Monday, 10 November 2014

Limosa Tour to Morocco November 2014

On the recent Limosa Tour to Morocco I found a Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris) at the Oued Souss on the last day of the tour 8th November 2014. It was associating with Red Knots (Calidris canutus). It was only the second record for Morocco. 

The most obvious features that struck me when scanning through the group of Red Knot were the dark breast and large spotted flanks. Although I knew immediately deep down that it was a Great Knot I couldn't quite believe it. They are just so rare in Africa (and Europe). Could it just be an aberrant Knot? Afterall the bird was in fairly poor light and quite distant (aren't they always). However with closer scrutiny the slightly larger size and longer bill were apparent. 

From photographs other features could be seen. The black tail contrasting with the white rump and uppertail coverts in flight, marginally broader wings and the less contrasting dark wingtips in which the primaries only gradually turn black towards the tip. It is thought to be a first winter bird due to the darkness of the mantle and coverts feathers.

Arnoud van den Berg who was also leading the tour quickly got on to the bird and began documenting the sighting including taking some photos of the bird feeding with his telescope that gave far greater magnification than my (and his) telephoto lens. There were nine other birdwatchers in the Limosa tour group and they all saw the bird. 

The bird is second bird from the right on top photo and second from left on the bottom one.