Although the lack of sleep was catching up on me from the continuous tour leading I found myself in a somewhat brighter than normal mood on 8th June. There was nothing exceptional about the day, it was sunny with a warm breeze blowing from the east and the minibus back door was jammed shut whilst the engine started without a hitch. All was pretty normal until we ( me and a group from Travelling Naturalist) pulled up at Stinky Bay on the west side of Benbecula. I was pointing out a couple of close Whimbrel on the beach when I noticed a pale bird amongst the mixed flock of smaller waders further up the beach. It appeared to have some rich orange colouring around the neck and was a little larger than the accompnaying Dunlin and Ringed Plover. My scope was kindly passed over and I balaned it on the dash of the bus so I could steady it whilst my heart began to beat a little quicker. I focussed in on the mystery wader and could hardly believe the words that came out of my own mouth “It’s a sand plover”. There was a cacophany of questions but by this time I was out the door with my tripod and attempting to ascertain which species of sand plover we had. The heavy bill and leggy look pointed to Greater Sand Plover and once we had creapt a little closer in the bus my suspicions were confirmed; a real knee-trembler! During the next half an hour we managed to secure a number of photos and a couple of people arrived to admire the bird although around 10 am it flew inland, seperatiing from the main group of waders much to the disappointment of a number of others who arrived just a little too late.
Luckily this mega was relocated in a nearby field late in the evening and showed well on and off in Stinky Bay during the next day (see Gary Waddington’s blog). We went on to have an excellent day’s birding on the 8th with excellent views of a pair of Red-necked Phalaropes, a 1st yr Little Gull at Balranald, 2 showy Corncrakes, an immature Iceland Gull at Loch na Reivil, an Osprey over the main road, a scattering of male Hen Harriers and a fine adult Golden Eagle.