American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica

A rare visitor to the UK from North America, though one of the most frequently recorded transatlantic vagrants. Despite many making it to the east coast, the bird shown in the poor photos below was the first one to be seen by more than a few observers in Norfolk, although others have appeared since.

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American Golden Plover (with Golden Plovers), Breydon Water (Norfolk, UK), 12th October 2003

 

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American Golden Plover (with Lapwings and Golden Plover), Breydon Water (Norfolk, UK), 26th October 2015

Separation of American and Pacific Golden Plovers is fraught with difficulty and it has proved particularly difficult to obtain a consensus on the following bird, although I am personally satisfied that it is American. Part of the problem appears to be the variable appearance of the length of the wings. In some views and photos observers have felt that the primaries did not reach the tail, or fell more or less equal to the tail, which would suggest Pacific Golden Plover. The extensive projection of the primaries beyond the tertials was explained by the tertials being in moult and not fully grown. However the second outermost primary is not fully grown which in some views creates the effect of a wing-point at the end of the next one in - in some image or distant views it's easy to think that the wings end there and the dark extension behind that is the (longer) tail; in reality it's the outer primary and the (shorter) tail is hidden. Some photos show feet projecting slightly beyond the tail in flight, often considered a feature of Pacific, however this can also be shown by American Golden Plover (and some photos show no toe projection). There is no sign of yellowy tones on the head or breast which is very pro-American though the extent of gold on the upperparts is rather unusual and much more expected on Pacific.

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American Golden Plover, Breydon Water (Norfolk, UK), 10th April 2009