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Common Sandpiper on Breamish

Common Sandpiper on the River Breamish

This wading bird is typically seen along fast flowing rivers and near to lakes during the summer breeding season. So it’s perhaps not surprising that we might see them here in the Breamish Valley along the River Breamish.

On 15 June 2015, I spotted a Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) on the rocks on the north side of the River Breamish at Bulby’s Wood (GPS: 55°26’30” N 1°59’21” W).

Sandpiper on rocks in Breamish Valley

Common Sandpiper at Bulby’s Wood

The following day, 16 June 2015, I saw another sitting on a dead branch overlooking the bend in the River Breamish further downstream, near to Reaveley (GPS: 55°26’42” N 1°57’6″ W).

Sandpiper on tree stump on River Breamish

Common Sandpiper on tree stump overlooking River Breamish

And…again the next day (17 June 2015), I spotted what I assumed to be the same bird perched on a lower branch at nearly exactly the same spot near Reaveley (GPS: 55°26’42” N 1°57’7″ W):

Sandpiper on branch in Breamish Valley

Common Sandpiper near Reaveley

The Common Sandpiper is a relatively small wading bird. The adults are about 18-20 cm long (by comparison a Common Blackbird is about 23-29 cm long) and its wingspan is about 32-35 cm.

As can be seen from the images above, the adult summer plumage is grey-brown upper parts with white underparts. The bill has a pale base and dark tip. The colour reproduction of the images isn’t quite good enough to show the true colour of the legs and feet, which are generally described as being dark yellow. They eat small crustaceans and other invertebrates, such as worms.

Common Sandpipers are also readily identified by their habit of ‘teetering’, i.e. habitually bobbing up and down when standing or walking. They are also said to have a three-note call. However, I can’t honestly say that I heard the distinctive ‘swee-wee-wee’ call from either of the birds I saw. I’m assuming that these were two different birds: only because Common Sandpipers tend to feed alone and because of the distance between Bulby’s Wood and Reaveley.

Of course, I could be wrong about this. If you know differently, please let me know.

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