Bob Trapani, of Rockland, was out with his camera on Sept. 23 on the Rockland Breakwater and encountered a flock of tired birds resting in order in the granite rocks.

The small birds are not a common sight, and he documented their respite.

Later, the birds were identified as “Semipalmated Sandpipers, which are migrating en mass right now,” said Camden bird expert and columnist Kristen Lindquist.

Trapani had also learned from a friend in Canada whose father is a long-time bird watcher that the birds wereA big group of immature Semipalmated Sandpipers (migrants from the Arctic), no doubt resting on the rocks at high water. At low water, they would be feeding on some mudflat.”


According to the Cornell Lab of Orthinology, the Semipalmated Sandpipers from eastern populations probably undertake nonstop transoceanic flights of  1,900 to 2,500 miles from New England and southern Canada to South America, powered by extensive fat reserves.

The Semipalmated Sandpiper gets its common name from the short webs between its toes. “Palmated” means webbed. The Western Sandpiper is the only other small sandpiper with similarly webbed toes.