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.
Резюме. Два степных средних кроншнепа Numenius phaeopus alboaxillaris были обнаружены в заливе Мапуту в Мозамбике 10–12 февраля 2016, что стало первой регистрацией в Африке с 1965 года. Их пол был предположительно определён как самец и самка; самка оставалась в том же районе до 28 февраля, а самец до 24 марта. Этот подвид известен плохо и в 1994 году был ошибочно объявлен исчезнувшим, но недавно обнаружен на гнездовании в крайне малом числе в России. Его история запутана, а систематика неясна. Наблюдатели призываются к поиску этой птицы в Африке в летние месяцы Южного полушария.
Two Steppe Whimbrels Numenius phaeopus alboaxillaris were found at Maputo Bay, Mozambique, on 10–12 February 2016, the first record in Africa since 1965. They were tentatively sexed as male and female; the female was resident in the area until 28 February and the male until 24 March. The taxon is little known and was erroneously declared extinct in 1994, but was recently found breeding in very small numbers in Russia. Its history is obscure and taxonomy unclear. Observers are encouraged to search for this bird in Africa during the austral summer.
Examination of 11 specimens of Whimbrels Numenius phaeopus (Linnaeus, 1758) in the Maputo Museu de Historia Natural, Maputo, Mozambique on 19th May 2016 revealed a single specimen showing the characters of the distinctive taxon ‘Steppe’ Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus alboaxillaris (Lowe 1921). A description of the specimen is given and illustrative photographs presented. The exact collecting locality is not known, but suspected to be Maputo Bay. This is the fifth record for Mozambique and the tenth record in Africa. A observação detalhada de 11 espécimens de Maçarico-galego Numenius phaeopus (Linnaeus, 1758), no Museu de História Natural de Maputo, a 19 de Maio de 2016, revelou a presença neste museu de um espécimen portador das características distintivas do taxon "Maçarico das Estepes" (Numenius phaeopus alboaxiliaris) (Lowe 1921). Neste artigo é apresentada a descrição do espécimen acompanhada de fotografias ilustrativas do mesmo. O local exacto de colecta da ave não é conhecido, mas presume-se ter sido capturado na Baía da cidade de Maputo. Este é o quinto registo do taxon para Moçambique e o décimo em Africa.
First sighting of Steppe Whimbrel Numenius phaepous alboaxillaris in Mozambique for over 100 years, in Maputo Bay, in February 2016.
Two study skins of the rare Steppe Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus alboaxillaris collected in Durban Bay in 1961 are housed in the bird collection of the Durban Natural Science Museum. Details of these two specimens, including plumage features, biometrics, moult, ageing criteria and phenology, are reported, illustrated and discussed in the light of the initial description by Clancey (1964a, b) and the recent ‘rediscovery’ of this taxon in southern Africa.