A Mind-Blowing Start To Our Birdwatching Trips Tour For Two Guests In Yorkshire 25 September 2023

Sharp tailed Sandpiper Taiwan 1

Not our bird but a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, there are numerous photos on social media of "the" bird.

We had arranged to meet Andrew and Roger at RSPB Blacktoft Sands at the start of their Yorkshire Tour for Two Guests. We always enjoy visiting this great reserve where there is a warm welcome and plenty of birds. We checked in at the reception hide after watching a male Marsh Harrier over the car park, and had a chat with Ian who was on duty. The majority of the waders were being seen from the Singleton Hide so we set off there first. When we reached the hide it was pretty much full but we found a little space and enjoyed the sight of lots of waders. As Ian had reported, there was a great selection of birds and we quickly picked out Curlew Sandpipers, Spotted Redshanks and Common Greenshanks. As Alan scanned through a group of Ruff a smaller wader was feeding amongst them. The scope stopped scanning, the heart rate increased, had it really got a red cap? Just at that moment the whole flock flew! No!

A frantic scan of the now-landed waders but no sign of the bird, had Alan imagined it? Doubts were certainly creeping in -a weird small Ruff, or a trick of the light? Wait. There was the bird again feeding away from the main flock on an area of slightly drier mud. Now more adrenalin overload, it surely had a red cap! Panic to get Ruth, Andrew and Roger on the bird, still not saying out loud what was going through Alan's mind. Ruth grabbed some digiscope images and Alan looked at them carefully, oh wow, a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper!! A mega rare bird from Siberia and we had just found it.

Alan announced the discovery to the packed hide and was met with stunned silence though lots of scopes swung to follow the directions. Ruth got some slightly better pictures through the scope and we showed the folks closest to us what we were talking about. Alan was now on the phone to the reserve and told Ian of the amazing discovery and then onto Rare Bird Alert so others might have a chance of seeing the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. What a fantastic start to our tour and what a thill to find such a rare bird!

One of Ruth's digiscoped images of 'the' Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

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