TUAMOTU SANDPIPER Prosobonia parvirostris

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 relatives are extinct, Captain Cook's voyages collected one of only three or four specimens. Recent taxonomic upheavals have split the complex in to four species, the originally described bird cancellata is now ascribed to Kirimati Sandpiper, which is extinct, resulting in a change of species name for Tuamotu to parvirostris. Current status is probably less than 200 birds.

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