The handsome little Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos was first recorded in Southern Africa in 1949. Interestingly, there has been a massive increase in the number of records since then. I have not fully traced all of these, but a quick scan of the literature shows that there were only 4 records before 1969, and at least 36 from 1970-1990. I have not counted the number of records in the new millenium, but I would guess that in the last few years we have had at least five individuals every summer. The breeding range extends from the cold Siberian tundras to Canada, with most birds wintering in South America and smaller numbers winter in eastern Asia and Australia. The species is a regular vagrant to the Western Palearctic, and some of the birds we get in Southern Africa may hail from there. However, we probably also get a fair number of trans-Atlantic vagrants from the Nearctic, and the species has been recorded on oceanic islands such as Tristan de Cunha (as well as the Seychelles and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean). This individual was present at Rooikoppies Dam for several days in March 2008, and provided great views to the assembled twitchers. I found another Peccie at Vaalkop Dam the following season, only a few kilometres from Rooikoppies as the sandpiper flies.
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