You’re out on a walk near a river and the mud flats, and you come across a Sanderling? (I’ll happily be corrected, bird identification isn’t my strong point) stuck in the mud. So what do you do?
My first thought was that I need to be sure it is stuck and that it isn’t actually ok where it is. So we left it, knowing that we would be coming back in about 20 minutes. We came back and it was still there. We even tried to scare it in case it got up and flew away, but its legs and wings were stuck now. It looked utterly exhausted.
Now I really must say, don’t go onto mud flats. It’s so dangerous and could kill you. However, I had my wife with me, with mobile phone, knowing that there were people not far away, and there was a wooden post in the mud and a piece of debris to stand on. We also had spare gear in the rucksack that my wife could use to help pull me out if I got in trouble.
Two steps, and one muddy foot later, and we had a small, frightened Sanderling out of the mud. The poor thing was exhausted, but we chose to leave it in the Heather next to the mud. It was perfectly camouflaged, so we were hoping it would have time to gather its strength, then get away. Whether it did get away, or maybe even if a fox got it because it was too tired; Either way would be better than staying stuck in the mud.
I just want to reiterate, do not go out onto mud flats. This was an unusual situation where I was certain I would be OK, but that if anything went wrong I had good backup.
Unfortunately, the Sanderling was just too exhausted by the whole experience and it looks like a fox got it. Still a better end than slowly drowning in the mud, and another animal got a meal. Sad, but OK at the same time.