G2WGYY - first caught in Iceland in May 2011 and was seen there again the following year. It was seen here on 19/9/13. This bird was seen earlier this year 26/5/13 by Pete Woodruff at Rossall Point, Fleetwood, but not recorded between Pete's sighting and mine. Pete runs a blog and describes his exciting find on the link Click here - The Rossall Sanderling It's a good blog all round and well worth a visit in any case.
Please note the directional paths in the figure above are only indicative of movement. Indeed the bird that both Pete and I saw may not have gone back to Iceland at all? Of course further movement of Sanderling will take them beyond Iceland, to the north, and from Crymlyn Burrows, likely onwards further south. However any further arrows on the map above and there'll be a real danger of it turning into a psychedelic Intro to Dad's Army.
Many thanks to Jeroen Reneerkens for the information. Please support this project by reporting your own sightings.