Saturday, November 28, 2009

White-rumped Sandpiper

Yet another "Yank" (vagrant bird from America) has turned up in the Algarve; on 22nd November Simon Wates and the "Tavira Gang" (Peter Dedicoat, June Taylor and Ray Tipper) found a White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) - its Portuguese name is "Pilrito-de-uroprígio-branco" - at a small inlet near the beach at Martinhal, Sagres.

I went the following day (after Peter kindly phoned me to let me know about the bird) and found the bird straight away (it was the only bird there to begin with) and managed to get 200+ photographs. Unfortunately the light was very harsh and the bird was feeding actively and for most of the time faced away from me.

Unfortunately three Common Sandpipers (Actitis hypoleucos), a resident breeding species in the Algarve, turned up and one took exception to the presence of the American bird and began attacking it quite aggressively:

*Postscript: Like all Calidris waders, this small bird breeds in the northern hemisphere (often within the Arctic Circle) and then migrates south for the winter, often into the southern hemisphere (although some will linger in the southern regions of the northern hemisphere if weather conditions are not too harsh). This bird would normally winter in South America but has been blown off-course and carried across the Atlantic by severe westerly winds and cyclonic conditions. That is an amazing journey (more so when you consider that the plumage of this bird shows that it is a juvenile 1st winter bird born this summer) - what is even more amazing is that another bird of the same species turned up at the same locality on the 26th November, making these only the 7th and 8th records for this species in mainland Portugal; there are better 'odds' of winning the lottery than this happening!

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