Help save Spoon-billed Sandpipers one tattoo at a time

Since I was a child I have been in love with shorebirds. Listening to them calling at night as they flew over Hilbre Island on their way  to and from the Arctic is something that evokes an incredible emotional reaction inside me. It feels like home. Shorebird populations have declined dramatically since those days and now that I am a father I want my daughter and other children around the world to be able to enjoy these incredible birds and hear their beautiful calls.

One of the world’s most incredible shorebirds is in danger of going extinct. In my opinion the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is the world’s most amazing shorebird. An absolute marvel of evolution. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to see one.

The money I raise through this gofundme project will be donated to the Save the Spoon-billed Sandpiper  project. The first $10,000 raised will go to support the SPOS project; any additional funds raised will go towards travel expenses for me and my wife to visit Myanmar and see Spoon-billed Sandpipers this coming winter. Any additional $$$ gained from the promotion and results of the trip (articles, photographs, sponsorship etc.) to Myanmar will also be donated to the SPOS project.

Saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Project

I will be celebrating $$$ milestones by having 6 species of my favorite shorebirds (see below) tattooed on my body (at my own expense), one tattoo for every $2,500 donated to this gofundme project. So, if you wanna see me get inked up, start donating.

Northern Lapwing, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Dunlin, Red Knot and Spoon-billed Sandpiper IF I get to go see them in Myanmar.

I you are a tattoo artist and are willing to donate your time to tattoo these birds on my body please contact


Pictures from the forest

Here are a few more pictures from my recent visits to Apalachicola National Forest.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Southern Black Racer

Southern Black Racer

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

American Lady

American Lady

Mississippi Kite

Mississippi Kite

Breeding Birds in the Forest

I’ve been birding in the eastern part of Apalachicola National Forest quite a bit recently collecting data for the Breeding Bird Atlas. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve seen a lot of cool stuff. Today was no exception. The birds were very cooperative and I managed to make some short videos using my phoneskope adapter, iPhone 6 and KOWA spotting scope.

Apalachicola National Forest: Mothers Day

So, Julie wanted to go to St. Marks NWR for Mothers Day and go explore the mudflats down by the lighthouse BUT the timing of the tides were all inconvenient so she asked, “I want to go see a Prothonotary Warbler!” “How about the forest?” I replied.

So, late morning we headed over to the forest to one of my favorite spots to see the Golden Swamp Warbler aka Prothonotary Warbler. Those of you who know me know how much I hate the modern name for this gorgeous creature. Golden Swamp Warbler sounds cool, mysterious, beautiful….Prothonotary sounds like something an engine would have. Yes, I do know that Prothonotary is derived from prothonotaria…I don’t really give a flying turd! GOLDEN SWAMP WARBLER….do it!!!!



When one is in the forest, one has opportunity to see many other cool things with wings.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Swainson's Warbler

Swainson’s Warbler

As always the forest never disappoints. Stay tuned for more fun in the forest…I’ll be out there a bunch this summer.

WCBO: May 3rd 2015

Finally had a day of chillaxin at the obsstead after a really busy trifecta of weekends. Fun but tiring, so it was nice to spend the morning banding yard birds. It was quite a productive morning. The first bird I caught was a handsome Great Crested Flycatcher. Waaaay cool!

The local Blue Jays have been visiting our suet feeders and a couple got caught. They’re actually big softies in the hand. I just love their plumage. Maisie was chuffed because I caught 2 chickadees but bird of the day was this male Eastern Towhee. I originally banded him on January 12th 2012!

Migration is almost over so I won’t be opening the nets much over the summer. Soon be fall!!! Our yard is chock full of fall fruiting shrubs and trees so we get good numbers of vireos, thrushes and catbirds migrating through the neighborhood. Warblers often come to our two bird baths and we’ve had one or two unexpected visitors over the years. Can hardly wait!

Semipalmated Sandpiper – Incredible feat of migration

On Monday night Rob texted me the following message, “Found a banded shorebird at Tram today! Flag on one leg and bands on the other.”

It was a Semipalmated Sandpiper wearing a white flag with the code “CHK” engraved on it. Canadian banders use white flags for shorebirds…very exciting. Rob emailed Dr. David Mizrahi who is one of the world’s leading experts on this species and was told the bird had probably been banded in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick. How cool is that?

Fast forward to Tuesday (yesterday)…I headed over to Tram Rd Holding Ponds hoping to see the bird. It only took me 5 minutes to find it. It was feeding with a flock of Least Sandpipers. I took a whole bunch of pictures and video.

Semipalmated Sandpiper from Andy Wraithmell aka Limeybirder on Vimeo.


Here is a map and details of CHK SESA


Semipalmated Sandpipers breed in the Arctic and winter in South America, Dr. Mizrahi has been fitting them with geolocators to find out more about their migration routes and critical stopover sites. Through his research we can inform decision makers in multiple countries how important it is to conserve the habitats these species need to survive.

To illustrate how incredible these little birds are check out the amazing journey this one took to and from its wintering grounds in Brazil.


Semipalmated Sandpipers weigh a little under an ounce (25 grammes). This one bird flew for 6 days non-stop from Canada to Venezuela!!!!! It did this without GPS and without a jet engine. INCREDIBLE!

PLEASE consider supporting this important research.



I had a brilliant time on Saturday, birding with Orange Audubon at St. Marks NWR. It was a large group, 27 or so, but that didn’t prevent us all from seeing a lot of birds…76 species all told. The shorebirds on Tower Pool were the highlight of the morning, we had 19 species! The highlight was the Hudsonian Godwit, found by Jeff O’Connell the day before. It kept its distance and for some weird reason its wing was drooped, occasionally dragging in the mud/water BUT we saw it fly quite comfortably on two occasions so if it is injured it’s nothing too major.

Other shorebird highlights included 2 Wilson’s Phalaropes, 7 Whimbrel, a White-rumped Sandpiper and a Red Knot. A Gull-billed Tern came and went and we had terrific looks at Seaside Sparrow and a singing Orchard Oriole.

Elsewhere on the refuge we enjoyed Purple Gallinules, Least Bittern, Bald Eagles, and a Prothonotary Warbler.

Here is my full checklist for the trip

eBird Checklist SMNWR May 2 2015

Black and white with a dash of Rose

Before picking up Maisie at school last Friday I took a leisurely stroll around Jackson View Park in Tallahassee. It’s a nice park with a well-maintained trail and because of its location, on the south shore of Lake Jackson, produces a decent variety of birds.

Most of the action was at the North end of the park in and around a very large mulberry tree. There were a few Cedar Waxwings, a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak and a few Northern Cardinals happily munching on the ripe fruit, which was plentiful. A Black-and-white Warbler fed nearby.




WCBO: April 30 2015

It was a beautiful day in Tallahassee, which after all the rain we’ve been getting, made for good birding and some Vitamin D intake! Allow me to digress for a sentence or two. Dear Historians, you may not know this but there’s only one reason why Britain conquered much of the world. The weather! Couldn’t bloody wait to set sail and head for warmer climes. Eddie Izzard once joked that Britain used flags to claim its empire, in spite of the fact that indigenous folk already laid claim to previously unflagged territory. “I claim this land in the name of Queen Elizabeth!” said many a salty skipper while raising the Union Jack. “But you can’t claim this land, it’s ours!” exclaimed many a half naked chief. “Do you have a flag?” This question, more of a statement of fact really, was usually followed by rape & pillage. Eddie’s joke wasn’t far from the truth. However, I imagine that just before the flag was raised the skipper said, “glorious bloody weather, what! Beats Manchester in March by jove! I think we’ll take it!” 

The birding is better too…

Anyways, today was a good un

Migrants, like this Swainson’s Thrush have been feasting on our mulberries. 

First fledged Cardinal of the spring.

I had 4 species of raptor soaring overhead today, including this Red-tailed Hawk.

1 Black Vulture
1 Turkey Vulture
1 Mississippi Kite
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
1 Broad-winged Hawk
2 Red-tailed Hawk
13 Laughing Gull — Flying high N
1 Mourning Dove
1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo
2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Downy Woodpecker

2 Great Crested Flycatcher
1 White-eyed Vireo
1 Red-eyed Vireo
3 Blue Jay
2 Fish Crow
1 Purple Martin
3 Carolina Chickadee
1 Tufted Titmouse
2 White-breasted Nuthatch
2 Carolina Wren
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Swainson’s Thrush
1 Gray Catbird
2 Northern Mockingbird
1 Brown Thrasher
2 Northern Parula
1 Hooded Warbler
2 Eastern Towhee
7 Northern Cardinal
1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
1 House Finch
2 Pine Siskin — Still here!

In between net rounds this Carolina Anole was busy showing off.