To the average person, the visitor was nothing more than a shorebird whose length was shorter than a standard ruler. But to birders, it was the opportunity of a lifetime: This is just the seventh time in the history of the Lower 48 states that the wood sandpiper has been confirmed, according to Rachel Farrell, the state’s unofficial record keeper of birds. It’s also the first time it’s been spotted in New England. Farrell was the person who got the news out that the sandpiper was spotted. For 11 years she has run a private daily listserv that allows her to email hundreds of birders with updates on where and when rare birds can be located….
From Saturday to Monday, residents may have noticed an unusual amount of vehicles parked on both sides of North Road near the wastewater treatment plant. License plates that read New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine graced the cars and trucks. That’s because the sandpiper is what avid birders call a mega, a term given to fowls that are nearly impossible to spot in a certain area. A wood sandpiper in the Lower 48 is exactly that….
The bird was first seen on Saturday morning by Carlos Pedro, an out-of-state birder who was in Jamestown to see a tricolored heron. Pedro had previously seen the wood sandpiper in England, which typically breeds across Europe and Asia in wetlands just south of the Arctic. The bird migrates to Africa and southern Asia. Sometimes birds can get lost and find themselves in Hawaii in the North Pacific Ocean, or crossing the Bering Strait onto the Alaskan islands. But anywhere else in the United States is nearly unheard of.
According to the 2006 Shorebird Guide, the sandpiper is about 8 inches long and weighs 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 ounces. It is longer legged and shorter billed than other types of sandpipers, and it’s active, with continued bobbing while it walks. It wades in marshes and muddy shorelines, and it often chases insects.