miércoles, 10 de septiembre de 2014

Pectoral Sandpiper

To open the present post, a couple of photos of the main irrigation pond in Las Martelas, the first showing the maximum water-level typically found in the winter months. Dotted around on the surface are various Coots (Fulica atra); small numbers of Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), and other Anatidae frequently occupy this pond from late autumn onwards.

The second shot, taken from a slightly different angle, shows the same pond as it looks at the moment: virtually empty, with just a few puddles of water in the bottom. Not exactly an inspiring landscape, but then long-distance migrants are hardly concerned about the scenic beauty of their stopover sites...

Take this juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) for example, discovered foraging in the almost dried out pond this morning, Sep 10. This North American wader is the most frequent Nearctic vagrant throughout Europe, and is becoming almost "regular" on La Palma: the present individual is my seventh to date on the island.

 Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) juvenile

Close-range photography is impossible under the present conditions, but these heavily-cropped images show most of the key identification features: yellowish legs, sharp demarcation between throat streaks and white belly, slightly decurved pale-based bill, and long primary projection.

 Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) juvenile

This sighting will be forwarded to the Spanish Rarities Committee in due course.

sábado, 6 de septiembre de 2014

Semipalmated Sandpiper

 Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla)

The first rarity of the 2014 post-breeding season was discovered at the saltpans in Fuencaliente this morning, Sep 6. This solitary Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) was found foraging together with two Dunlins (Calidris alpina), which provided an opportunity for  size comparison.

The bird's bill is certainly straight and shortish, but seems a little longer than that of the previous pusilla recorded at the same location four years ago (see Oct 2 2010 blog post for details). The legs of the present bird are not pure black, but tinged dark olive, with the partially-webbed inner and outer toes clearly visible.

In addition,  the very short primary projection beyond the tertials can also be appreciated. The only other Calidris with similar webbing is the Western Sandpiper (C. mauri), but mauri has a thinner and longer bill which is slightly decurved.

Below are a couple of shots allowing size-comparison with the Dunlins present at the same location.

Above and below: C. alpina and C. pusilla.

According to Rare Birds of the Canary Islands by Eduardo García-del-Rey and Francisco Javier García Vargas  (Lynx Edicions, 2013), to date, there have only been 5 records of this Nearctic wader on the Canaries:

La Palma     n = 1  24/09/2010
El Hierro     n = 1  14/10/2011
Tenerife      n = 2   18/10/1995 and 03/05/1997-05/05/1997
Lanzarote    n = 1   01/11/2008-04/11/2008

This sighting will be forwarded to the Spanish Rarities Committee in due course.