A BIRDS EYE VIEW OF BUTE.
Today we look at another of the migrants to grace our lochs and shores for the summer, the" Common Sandpiper".
This distinctive little wader 18-21cm (7-8ins) arrives from Africa in May, yet I saw my first one this year on the 24th April. This early arrival seems to be the norm nowadays which may be linked with the mild winters that we have been having for many years.
This bird is easily recognised by the semi crouched position and the characteristic bobbing up and down and flicking of their tails. In flight they have flickering wingbeats with an occasional short glides with their wings held in a downward position when they are about to land.
While they are flying they produce a very shrill call, so even if you don't see them at first they will let you know that they are there. Colour is olive-brown on top with white under parts, Bill-black, straight a thin. Legs- green and short. The nest is just a hollow in the ground near water in which they can lay 4 buff, speckled eggs which will hatch out in 20-23 days, and the chicks will fledge in 13-21 days with both adults sharing the duties of incubating and feeding of their brood.
Food is what we would term to be creepie-crawlies and jumping things that we see on the beach, but the book calls them invertebrates. There are many other waders that look about the same size and colour, so it will take a while for you to sort them out in your mind. I am still trying and at times I get it very wrong, but I enjoy the times that I get it right, you just have to persevere, and by the time that you are getting good at it , they migrate, and next year you have start all over again.
First Published in the Buteman 17-05-2002.