Local site use and first northbound migration track of non-breeding Steppe Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus alboaxillaris (Lowe 1921)


219 – 227

9 December 18

Gary A. Allport, Philip W. Atkinson, Mariana Carvalho, Nigel A. Clark, Rhys E. Green


Gary A. Allport
BirdLife International, David Attenborough Building, Pembroke Street, Cambridge, CB2 3QZ, UK


Public Files

The local movements and migration of two Steppe Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus alboaxillaris, a little known subspecies, were studied opportunistically from February to March 2016, in Maputo Bay, Mozambique. Both birds were found to be part of a local sub-population of ca. 30 Whimbrel which hold individual feeding territories on sandy shoreline. One alboaxillaris was estimated to depart Maputo on 28 February and the other was possible to track with a PTT satellite tag, departing on 25 March 2016; this is one month earlier than other Whimbrel N. p. phaeopus and consistent with the more southern breeding phenology of alboaxillaris in lower latitudes in the steppes of Asia. The tagged bird made a 4,659-km journey in six days to Aden, Yemen and its migration route was consistent with the direction of travel for the known breeding areas of alboaxillaris. The tag fell off the bird in Yemen so the breeding destination of Steppe Whimbrel found in Maputo is still to be elucidated. The track data are the first firm evidence of a long-suspected African transcontinental migration route for southeastern African-Palearctic coastal waders. No other alboaxillaris were found in a larger population of 650 Whimbrel photo-identified in Maputo Bay.