My European stay continues to be a wonderful adventure, and recent trips to various locations in Provence, France, have allowed me to see new species. Here’s a quick run-down of waders that I have been able to add in the last few weeks, mostly from the Camargue region. None of them is a really rare bird, but many of them bear comparison with similar species in Costa Rica, and several of them are quite beautiful.
1. Black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Similar to our Black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)
2. Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
The corresponding species is the American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
3. Ringed plover (Charadrius hiaticula) and Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius)
In the Americas there are several small, confusing plovers of the kind that make quick little runs across sandy beaches and mudflats. It’s a bit easier in Europe, where the main problem is distinguishing these two. The Little ringed plover, however, has no wing-bar in flight and its legs are much paler than the yellow of the Ringed plover.
4. Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
The incomplete neck ring (even in breeding plumage) and pale appearance make this one a little easier to identify.
5. Dotterel (Eudromias morinellus)
What a lovely bird! We saw small flocks of up to twenty on the stony wastes of La Crau, a very distinctive and beautiful habitat near the Rhone delta.
6. Curlew sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
The white rump in flight and the down-curved bill make this one easy to distinguish, even when not in its ‘ferruginous’ summer plumage, like the bird on the right here.
7. Little stint (Caladris minuta)
In America, there are numerous species of ‘peeps’, making identification extremely difficult. In Western Europe, a tiny peep is almost always this species. Next size up is the Dunlin!
8. Spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus)
A darker (and in summer all-black) version of the Redshank. These and the Greenshank seem to be the European versions of our Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, but with legs of a different colour, obviously!
9. Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Compare this one with the Redshank.
10. Common sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucus)
The counterpart of our Spotted sandpiper. Its flight and behaviour give it away rather easily. No spots, however!
11. Wood sandpiper (Tringa glareola) and Green sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
12. Curlew (Numenius arquata) and Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Both slightly different species to those in the New World.
13. Stone curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
A fantastic bird to see up close with its yellow eye seeming to stare at you. Our equivalent is the Double-striped thicknee (Burhinus bistriatus), whose picture must, for the moment, stand alone. We had a good look at the Stone curlew on the stony waste of La Crau, but there was no chance of a photo.