Monday 10 March 2014

Rufous-chested Dotterel

While we were still living in Brazil on the 27th June 2011, Elis and I, with a visiting birder from the USA, David Bates, went to do some birding at the small tidal marsh in front of the town of Parati in Rio de Janeiro. There wasn't much about and we were getting ready to leave when Elis saw what at first we thought was an American Golden Plover at a fair distance on the grassy area. When I looked at the bird thrugh my bins I was stunned to see that it was a Rufous-chested Dotterel.

Rufous-chested Dotterel Charadrius modestus; Parati, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 27/06/2011.
 The normal range of these birds in the Austral winter along the Atlantic coast is as far north as southern Brazil in Rio Grande do Sul, some 1,000km to the south.

Rufous-chested Dotterel Charadrius modestus; Tavares, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. 10/6/2011.
There had been one previous sight record of the species in Rio de Janeiro about 200km to the east in Maricá but this was the first photographically documented record for the state and the most northerly documented along the Atlantic coast of Brazil to date. We had just returned from a trip to Rio Grande do Sul a couple of weeks earlier, and of course, knowing how suspicious people can be, we made sure that not only did we get good shots of the bird I also got shots of Elis photographing the bird. I made sure there was recognisable scenery in the background to locate the sighting. We had found some false records being placed on the internet where people had claimed a photo was taken in a particular place when it was not, and felt sure we would be accused of the same, it was after all, a huge co-incidence.

Elis photographing the Rufous-chested Dotterel (circled) Parati, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The bird remained in the area for some time, we returned ourselves to see it accompanied by Oliver Simms, a British student who was volunteering with us in Brazil, on the 5th of July.
Rufous-chested Dotterel Charadrius modestus; Parati, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 27/06/2011.
Until we saw them on our Wader Quest marathon we had only ever seen them in non-breeding plumage so it was a real joy to find them in their handsome breeding plumage and displaying in southern Chile.

Rufous-chested Dotterel Chardrius modestus; Punta Arenas, Magellanes y Antárctica Chilena, Chile. 5/11/2013.
The species is considered to be of Least Concern although its population size is not known. It seems to be fairly common where it occurs and its choice of habitat is not under any immediate threat so it would seem that it is unlikely to decline in the short term at least.

Rufous-chested Dotterel Charadrius modestus; in display flight, Punta Arenas, Magellanes y Antárctica Chilena, Chile. 5/11/2013.
I wrote an article in Portuguese about the occurrence which appeared in Atualidades Ornitológicas N°162 July/August 2011.

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