Written by Birdwatch News Team
An American wader has been added to the list of breeding birds on this side of the Atlantic following the discovery of a Killdeer with two juveniles on Santa Maria in the Azores.
Killdeer ?? Gyorgy Szimuly/WorldWaders
The amazing find was made by island resident Alan Vittery, who discovered the birds by chance on 29 May. He had seen Killdeers on a number of occasions on the island since last autumn, though had no idea they were still present and breeding in May. He told Birdwatch: “I had to collect our neighbours from the airport and passed by the rapidly receding pools. I saw a Killdeer and was photogaphing it when two juvs walked past! They disappeared into cover so I went back the following morning and took more photos.”
Killdeer is one of the less frequent American wader to reach the Western Palearctic, but the Azores is – unsurprisingly – the location most likely to attract the species. The Birding Azores website lists 18 records, half of them in the last 10 years, though it does not include all the sightings from Santa Maria this winter. Multiple occurrences are not unknown and include three together on Corvo in January this year, although Alan Vittery believes as many as five different adults may have appeared on Santa Maria in the months prior to breeding taking place.
As the latest Nearctic shorebird to nest in the Western Palearctic, Killdeer joins a very select list which includes Pectoral and Spotted Sandpipers (both of which have bred in Scotland) and White-rumped Sandpiper (which has been seen displaying on Svalbard).
A confirmatory photograph of an adult Killdeer with one of the juveniles appears in the July issue of Birdwatch, on sale in UK newsagents from 17 June