One of the unique and most charismatic birds in South America, high if not top on any birders’ list of target species when they visit its range, is Phegornis mitchellii, long known as Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, or affectionately abbreviated as DSP. Its long and droop-tipped bill is unlike that of typical plovers, hence the compound sandpiper-plover, conveying a history of taxonomic uncertainty. Now, because it appears to be ‘simply’ an aberrant small plover, some authorities have castrated the name to Diademed Plover, or ‘just another’ plover, which DSP most certainly is not. But why stop there?
We were bumping down the road in the pick-up when suddenly Domi stomped on the brakes, put the truck in park, and jumped out of the driver’s seat.
“ARMY ANTS!” he exclaimed in an excited voice, quickly pulling down the ladder to let our group climb down out of the back of the pick-up.
Geoff Hilton is Head of Research & Chief Scientist at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. The work of Geoff and his team supports the conservation of numerous species including spoon-billed sandpiper, Madagascar pochard, Greenland white-fronted geese, red-breasted geese and common scoter.
Last September I found myself on Chincoteague Island, setting of the mythical Misty of Chincoteague, a favorite book from my childhood. I’d arrived about a day and a half before to help facilitate a workshop to develop the Pacific Americas Shorebird Conservation Strategy. Partners from all over the Pacific coast of North, Central, and South America had gathered. We’d spent long days at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station, talking about threats facing shorebirds in the Pacific Americas. When we wrapped up for the day a few of us jumped on the chance to spend an hour at the beach, hoping to see some birds and maybe catch a glimpse of a pony or two.
“Let’s go wide open….let us go,” we said, “into the Sea of Cortez, realizing that we become forever a part of it; that our rubber boots slogging through a flat of eel-grass, that the rocks we turn over in a tide pool, make us truly and permanently a factor in the ecology of the region…
„Surely one of the core virtues of birding is its independent, even anarchic spirit“ (Gordon, 2015).
The North American Classification Committee (NACC) of the American Ornithologists’ Union (AOU) comprises appointed members who pass judgment and make determinations on species limits, English names, and related issues for the birds of North America.
May 3, 2015. I stand at my station in the Eilat Mountains, overlooking the Gulf of Aqaba, at the north end of the Red Sea. Stretching away to southwest, the mountains of Israel seamlessly give way to the mountains of Egypt, the boundary only recognizable thanks to the hand of man: the large, re-enforced border fence, interlaced with jagged barbed wire, threatening any foolish soul who would approach from either side.
Now in its 9th year (see previous post LINK), the Bradbury Mountain Spring Hawkwatch in Pownal, Maine attracts an average of over 1200 visitors annually. Furthermore, many times that number visit the summit throughout our two month season and briefly chat with the Official Counter or read our count board and display. Of those 1200+ folks, many have never heard of, or at least never visited, a “hawkwatch” before, as the culture of hawkwatching in Northern New England isn’t as ingrained in the birding culture or as widespread as in such places as Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.