Collared Plover and others

Big expanses of beach with large tracts of forest within 100 meters: that’s Playa Grande just north of Cahuita. Here are just some of the beach birds we found:

Collared Plover at the beach, Playa Grande; photo by Larry Waddell
Collared Plover at Playa Grande; photo by John Beer

The least common of the plovers and sandpipers scuttling along the beach was the Collared Plover (Charadrius collaris). This is a tropical species, unlike most of the other shorebirds here, which are migrants from the north. It was the first bird we found when we arrived at Casa Doña Julia, where we were well attended by owner-manager Gil. The house is right on the beach. The pink legs of the Collared Plover are noticeable at close quarters and allowed us to easily separate the pair we found from the Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus). The latter is a bird well-known to North American birders but is a passage migrant and, uncommonly, a winter resident here on the Caribbean.

Semi-palmated Plover; photo by John Beer

Present in addition to the two chaladrius species were two much larger Black-bellied Plovers (Pluvialis squatarola). One of them flew briefly, enabling us to see the white wing stripe and black axillars that separate it from the rare American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica). These two plover species are hardly ever seen in breeding plumage in Costa Rica.

Black-bellied Plover; photo by John Beer

As you can see, all these birds allowed a close approach and John and Larry were able to get these excellent photos. Here is the Semipalmated Plover once again, with its yellowish legs and white nucal collar.

Semi-palmated Plover; photo by Larry Waddell

Here is the last plover pic…..

Black-bellied Plover; photo by Larry Waddell

…. after which our attention turned to a very small sandpiper:

Least Sandpiper; photo by John Beer

Leg colour was again what we had to look at, as North American readers will surely know. The yellowish legs of this little guy, who was all alone, made it a Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) as opposed to a Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri). The other likely candidate, the Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla), has black legs like the Western but is absent from Costa Rica at this time of year.

After beachcombing we then wandered inland (less than 2 minutes’ walk) hoping to find Cinnamon Woodpecker…

John Beer saw this handsome woodpecker on his previous visit to this location.

and White-necked Puffbird. In my next post you’ll see how we did!

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