Friday 23 August 2013

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Yesterday evening word went out on the local birding grapevine that a Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis) had been sighted.

This species is classed as 'very rare' in Orkney with up to four being seen each year. Usually these birds breed in the tundra of Eastern Siberia through to Canada and generally head to South America for the winter but do turn up around the world as vagrants.

Now I don't usually 'twitch' birds, if they happen to be where I am then all well and good but I don't make a point of dashing off to see them. However, this particular bird had the good sense to land on Burray which is where I live so it would be rude not to go and see it.

Reports first thing this morning weren't looking promising as it hadn't been seen but by mid morning it had been sighted in the same spot as last night and with the fog having rolled in hopefully it would stay where it was for a bit.

So at lunchtime on my way back from the doctor's I made a small detour to the field where it had been seen and after scanning the field I spotted it in amongst some Ringed Plover and close to a couple of Oystercatchers. Always useful to have known species close by for size comparision.

This was a 'life' list bird for me and would have been a good one for my patch list but unfortunately it was on the wrong side of the island for that. Good news for my fellow birder whose patch does cover that part of the island.

Might have to go for a wander round my patch in case it has moved or there is another one lurking in the fog!!

Update - Friday afternoon

After work I went back to the field that I had seen the sandpiper in to see if it was still about and whether I could get any photos of it. The weather conspired against me on the latter objective but I did see the sandpiper again.

This time it was in amongst a large flock of Golden Plover and also with a couple of Ruff.

Golden Plovers and a Ruff

With the fog rolling in and out it was making observation a bit tricky and a couple of times the flock were spooked by something disappearing into the fog before reappearing on a slightly different part of the field. On the third occassion the flock disappeared off to the West and didn't return.