Another Mega species for Hungary: Sharp-tailed Sandpiper – My New Lifer

Yesterday I felt quite bad and had some sleep in the afternoon. Meanwhile an SMS from our birding hotline has been silently received as I switched off the sound on my iPhone. 1,5 hour later I read it and was shocked by the content. The very first Hungarian occurrence of a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was reported from eastern Hungary.

I immediately departed for the bird despite I felt it was a bit late. Anyway we arrived about one hour before sunset. The sandpiper was seen briefly 5 minutes before our arrival but were never seen again. Bad luck.

Today I gave it another try. I left early to the Rókás (the name of the site in the Hortobágy National Park) though the light conditions were not good enough in the morning time. As more birders gathered it was a nice opportunity to relocate the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. We were browsing the sandpiper flock but it was hard to ID not Dunlin-like birds as the whole flock had been sleeping.

Another group of local birders arrived to the opposite site of the flooded agricultural field in a hope to find the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Surprisingly they found and adult Buff-breasted Sandpiper instead. What a site! Two mega sandpiper species at the same site on the same day. When they came to us Tamás Zalai, one of the most productive Hungarian birder, soon spotted an unusual bird which seemed to be the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. As the bird was sleeping we had to wait till it was starting to preen. The bird showed its features very well from every side.


Preening Sharp-tailed Sandpiper which has never ever been recorded in Hungary before. Image was kindly offered by my friend, János Oláh, Jr. © János Oláh, Jr./

It was a fantastic feeling to see this species in Hungary. I had been hunting this species since my first trip to Thailand and then in Indonesia. Today I’ve got a lifer, a lifer shorebird plus a bonus rarity. It is just awesome.

Rough estimation of shorebird numbers seen there:
Pied Avocet 8
Black-winged Stilt 6
Northern Lapwing 35
Little Ringed Plover 2
Common Ringed Plover 38
Grey Plover 1
Black-tailed Godwit 25
Common Redshank 15
Wood Sandpiper 6
Common Greenshank 2
Little Stint 15
Temminck’s Stint 1
Dunlin 350
Curlew Sandpiper 20
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper 1
Buff-brested Sandpiper 1 ad

Ruff 5

When we left the area I visited the Nagyszik soda lake at Balmazújváros for a potential year list addition. An adult Ruddy Turnstone was seen there by János Oláh, Jr. I could not find it but I found a Collared Pratincole instead which is a cool species for the area.

Shorebirds seen here:
Pied Avocet 2
Black-winged Stilt 4
Northern Lapwing 8
Common Redshank 8
Little Stint 6
Collared Praticole 1

Year list moved to 215 by also adding Red-backed Shrike and Lesser Grey Shrike. Life list moved back to 2,178 as I had to delete Eastern Great Egret a few week back.


Thanks a lot to the local rangers and János Tar aka ‘Mannu’, who found the bird, for the guidance and care.


2 thoughts on “Another Mega species for Hungary: Sharp-tailed Sandpiper – My New Lifer

  1. Since our departure the following species have been found on the very same area (Rókás and adjacent Hortobágy fishponds):
    Pectoral Sandpiper (rarity but annual)
    Great Black-headed Gull (rarity)
    Dalmatian Pelican (rarity)
    Terek Sandpiper (rarity)
    This is an incredible May. So many rare birds on one single flooded area!

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