Twitchers flock to `bird sighting of the year'
Wednesday 15 September 1999
At dawn yesterday, an enthusiast from Penzance, who had travelled through the night, was among the 300 birdwatchers observing the short-billed dowitcher pulling worms from the seaweed covered mud at Rosehearty, near Fraserburgh.
The identity of the dowitcher (limnodromus griseus) had been confirmed by its distinctive call less than 24 hours before. Details were transmitted around Britain by Birdnet, an agency which pages birdwatchers with news of interesting sightings.
"The phones were going berserk yesterday once people realised what was happening," said Andrew Webb, the official bird recorder in north-east Scotland. He said some people watched from dawn until dusk.
"This is the most exciting event of the birdwatching year," said Robert Coleman of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. "Word gets around very quickly on the grapevine. When a rare bird like this turns up, we all rally together to make sure that everyone gets a chance to see it.
"There have only ever been two sightings of this bird in Europe - one in Ireland, the other in Germany. It is an American wading bird that has probably been picked up by one of the hurricanes and blown thousands of miles off course. If it stays until the weekend I would expect over 1,000 people to turn up."
A number of other, more common, American waders, notably pectoral, white- rumped and semi-palmated sandpipers, have been blown on to the Western Isles over the past week.
The short-billed dowitcher is about the size of a pigeon, has long legs and is grey with a long probing beak. The one found in Aberdeenshire has some wing feathers missing, which may reflect a traumatic journey, but, according to experts, it does not seem too exhausted. In order not to disturb the dowitcher further, the birdwatchers are not venturing closer than 25 metres.
Mr Webb said the bird's sex was uncertain. It was feeding well, but he did not expect it to remain in Aberdeenshire for more than a few days. "It will probably move south as winter comes," he said.
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Bali Nine executions in Indonesia: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford says she 'just wants to get it over with'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£14560 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Even though their premises have...
£44000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing company based in cent...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Installation / Commission...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...