Saturday, 24 September 2011

American Sandhill crane st RSPB Strathbeg

From America to Aberdeenshire, re-routed rare crane arrives at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg September 2011. It may be playing host to thousands of wintering geese but it is a rare American arrival that is attracting attention at an RSPB Scotland nature reserve in Aberdeenshire. An adult sandhill crane, only the fourth ever to be recorded in Britain, has been spotted at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg.

The species normally breeds in North America and Canada, migrating south in the Autumn months. Staff believe this bird may have been blown off course by Hurricane Katia.

Diana Spencer, Visitor and Publicity Officer at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg said: "We've had a few ‘lost' American birds on the reserve recently, but we've never had one as large as this. It's quite unmistakable, similar in size to a heron with a bright red forehead, and long dark pointed bill. Despite having 12,000 geese on the reserve, all eyes, binoculars and telescopes have been on this new arrival. We're expecting it'll attract a lot of interest over the weekend from birders across the country."

Staff are also keen to hear from a visitor who reported a crane on the reserve on Saturday. It was presumed at the time this was a common crane but it's now thought this may have been the first sighting of the new arrival.

Birds like the Sandhill crane, which turn up miles from where they are supposed to be, are called vagrants. There is no way of knowing where this bird will go next. It has been seen preening itself, which suggests it is moulting. It is therefore likely it will remain at Loch of Strathbeg until it is in perfect condition to continue travelling south.

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