American waders at Dar Bouazza wetland, Morocco

By MaghrebOrnitho | 2 October 2019

Two Nearctic waders reported at Dayet Dar Bouazza, near Casablanca, during the last few days.

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)

Benoît Maire and his colleagues found this bird on 29 September 2019. This would be the 17th record for Morocco if accepted by the Moroccan Rare Birds Committee (MRBC).

The bird stayed at the site at least until 5 October (photo 2).

The Pectoral Sandpiper breeds in North America and also in Northern Siberia. So, how do we know birds we see here in North Africa (and Western Europe for that matter) are of American or Siberian origin?

This question is probably as old as the occurrence of the species in this part of the world. For example, it was discussed by a news article published in the journal Nature already in 1949. More recently, it was dealt with in more details by Lees and Gilroy in this British Birds article:  “Pectoral Sandpipers in Europe: vagrancy patterns and the influx of 2003”.

Here is a quote from the latter article:

“The annual influx of Pectoral Sandpipers into Europe may, therefore, consist of transatlantic vagrants caught up in severe weather systems, and also birds from both North America and Siberia which have developed an alternative migratory strategy, and now overwinter in Africa”.

Because the bird reported here was with another American bird (see below), it’s ‘more likely’ to be of American origin itself (hence the title!).

Pectoral Sandpiper / Bécasseau tacheté (Calidris melanotos), Dayet Dar Bouazza, Morocco, 29 Sep. 2019 (Benoît Maire).
Pectoral Sandpiper / Bécasseau tacheté (Calidris melanotos), Dayet Dar Bouazza, Morocco, 29 Sep. 2019 (Benoît Maire).
Pectoral Sandpiper / Bécasseau tacheté (Calidris melanotos), Dayet Dar Bouazza, Morocco, 5 Oct. 2019 (Benoît Maire).
Pectoral Sandpiper / Bécasseau tacheté (Calidris melanotos), Dayet Dar Bouazza, Morocco, 5 Oct. 2019 (Benoît Maire).

American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica)

Shaun Robson and his group heard the news about the Pectoral Sandpiper via eBird, and decided to twitch it next day (see Shaun’s tweet below). The group not only found their target, but was rewarded by finding another ‘much rarer bird’: an American Golden Plover.

The bird stayed at the site at least until 13 October.

This would be the 6th record for Morocco if accepted by the MRBC. The 5th record was photographed at Zemamra (inland from Oualidia) in autumn 2016.

American Golden Plover / Pluvier bronzé (Pluvialis dominica), Dayet Dar Bouazza, Morocco, 30 Sep. 2019 (Shaun Robson).
American Golden Plover / Pluvier bronzé (Pluvialis dominica), Dayet Dar Bouazza, Morocco, 30 Sep. 2019 (Shaun Robson).

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