Tuesday 21 September 2010


Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos), two juveniles. Galisteo, Cáceres. 17.09.10 (Javier Prieta).

Two juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers (Calidris melanotos) were observed from 17 to 19 September on Galisteo lake, Cáceres. The first bird was discovered by Ricardo Montero on the morning of Friday 17. On the afternoon of the same day Ricardo himself, together with Sergio Mayordomo and Javier Prieta, found and photographed two birds, both seen again on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 (César Clemente, Arian, Memole, José Ramón Martín). During these visits 12 different wader species were seen, together with Golden Eagles, Black Storks, up to 7 Spoonbills and several migrating passerines.

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos), juvenile. Galisteo, 17.09.10 (J. Prieta).

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos). Galisteo, Cáceres. 17.09.10 (J. Prieta). The two clear Vs on its back identify it as a juvenile.

The Pectoral Sandpiper is a rarity in Spain, although it is also the rare wader that turns up most often. By 2007 217 records involving 240 birds had been accepted (Díes at al. 2009). An unprecedented influx then occurred in autumn 2008, with 67 different birds recorded in Rare Birds in Spain. Another similar influx seems to have occurred in 2010, with at least 29 birds recorded in Spain from 2 to 17 September. It is therefore a species on the increase and on the point of forfeiting its rarity status.

Five records are known for Extremadura, two of them already accepted by the rarities committee:
1 - Los Canchales Reservoir (Badajoz), one juvenile, 14.09.02 (Francis Prieto).
2 - Valdesalor Reservoir (Cáceres), one juvenile, 05 and 06.09.06 (Sebastian Molano).
....... and another three pending acceptance from 2008 in Cáceres:
3 - Talaván Reservoir, one juvenile, 12.09.08 (S. Mayordomo).
4 - Casar de Cáceres Reservoir, one juvenile, 16.09.08 (Carlos Fernández).
5 - Valdesalor Reservoir, one juvenile, 14.10.08 (Carlos Fernández).
Pending publication of the 2008 and 2009 rarity reports, therefore, this will be the sixth regional record and the first one involving more than one bird. As with all the previous records, these are juvenile birds in post breeding dispersal, turning up on habitual dates (mid September).

The Pectoral Sandpiper breeds in the Arctic tundra of North America and Siberia, with an estimated population of several hundred thousand birds. It winters in Australia, South America and probably Africa. Most of the birds turning up in Europe have been traditionally considered to come basically from the North American Nearctic zone, though there is now thought to be a migratory route between Siberia and Africa, passing through Western Europe (De Juana, 2006; Gutiérrez, 2008). The theory has it that the Nearctic birds tend to move down the western part of the Peninsula and the Asiatic birds down the Mediterranean side. The Extremadura observations of 2008 and 2010 have coincided with increasing sightings in Mediterranean Spain, probably bound up with the arrival of Siberian birds, a population expanding westwards. It has even started to breed in Scotland very recently (RSPB).

- De Juana, E. (2006). Las aves raras de España. Lynx Edicions. Barcelona.
- Dies, J. E. et al (2009). Observaciones de aves raras en España, 2007. Ardeola 56:309-344.
- Gutiérrez, R. (2008). Pectoral Sandpiper influx in Spain, autumn 2008 (July-15 September).