Highlands & Islands

Rare red-necked phalaropes 'best Scottish season in years'

Red-necked phalaropes Image copyright RSPB Images
Image caption Red-necked phalaropes are a migratory species

A bird described as an "extremely rare" visitor to the UK has had one its best breeding seasons in years in Scotland.

Red-necked phalaropes migrate to the Western Isles and to Orkney and Shetland during the summer.

Thirty-six breeding males were counted on RSPB Scotland's reserve in Fetlar, Shetland, equalling the highest number that has ever been recorded there.

A pair also bred at an RSPB reserve at Balranald in North Uist for the first time in 31 years.

Argyll, the most southerly the birds breed in the UK, had its best year on record with six males present, RSPB Scotland said.

Malcie Smith, the charity's species and habitats officer for Shetland, said: "It was so exciting to see that many phalaropes about for their very short summer season.

"It's very satisfying that our work here is paying off and that birds are now breeding in record numbers."

In a reversal of roles among birds, it is male red-necked phalaropes that incubate eggs and raise chicks.

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