Mention Chile to any self-respecting birder and it will immediately conjure up images of that most wonderful and mythical species Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. Although relatively well distributed along the length of the Andes they are a ‘near threatened’ species, which lives and breeds in inaccessible Andean bogs above 6000ft – the wintering location of the southern breeding population is still an ornithological mystery. Although it is a ‘must see’ species for any visiting birder, our 2016 itinerary prevented us visiting the most well-known and accessible site at El Yeso ( still by no means ‘a walk in the park’ expedition, believe me!) so it was not a bird ‘on our radar’. However, on one of our visits to the altiplano, I saw a piece of habitat which looked potentially suitable for this species and we stopped to have a look. It wasn’t long before we’d seen a bird fly up from the bog and land, close by, on the rocky hillside. On obtaining reasonable views the identification was confirmed – Diademed Sandpiper Plover!! Although relatively confiding, this species is potentially vulnerable to disturbance – we left the site immediately and the location therefore will remain ‘undisclosed’.
The mythical, the sensational – Diademed Sandpiper-Plover