domingo, 18 de septiembre de 2011

Pectoral Sandpiper Sep 2011

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)

"Of all waders considered vagrants in Europe, this is by far the most frequent" - so begins the Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) entry in Aves Raras de España, E. de Juana 2006. Amongst other interesting data, the author informs us that almost 2,000 birds of this species were registered in Great Britain between 1968-2002, and in Spain, 163 individuals were recorded between the founding of the Spanish Rarities Committee in 1984, and the year 2003. Distribution of the Spanish records during this period were mainly from Galicia (50), Catalonia (28), and the Canaries (23), with the overwhelming majority in September, involving mostly juveniles.

The species breeds in northern tundra, between west Siberia and Hudson Bay, and may have extended westwards in the former region. This possibly accounts for the extremely high number of individuals detected in Europe, compared to other nearctic vagrants. In support of this hypothesis, Pectoral Sandpipers were recently observed in the Taimyr peninsula migrating in a south-westerly direction (Hjort, 2005).

The bird shown in this post was first detected on September 15 in Las Martelas (Los Llanos de Aridane), where at least two irrigation basins presently allow migrant waders to feed, either by walking across the floating pond weed as in the top photograph, or by foraging around the edges, as above. This is, incidentally, my fifth melanotos in recent years on La Palma: I saw two birds in September 2009, one in March 2010, and also one in September 2010 - all in the Las Martelas area, except the second of September 2009, which was found at Las Salinas, the saltpans on the southern tip of the island.

Front view, showing the abrupt junction between breast streaks and white belly

The Pectoral Sandpiper featured in this post was still in Las Martelas at the time of writing (Sep 18); details of this sighting will be submitted to the Spanish Rarities Committee in due course.

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