Atlantic Forest Sandpiper doesn’t exist, does it?
Whilst living in Brazil, Elis and I enjoyed doing voluntary conservation work with a group of kids, living right on the forest edge. They had a utilitarian approach to the forest and its denizens. But gradually, as we worked with them we saw a change to a more caring and respectful attitude. These youngsters knew their forest birds well, some among them had even eaten a number of different species. It was therefore very unusual on our forest walks for us to hear someone ask for help with identification. On one occasion exactly that happened. I turned to see the boy who had asked, with his friends, peering at something avidly. To my surprise they were not looking at the surrounding bushes and trees but, along the track at a puddle.
Following their gaze I was dumbstruck to see a small Calidrine sandpiper. It was dashing about seeking something to eat, from one side of the puddle to the other. On closer inspection I discovered it was a Pectoral Sandpiper. The kids had never seen anything like it in their lives. I told them of the bird’s identity and that gave me the opportunity to tell them about migration. I explained how this small bird had flown down to their tropical neighbourhood all the way from the Arctic tundra. The children were wide eyed with admiration for the sandpiper and asked question after question. As to the question why it had arrived in their forest and not somewhere more expected, I could not answer.
After we had returned from our walk one of the little darlings was talking about the bird. He pointed out that the bird, which is known in Portuguese as maçarico-de-colete, had a bit of a pot belly. He then made the observation that had the group in stitches; “just like Rick!” From that moment on my nickname in the group was ‘maçarico’, and I tell you what, I couldn’t have been happier!
This story appeared in the very first newsletter that Wader Quest published back in April of 2014, watch out for the next issue due out tomorrow April 30th 2019.
Story by Rick Simpson