Sunday, 30 June 2013

July's wader of the month.

I suppose after the recent trip it was inevitable that Diademed Sandpiper-Plover would be this month's subject. It is mostly referred to today as simply Diademed Plover, but we stick to the more exotic Diademed Sandpiper-Plover name as in our opinion that best descibes this unusual looking bird.

 Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, High Andes, Peru, 2013.
With its sandpiper-like bill you can't simply call this a plover, can you?
Diademed Sandpiper-Plover was first described from Chile by Fraser in 1845 as Leptopus (Leptodactylus) Mitchellii. In 1846 G.R. Gray described the genus Phegornis for the species and the bird's scientific name became Phegornis mitchellii which is the current name in use still today.

Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, High Andes, Peru, 2013.
The bird hardly needs a blow by blow guide to its identification, it is unique and looks like no other wader. Plus the fact that if you come across one you will be in the High Andes and almost certainly deliberately looking for it, so, will already have a pretty good idea of what you are looking for!

Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, High Andes, Peru, 2013.
Its preferred breeding habitat are the high Puna bogs from just under 3,000 to over 4,000 metres, but in winter it descends to as low as 2,000m in some parts of its range. It is usually encountered in pairs, or as in our case singly, they are not highly sociable birds and don't gather in large groups very often.

Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, High Andes, Peru, 2013.
Despite its rarity, this bird is not globally threatened, but is considered near-threatened. As it lives in largely uninhabited areas it is thought that it is relatively secure, but still the population is thought to be declining.

Puna grassland and bogs, home of the Diademed Sandpiper-Plover.
Here are some of the other wader species that can be found in the same extraordinary habitat:

Andean Lapwing Vanellus resplendens

Grey-breasted Seedsnipe Thincorus orbignyianus

Puna Snipe Gallinago andina
Some avian non-wader congeners.


Andean Goose Chloephaga melanoptera

Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola

Andean Gull Larus serranus

Giant Coot Fulica gigantea


Puna Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola juninensis

Taczanowski's Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola griseus

White-fronted Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola albifrons

Andean Negrito Lessonia oreas

and last but not least non-avian wildlife.

Northern Vischacha Lagidium peruanum

Bumble bee sp.

Montane Guinea Pig Cavia tschudii

Mouse sp.
Vicuñas Vicugna vicugna
Dodgy-looking birders Homo waderquesticus

References:

Birdlife International (2013) Species factsheet: Phegornis mitchellii. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 30/06/2013.

Piersma, T. 1996. Charadriidae (Plovers). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 3. pp 384-442. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.


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