miércoles, 29 de enero de 2014

Black-tailed Godwit 2014

 Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

On February 8 2013, I posted photographs of two Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa) discovered in an irrigation pond in Las Martelas (Los Llanos de Aridane). Is it mere coincidence that two birds of the same species have just appeared within a few hundred metres of the previous location, one year later, almost to the day?

The present individuals were first observed on January 28, and raise the question as to whether migrants "learn" stopover sites and return to them in successive years, regardless of how far off the theoretical standard migratory route they happen to be. There have been a number of similar cases in recent years on La Palma.

To species level, identification poses no problems, but now comes the interesting part...

As far as the subspecies is concerned, I would opt for the nominate Limosa limosa limosa. Firstly, on the grounds of distribution - islandica does not winter as far south as the Canaries - and secondly, due to the shallow-sloping forehead, characteristic of ssp. limosa.

The very orange base of the lefthand bird's bill, fairly dense barring on the breast, almost black legs, and overall "warm" plumage tones seem to indicate a male acquiring breeding plumage. As to the righthand bird, could this be another male less advanced in its moult? Bill length and body size appear to be fairly similar in both birds: females should be larger, with longer bills.

Just to discount the remote possibility of the Hudsonian Godwit (L. haemastica), noted for its black underwing coverts, I have included the rather blurred shot below.

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