Skye bird guide to Common Sandpiper – vocal summer shore bird

It’s a true sound of summer – the shrill alarming call of sandpipers heard round the shores of both fresh water and sea lochs.  This Skye bird guide to Common Sandpiper gives some idea of where they can be found and what they are up to in their all too short stay in Skye.

Common Sandpiper on the seashore

Common Sandpiper on the seashore

The birds return from the South in March and begin breeding in April.  They nest in  patches of concealed vegetation never far from water and will nest around both the sea and fresh water lochs.

Sandpipers usually announce themselves with their alarm call, often made when flying away from you!  Try to locate them feeding quietly on the shore when you’ll notice their other main characteristic – they habitually bob their heads while crouching quite low to the ground.

Spotting them BEFORE they take off is not easy but guests staying at Springbank Elgol, our Skye self catering holiday cottage, have exclusive use of binoculars and a telescope which we provide as part of our environmental activities offer, and which make the task a lot easier.  We also provide maps and guides to help you locate these and other birds.  Reliable sites near to Springbank are: Kilmarie Bay; the shores of Loch Slapin near Torrin; and the Coruisk and Camasunary rivers.

Their young are very vulnerable in their pre-flight fledgling phase which lasts for about a month from June into July.  During this time the activity of parent birds in feeding and protecting their chicks is a great opportunity to see them in action.

Two Common Sandpiper chicks keeping a low profile

Two Common Sandpiper chicks keeping a low profile

The successful chicks will stay until early September when they will make their way South for the winter.  Adult birds may begin migration as soon as July or August.  Catch them while you can!