Sunday 20 March 2011

Possible American golden plover

Yesterday Sav came through to Hawkes Bay and spent a bit of time birding.  I had a family thing on so, when we met up back at my place he told me he'd found a possible American golden plover (AGP) at Ahuriri Estuary.  He stayed the night to catch up and work on plans for Wrybill Birding Tours, NZ with upcoming seasons tours, etc., and then today we headed across to look for the bird.

It was in the same spot as the Pacific golden plover (PGP) normally are, on the muddy area exposed by the tide on Meeanee Quay (opposite the Albatross Motel).  We checked it out through the scope first, and then I tried to get some photos.  Middle of the day the heat haze was terrible, and with the 800mm it really seems to enhance the distortion of heat haze.  The birds were pretty flighty, it was there with 16 Pacific golden plover, the long-staying grey-tailed tattler, and a bar-tailed godwit, and they never allowed me to get that close.  However, I got a few record shots, including photos of the bird in flight.  Will have to see what others make of it, but it looks pretty good for an American golden plover to us.

The white supercilium is just so strikingly white, giving the bird a really capped appearance, and the almost total lack of any gold in the plumage (except for a thin strip appearing on the back - strangely similar to Tim Barnard's bird at Maketu - see here) with an overall very grey appearance look good.  As does the very pointed attenuated body shape of the bird, with the wings projecting well past the tail.

I've posted photos below, and will hopefully get some better ones with less distortion in the next few days.

Possible AGP on the left (grey-tailed tattler in foreground on right, with PGP behind)

Possible AGP on right, PGP moulting into breeding plumage on left

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