Saturday, January 11, 2014

The traveller phalarope

We all know that shorebirds (in general) are great, long-distance migrants.  It is incredible how these lightweight birds fly thousands of miles twice a year from and to their breeding grounds... but some of them stand remarkably.  That's the case of one of the Red-necked Phalaropes with attached tracking devices from Shetland (north-east of Scotland).  It was thought that these birds wintered in the Arabic Sea, the logical route... however, this individual preferred the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean in Ecuador and Peru!  That's right, a 16000 miles round trip crossing the Atlantic Ocean through Iceland and Greenland and flying along North America's east coast and the Caribbean to finally end in Peru... and back!
Red-necked Phalarope in basic plumage.  Aguadulce Salinas (Panama), August 17th, 2013.
But you know what is more amazing?  This bird probably flew over Panama, specifically over the Aguadulce Salinas (saltflats).  In this article, the short video shows the route followed by this particular Red-necked Phalarope... check the migration route over Panama (at minute 1:10).  I've always wondered what does this pelagic species inland during its passage... now this "new" migration route provides a logical explanation.  So, next time you see a Red-necked Phalarope inland, ask yourself if is not coming from northern Europe!

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