TUAMOTU SANDPIPER Prosobonia cancellata

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One of the least known waders in the world, I was lucky enough to accompany Dave Rosair on a trip to see this, during his personal quest to see all the world's waders. Using the ship which connects these remote Pacific Islands, a day's diversion was agreed to Tahanea, an uninhabited atoll which was one of the last sites the birds had been reliably reported, and we struck lucky with both the Sandpiper and Bristle-thighed Curlew. These enigmatic birds climb around in low branches, as the photo shows, seemingly feeding on insects. Although classified as sandpipers their nearest relative, White-winged Sandpiper, is extinct, Captain Cook's voyages collected one of only three specimens. At present the Tuamotu Sandpiper isn't doing much better, recent information is scant, and numbers probably below two hundred, so I count myself very fortunate. Incidentally, the scientific name "cancellata" means lattice-like, a reference to the buff feather fringes, nothing to do with it being cancelled, thankfully!

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