During a recent photography trip to Laggan Sands on the Isle of Mull I was able to photograph this series of images of a juvenile Red knot (Calidris canutus). The juvenile can be identified by the buff coloured wash to the breast and the ‘V’ shaped marks on the breast, flanks and back.The Red Knot is generally a gregarious bird throughout much of the UK.
They are often seen in large numbers during the winter months and autumn migration, often in association with other waders. Their preferred habitat at these times are areas with large stretches of sand and tidal mud.
However, they are less common on the west coast of Scotland, indeed, Mull Birds quote that it is “an uncommon passage migrant, few records received …”
So I consider myself to have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to photograph this particular Red knot at Laggan Sands.
Red Knot are more often seen in large flocks during late autumn and winter. One of my most memorable birdwatching experiences as a youngster was during a winter visit to Hilbre Island and the Dee Estuary. Whilst during the summer it can be a quiet desolate area but for the birdwatcher but during autumn passage and winter it comes alive. Indeed for seeing passage migrants and winter wader flocks it is considered one of the finest estuaries in the UK.
It forms a vital link in the chain of west coast feeding areas and the estuary often holds up to 120000 birds during mid winter including huge flocks of Red Knot and many Common Redshank, Dunlin, Sanderling, Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit.
In my opinion there is no finer sight than a large wheeling flock of waders, twisting and turning as though following an unseen leader whilst the sun reflects off their wings.