Champions of the Flyway!

Thursday, July 8, 2021

American Golden Plover - Filey, 13th May '21


The already weird spring of 2021 gets weirder (and even better). It's increasingly hard to keep up, I know (for me at least), but a series of calls I recorded at 2317hrs on 13th May at my North Cliff nocmig site here in Filey was, after extensive investigations, nothing less than an American Golden Plover

Rewind back to the 14th May, and after retrieving my recorder and checking through the content, I was very happy with the night's work - a Common Sandpiper, a couple of Oystercatchers, and nocmig gold in the form of a Eurasian Bittern (locally less than annual) over at 2244hrs. About half an hour later, a series of distinctive and (thankfully) very clear calls - presumably from a wader, but not instantly recognisable - registered, and sounded interesting enough to take further.
As mentioned recently, I'm lucky to have the wisdom of those far more skilled and experienced in such things than I to call on, and my go-to for anything out of the ordinary is always Magnus (Robb); I've learned more, and had more help, from Magnus in these first stages of my nocturnal sound recording journey than I could've ever hoped for. I sent it to him with a comment down the lines of 'this is probably an aberrant sandpiper or plover, but....', to which he immediately suggested American Golden Plover. Yikes.... 

Heading for the wonderful library of online recordings on Xeno-Canto, I spent a good while comparing, as well as digging further into possible commoner explanations, but kept circling unavoidably back to AGP...


As always in these situations, and as previously mentioned often in nocmig blog dispatches, caution is paramount when dealing with potentially rare nocturnal flight calls, and the procedure goes something like this: If it's interesting, investigate via available resources (Xeno-Canto, the Sound Approach, etc) and discuss with the local group; if it's still interesting and unresolved, get expert opinions and investigate more, including posting on Xeno-Canto and Trektellen for comment; if expert opinions concur, seek further expert opinions if necessary, always of course with an emphasis on ruling out an aberrant commoner species. Which, happily, is how the above played out over the last few days. 

While emailing about the Black-crowned Night-heron last week - I know, keep up at the back - Stanislas (Wroza - European sound recording expert) asked if I'd got any further with the potential American Golden Plover, which he and James (Lidster), as well as Magnus, both felt was spot-on for AGP; just the nudge I needed after a very busy few weeks, and so I sent further emails to various learned contacts.

All of whom, to my surprise and joy, independently verified the series of calls as a bolt-on, unequivocal American Golden Plover. Included in the above were resounding verifications from Michael O'Brien and Quentin Dupriez (renowned experts on either sound of the pond), who were all (crucially) able to rule out any aberrant commoner alternatives. And with that, it was time to edit that trektellen entry....