The story of the Spotted Sandpiper

Sorry for the unbelievably crappy picture (above), but this is the fourth ever and only the second twitchable Spotted Sandpiper (Amerikaanse Oeverloper) for the Netherlands!


How did I end up bagging this mega-rarity around 9 AM this morning near Medemblik, Noord-Holland?

Well the story of its discovery perfectly fits the new trend in birding, where the internet and social media often plays an important role in finding and identifying rare birds…


Yesterday morning fanatic Dutch birder and twitcher Rob Half came across a photo of a wintering  CommonSandpiper (Oeverloper) on the popular site The bird was photographed by Pieter Franeker near Medemblik on Monday afternoon. A wintering Common Spp is already quite a rare sight in the Netherlands and Spotted Spp tends to turn up in winter sometimes in northwestern Europe, so Rob made a very smart move to study these pictures carefully!


Spotted Spp in winter plumage and Common Spp are very similar and one has to know well what to look for in order to make a correct identification. Spotted Spp has a relatively shorter tail, a shorter paler bill, light yellowish legs and plain tertials. The key feature however is a pale wingbar that doesn’t reach the tip of the primaries and the base of the wing.

The misty photographs didn’t show the bird in flight so credit goes to Rob for ringing the alarm bell!


Late yesterday afternoon – too late for most birders – Charles and Maurits Martens brilliantly re-found the bird and documented it with some fantastic photographs! Thanks for that!


spotted spp Maurits Martens

Spotted Sandpiper, note the pale yellowish legs, the shortish pale-based bill, the short tail and plain tertials,

by one of its rediscovers Maurits Martens (Copyright M. Martens) 


So this morning yours truly could connect with his 410th species for the Netherlands (depending on some records still under review by the Dutch rarity committee that is…)!


Pieter, Rob, Charles and Maurits; thanks for your communal effort in finding and identifying this cracking bird!


Happy Birding

Arjan Dwarshuis
Arjan Dwarshuis