jueves, 27 de octubre de 2011

Lesser Yellowlegs...at last!

Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)

The juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) shown in the present post was discovered at the saltpans in Fuencaliente (Las Salinas) this morning, foraging together with 2 Redshanks (Tringa totanus), 2 Curlew Sandpipers (Calidris ferruginea) and a Little Stint (Calidris minuta) - plus the usual Ringed Plovers (Charadrius hiaticula) and Turnstones (Arenaria interpres).

Identification of this species at such close quarters poses few problems, and most of the relevant points can be appreciated in the present series of images: the fine, straight, dark-coloured bill; the long primary projection beyond the tertials and tail; the short supercillium mainly in front of the eye...and, of course, the unmistakable, mustard-yellow legs.

Eduardo de Juana (Aves Raras de España, Lynx, 2006) gives the following figures for sightings of this North American breeding species up to the year 2003: GB 216, France 34, mainland Portugal 11, Azores 14...with 49 records in Spain for the same period, of which 7 were in the Canaries.

More recent information gleaned from Canary Islands Birding News mentions 9 Canary Island records accepted by the Spanish Rarities Committee from the islands of La Palma (J.M. Castro, Las Martelas, 2003), Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, with a few more pending homologation. At national level, the same source quotes a figure of 54 birds.

The Spanish observations peak in autumn, coinciding with those of mainland Portugal and North Africa, and are noticeably later than those of other European countries, suggesting that these trans-Atlantic vagrants initially make landfalls further north, and then move progressively south.

Having already seen a number of the commoner Nearctic waders on La Palma, I had been looking forward to my first Yellowlegs, and this sighting will be submitted to the Spanish Rarities Committee in due course.

The next two images are included merely to highlight a specific identification feature: the white rump, with no white V (pointed extension) running up the back, as in Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), Redshank (T. totanus) and Marsh Sandpiper (T. stagnatilis)

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