As every dedicated ‘twitcher’ knows, speed is of the essence in response to a mega-rarity report, this in the knowledge that the ‘lost’ bird will soon be on its way again once it re-orientates navigationally…

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Mpempe Pan

And so, we paid little attention to the rarity posting of well over a month ago of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper record for northern KwaZuluNatal to the east of the Mkuze Game Reserve as our intended holiday destination.

Surprisingly, sporadic sighting reports of this principally North American shorebird that winters in South America, kept trickling through in a tantalising manner that triggered the desire to have a ‘crack’ at this improbable sighting in spite of the odds…

This decision involved slipping out of the eastern gate of the game reserve with the locality coordinates in hand and a three-hour window in mind for the round trip encompassing an hour maximum in the target area to connect with the bird and the return run ahead of gate closing time.

As luck would have it, we connected in perfect afternoon light after a twenty-minute search of the area, and spent the remaining time allotted to enjoying and photographing this accommodating shorebird from the comfort of our 4×4 before heading back to camp for a celebratory sundowner!

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

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