Purple Sandpiper

Irish Name: Gobadán cosbhuí
Scientific name: Calidris maritima
Bird Family: Sandpipers
Conservation status


Winter visitor from NE Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia & Siberia - most occur between September & April.


Shares the same kind of habitat as Turnstone - rocky shorelines, headlands, islands and harbours - sometimes on sandy shores where rotting seaweed is piled up. Roughly same size and shape as Dunlin. Its non-descript, dull, slate grey plumage with dark streaks make it surprisingly difficult to see against seaweed covered rocks. Legs are yellowish orange, bill is fine and slightly downcurved, yellowish at the base with a dark tip. In flight, wings and upperparts a uniform dark grey, with just a thin white wingbar. Feeds mouselike right where waves break on seaweed-covered rocks and is easily missed - often first making itself visible by a quick flutter to avoid a crashing wave. Not common - usually in small flocks of about ten birds and often associates with Turnstones.


A distinct but quiet "chit, chit".


Feed in areas overgrown by seaweed - gastropods and other molluscs mostly. Locate prey by sight, and also feed on the larvae, pupae and adults of kelp flies.


Breeds in tundra habitat, mountains and rocky shores in Iceland and Scandinavia.


Occurs at many rocky shore sites and harbours all around the coast.

Similar Species


Irish Name:
Piardálaí trá
Scientific name:
Arenaria interpres
Bird Family: