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Semipalmated sandpiper        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Semipalmated sandpipers are extremely abundant in summer on the north slope tundra of Alaska.  These normally quiet little shorebirds noisily display, with butterfly-like hovering flights accompanied by loud trilling calls.   The newly-hatched chicks were only an hour or so old; they will shortly leave the nest permanently to follow their parents and feed on the rich insect life of the tundra.  The winter plumage is quite gray compared to the breeding plumage.   The photos were taken near Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), on Alaska's north coast, and for the winter-plumaged birds, the Salton Sea and Carmel, California.

  • Canon 1D4, 7D2, or R7; 800 mm IS lens plus 1.4X converter, fill-in flash (2011, 2017, 2022)
  • chicks: Nikon F2, 90 mm macro lens with 2X converter, Kodachrome 64 (1978)