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Monday, January 13, 2020

Wilsons Phalarope Sighting in Velddrift South Africa

Wilson's phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) is a small wader. This bird, the largest of the phalaropes, breeds in the prairies of North America in western Canada and the western United States. It is migratory, wintering in inland salt lakes near the Andes in Argentina.

We went to twitch for the very rare vagrant Wilson's Phalarope at Kliphoek Saltpans in Velddrift on 11 January 2020 as the notices came in from our Whatsapp group. With hard luck, we missed the visitor by a few minutes as it had disappeared.  Michael Mason and I kept searching with to no avail.  We left with sad hearts.

I returned on the 12th of January 2020 to give it one more go, and my efforts paid off and I was rewarded with great sightings of this very busy wader enjoying our local saltpans. 

Its common name commemorates the American ornithologist Alexander Wilson. This bird is the largest of the phalaropes and is often very tame and approachable. Unlike the other phalaropes, this species does not have fully lobed toes and so rarely swims, spending no time at sea.

Scientific name: Phalaropus tricolor 
Mass: 57 g (Adult)
Encyclopedia of Life Conservation status: Least Concern (Population increasing) 
Encyclopedia of Life Rank: Species
Higher classification: Phalaropes
Kingdom: Animalia

The Barn owl 
This local resident at Kuifkopvisvanger takes up residence in the large date palm just outside the reception area.  We have confirmation that there are five barn owls that now reside here.

The above GPS map pinoints where the above images were taken.  I hope it helps you to locate this very rare bird from far North America, visiting Southern Africa.

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