restricted access Shorebirds
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Three-banded Plover is an abundant breeding resident that is present at almost every patch of water in Kruger. Three-banded Plover L: 18 cm (7") A small, short-billed, brown-backed, white-bellied plover with two black breast-bands, grey cheeks, a white ring around the crown, and bright red skin around the eye and on the base of the bill . It is an abundant breeding resident that is present on almost every patch of water in Kruger . Calls “weet-weet” as it flies off when alarmed, showing prominent white sides to the long diamond-shaped tail, which it bobs upon landing . The call, tail-bobbing behaviour, and flight style are similar to those of Common Sandpiper . Common Sandpiper L: 19 cm (7·5") This is a short-legged, slim-billed shorebird, with a hunched, horizontal carriage . It has a dark grey-brown back, greyish smudges on the breast, and an indistinct dark stripe through the eye and pale eyebrow . At close quarters you can see fine barring on the wings but more conspicuous is a white ‘hook’ beside the breast, curving up in front of the wing . It flies low over the water with bursts of rapid, shallow beats on stiffly bowed wings, showing a conspicuous white wingbar, a dark rump, and white along the edges of the tail, and often gives a ringing “pee-weee” call . Upon landing, and at other times, it characteristically bobs its hindquarters . A common spring and summer migrant (October–April) to many of Kruger’s waterbodies, where it may even stand on the back of a semi-submerged Hippopotamus or Nile Crocodile when foraging . Wood Sandpiper L: 19 cm (7·5") A medium-sized, elongated shorebird, with a strong white eyebrow extending behind the eye and a dark back spangled with buff-white spots . Its legs are long and yellow, and the straight bill is intermediate in length between Common Sandpiper and Common Greenshank (page 48) . In flight it has uniform brown wings with no pale wingbar, and a square white rump . The underwings are pale, distinguishing it from the much rarer Green Sandpiper (not illustrated) . Wood Sandpiper is perhaps the most common summer migrant (October–April) shorebird to freshwater habitats in Kruger, and is often detected by its distinctive high-pitched whistling “chiff-iff-if” calls in flight . Shorebirds: 1 46 three-banded plover wood sandpiper commion sandpiper BIRDS OF RIVERS AND WETLANDS 47 Common Greenshank L: 32 cm (13") A rather large, greyish shorebird with long yellow-green legs, and a long, just perceptibly upturned two-tone bill that is greyish at the base and dark at the tip . In flight, a large white wedge extends from the rump to between the shoulders, and the wings are plain dark . The scarcer Marsh Sandpiper is similar, but smaller, more delicate, and has a needle-like bill . Common Greenshank is a common spring and summer visitor (October–April) to a variety of freshwater habitats, where it is usually the largest migrant shorebird present, walking deliberately on long legs and probing for food in the mud . It gives a distinctive loud, ringing “teu-teu-teu” call in flight . Marsh Sandpiper L: 24 cm (9") Marsh Sandpiper is rather like the Common Greenshank, but is smaller and more lightly built, with proportionately longer legs and an all-dark, needle-thin bill . In flight, it is also similar to Common Greenshank, with a large white wedge extending from the rump to between the shoulders, but the toes are more conspicuous, projecting farther beyond the end of the tail . Marsh Sandpiper is a scarce spring and summer migrant (October–April) in Kruger, where it prefers temporary wetlands and river edges, feeding on insects and other invertebrates . Its calls, “tlit-tlit-tlit-tlit”, are higherpitched than those of Common Greenshank . Shorebirds: 2 48 Black-winged Stilt L: 34 cm (13") A distinctive black-backed, white bird, with red eyes, thin black needle-like bill and extremely long pink legs . Younger birds are browner on the back and have a white trailing edge to the wing . In flight, the adult shows a white wedge from the tail to the shoulders between black wings, and its long legs trail conspicuously, its feet often crossed . In the water it marches in goose-step fashion, lifting its legs high with long strides, while picking food from the surface . It is an uncommon resident in Kruger and can be found along any shallow still waters . Calls a high-pitched “kik-kik-kik...