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Plover: Caspian

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
Adansonia
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Plover: Caspian

Unread postby Adansonia » Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:22 pm

I was lucky to see this chap (which is a lifer for me) on the Letaba-Olifants tar road on 17 October.

It was standing on the gravel next to the road, and quickly flew of once another car approached. I would love to know whether it is seen often in Kruger.

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DuQues
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Re: Plover: Caspian

Unread postby DuQues » Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:56 pm

According to the Roberts VII:

At Lochinvar NP, Zambia, regularly tens of thousands in Oct and 30-35 000 in november. Common in north-central parts of s African range' uncommon elsewhere.

It also says:

In s Africa, mainly in Botswana, on northern perifery of Kalahari, with smaller numbers in Namibia, especially Etosha Pan, and w Zimbabwe; also Kgalagadi TFP, N Cape.
Uncommon in ne S Africa and Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, and E and W Cape. Range may have retracted away from arid south-west; described as 'widely spread' in S Africa in early 1900's, when large flocks near Swartkop R estuary , E Cape. Range and numbers have increased in Zimbabwe since late 1980's.

The little map shows very few sightings in SA, some at (more or less) Pafuri, some more around Letaba-Mopani.
So yes, that would be a brilliant sighting.

However... Look at the chest in this photo, it's white.
If I was to hazard a guess, I would say it's a Kittlitz's plover. Do you have more photos?
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

Adansonia
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Location: Queenswood, Pretoria

Re: Plover: Caspian

Unread postby Adansonia » Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:22 pm

Hi DuQues,

Unfortunately I have no photos from the front, but the following characteristics lead me to believe that it was indeed a Caspian plover:

1. It was almost twice as big as a Kittlitz's plover (which I know very well), and had very long legs.
2. It lacked the buff collar of Kittlitz's (the collar and buff is uniform in colour).
3. Although difficult to see it definitely had a greyish-brown breast band, which I saw clearly in flight. (If one looks closely at the photo, there is a visible greyish area between the neck and belly.)
4. Just for good measure I send the photo through to Trevor Hardaker (renowned SA birder), and he confirmed the ID.

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wildtuinman
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Re: Plover: Caspian

Unread postby wildtuinman » Tue Oct 09, 2012 4:03 pm

Took a Ferris Bueller day off to do some personal admin and managed to pop in to Kgomo-Kgomo to add this fellow to my life list. :D

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674
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Johan van Rensburg
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Re: Plover: Caspian

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Wed Sep 30, 2015 7:50 am

It is no wonder I have been dipping on this little brown job so many times! This medium sized summer visitor to South Africa from central Asia is often confused with juvenile Kittlitz’s plovers. However, it is markedly bigger than its South African cousin (bottom right in this shot). Besides, the complete grey-brown breasted band, prominent eyebrow and long-legged appearance make it stand out from other similar looking plovers.

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This is a difficult bird to connect with in South Africa and I have previously dipped on it at Devon, in various places in KZN and a few times at Kgomo Kgomo and Mkhombo. It is said to prefer dry habitats, often far from water, such as short grassland, sparsely vegetated plains, salt pans and ploughed or heavily grazed land.

On this twitch the GPS coordinate supplied by a fellow birder took me to a small mudflat just short of the famed Geddes Bay at Mkhombo Dam. Just before arriving at the given coordinate I spotted a promising candidate on the mudflats. Stop! :shock: Get the camera out and started up… where is the bean bag?

When I eventually had all the little ducks in a row, squinting against the harsh light that was against me I couldn’t find the plover. :big_eyes: I had to get the binoculars up to scan the area where I thought I saw the bird… There! It was still in the same spot, just standing shock still, blending perfectly into the sandy background.

My brief experience with the Caspian plover (Charadrius asiaticus) explains why I so battled to connect with this bird, it turning into a bogey after the sixth dip. They tend to remain stationary unless directly threatened in which case they will fly a short distance to alight at a similar area where finding them is again a challenge due to their natural camouflage. I was lucky enough to also have a little stint and Curlew sandpiper foraging close by to give a measure of size. :dance:

The main influx of these migrants starts in late September and they again leave late February, early March. While in our region it is highly nomadic, making them especially tough to twitch. It mainly eats insects, doing most of its foraging using the go-stop-go technique typical of plovers.
676 Latest lifers: Short-clawed lark, Caspian plover, Western marsh harrier, Rüppell's vulture, Spotted crake


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