Twitchers Flock to First Little Ringed Plover in SA
While the highlight of the past week remained the presence of a Ross’s Turaco in northern Botswana (which continued to show well through the weekend too), the balance of excitement shifted when a Little Ringed Plover was reported out of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. The bird was located at Tankatara Salt Pans on Saturday morning. This is the first record of a Little Ringed Plover for South Africa and only the second such record for the subregion. This truly massive bird saw twitchers from around the country trying to sort out immediate travel plans, with many of the top listers heading out without much hesitation. The bird was initially reported by Jo Balmer, Gregg Darling and Keith Joubert.
On top of the discovery of the Little Ringed Plover, another massive rarity in the form of a Citrine Wagtail was picked up later on Saturday afternoon at the same location as the Plover. While the bird is located on a piece of land that is restricted from public access, Trevor Hardaker managed to organize access for the twitchers and by Sunday morning a number of birders from various provinces managed to connect with the bird.
The Citrine Wagtail had not been seen by many of the twitchers who had left by midday, however, later in the afternoon the bird was once again picked up in the same location that it had been seen on the Saturday, no doubt a bit of a bummer for some of those who had already departed. Though I think it is safe to assume that these individuals were still grinning ear to ear after the success on the Little Ringed Plover, the original target bird.
As of Monday 28th August 2017, the bird remained at the Tankatara Salt Pans, which was still allowing access to twitchers.
About Little Ringed Plovers
Little Ringed Plover are easy to separate from the Common Ringed Plover in the field. They are slightly smaller than the Common Plover, but more distinctly, they have a distinct yellow eye-ring. The Common Ringed Plover on the other hand has a fully black eye, along with a yellow beak with a black tip, whereas the Little Plover has an almost completely dark bill, lacking the vibrance of the Common Ringed Plover’s bill.
Little Ringed Plover are by no means strangers to Africa, migrating each year in large numbers to central and northern parts of the continent. However, they rarely ever approach the southern portions of Africa and as stated before, this represents only the second record for the Southern African subregion.