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American golden plover, Vågsvoll bay, Lista Lighthouse, September 22, 2012
American golden plover, Vågsvoll bay, Lista Lighthouse, September 22, 2012
American golden plover (Pluvialis dominica), new species for Lista Bird Observatory

European and American golden plover. Lista Lighthouse, September 22, 2012
European and American golden plover. Lista Lighthouse, September 22, 2012
The two golden plovers together. The differences are subtle, but it can still be seen that the American golden plover (in focus) is more grey and a has more marked eyebrow.

American golden plover, Vågsvoll bay, Lista Lighthouse September 22, 2012
American golden plover, Vågsvoll bay, Lista Lighthouse September 22, 2012
A slightly different pose than above, with light conditions making the bird appear more grey. Long legs and wing tips extending well beyond the tip of the tail are characteristic of American golden plover.

New bird species get registered frequently at the bird observatory. The American golden plover is the first new bird this year to be entered on the observatory’s species list. The list now contains 333 different species, which makes the observatory’s recording area around Lista lighthouse the number one location in Norway with the most registered different bird species. American golden plover has been seen at Lista before, once in 2002 and once in 2009. The newly discovered bird is however the first to be seen within the Lista lighthouse area. It is also the first young individual registered at Lista, as the previous two birds were adults in summer plumage.

By J.E. Røer

When the two golden plovers came flying in over the area and landed, both Tellef Vestøl and Geir Birkeland, who were out birding together with Jan Erik Røer, were puzzled: Wasn’t one of those plovers slightly smaller than the other? Luckily the birds landed behind the bonfire place between the lighthouse and the Vågsvoll bay, which meant that it would be possible to get closer to them without being seen. Tellef and Geir had no problems convincing Jan Erik that they ought to check out the birds at a closer distance. The three of them headed off towards the place where they saw them land. Golden plovers have the ability to camouflage themselves efficiently, even in very short grass. Since the three birders definitely didn’t want to flush the birds, they moved slowly and it took them 7-8 minutes to find the two birds again between the rocks toward the water line.

The two birds seemed very similar at first. As they moved slowly and steadily toward the observers, it became more and more evident: One of the birds were less yellow and brown than the other, the eyebrow was more marked, and it seemed to be both slimmer and more erected than the other. As the birders studied them, it became more and more clear that the two birds had different characteristics. One of them was definitely a young European golden plover, and the other one had to be either an American or a Pacific golden plover. The birds were photographically documented as they moved closer to the observers. Finally the long-legged, erected and long-winged profile with wing tips extending well beyond the tip of the tail became evident. Other characteristics as few “indents” on the tertials and grey under the wings were also checked, after seeing the bird in flight. It had to be a young American golden plover. Other birders in the area were informed and several came to see it.

This is the third discovery of American golden plover at Lista, the first one was discovered in 2002, and was also the first seen in Norway. The two previous discoveries at Lista are of adult birds at Tjørveneset on July 5th 2002, and at Kviljoodden June 8th-9th 2009. American golden plover has 10 registered occurrences in Norway up until 31.12.2009 (NSKF). After this date only a few discoveries have been made. Most of the discoveries made have been of adults birds in the summer months. More than half of the discoveries are made at Røst, in addition to some in Møre and Romsdal and in Rogaland, i.e. all birds were found along the Norwegian west coast.

American golden plover breeds in Northern Canada and Alaska, and is very similar to Pacific golden plover breeding in Siberia. These two species were previously assumed to be one and the same. Better optics and photographic equipment over the last few years, together with better knowledge on how to separate the two, has probably contributed to the fact that the American golden plover went unnoticed in Norway up until 2002.

Ringing numbers
This season2761
Top 3 today:
Common Starling10
Blue Tit5
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Seasonal deviation
Little Auk2-98%
Spotted Nutcracker4-97%
Greater Scaup1-95%
Sedge Warbler19-95%
Northern Lapwing103-95%
Carrion Crow46+260%
European Goldfinch1242+250%
Eurasian Collared Dove75+249%
Horned Lark58+232%
Common Buzzard204+230%
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