Country corner


The other day when my friend Robin and I were on one of our canoe adventures, this common sandpiper landed near us when we had pulled ashore for lunch.

Stalking closer using bankside cover, I took a few long shots then realised the bird was wading closer.

Here was one of these rare moments when a wild bird feeds within feet of the camera, oblivious to being watched.

What a bonny species this is. Easily our commonest sandpiper, it is usually found alone, unlike many wader species which flock together after breeding.

There is a grace and delicacy to this bird of the water’s edge.

During summer, you are most likely to come across common sandpipers in the hills, where they will breed by lochside and burnside.

Surrounded by scenic upland hillscapes, here it is very much an upland species.

However, after breeding, the pangs of migration grip the wee thing and it sets off south, stopping off to feed at any likely looking waterside along the way.

This may be fresh or salt water,or brackish estuary waters where fresh and salt mix. It matters not to the common sandpiper, so long as there is a good supply of water bugs and beasties to fuel its travels.

These travels may take see this scrap of a bird battle its way over seas, mountains and even the endless Sahara, to winter in far flung Senegal on Africa’s west coast. There it will wade and feed among exotic tropical species for long sun-kissed weeks.

However, slowly but surely, the call of some secluded Scottish glen will stir it to set off on its travels once more. Then, perhaps two mates in a couple of battered canoes will once more meet a lone traveller as all three try to satisfy their eternal wanderlust!

Wonder if it might be the same one?

More Country Corner in this week’s Advertiser